Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Many great trails run through Sawyer County

Namekagon River in Sawyer County, Wis.
Imagine a place where you can walk quiet paths lined with red-leaved maple and green-needled spruce, where grouse drum and dance in the wide open each spring, where osprey and bald eagles dip out of the sky upon eyeing a river fish, of trails that once were historic portage routes used by fur traders, of routes alongside a rapids-filled river now conquered by modern kayakers. The place is real: It’s called Sawyer County, Wisconsin.

A recreation mecca, Sawyer County sits in the heart of the Wisconsin Northwoods. Every winter, tens of thousands of cross-country skiers descend upon its county seat, Hayward, for the annual Birkebeiner race, North America’s most popular cross country ski marathon. During summer, off-road mountain bike riders flock to Sawyer County for the annual Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, the nation’s largest mass start mountain bike race. Depending upon the season, on any given day campers, fishing boats, and snowmobiles criss-cross the landscape.

All of these cross country, mountain bike and snowmobile trails, campgrounds and clear blue lakes also make for great day hiking opportunities.

Credit the last ice age for ensuring Sawyer County can host these many recreational activities. Glaciers scraped away most of the topsoil and left sandy soil in its wake, largely from lakes formed by the melting ice sheet.

The poor soils and short growing season doesn’t make for great farmland, ensuring forests of sugar maple, basswood, and red maple, as well as aspen, birch, spruces and firs to stand. In addition, the dense glacial sediment allows numerous lakes exist.

Among the great trails that can be found in Sawyer County are:
g Bass Lake Trail
g Black Lake Trail
g Namekagon-Laccourt Oreilles Portage Trail
g Little Falls-Slough Gundy Scenic Area Trail
g Tuscobia Trail

Read more about day hiking Sawyer County, Wisconsin, in my Day Hiking Trails of Sawyer County guidebook.