Monday, December 29, 2014

Trail heads through rare swath of Wisconsin boreal forest

Outdoor classroom off of Millennium Trail. Photo courtesy City of Superior.

Conifers, whitetail deer, songbirds await day hikers

Day hikers can enjoy a leisurely stroll through one of Wisconsin’s few remaining patches of boreal forests on the Millennium Trail in Superior.

The 1.6-mile trail sits in the Superior Municipal Forest, the third largest forest within a city in the United States. The Millennium runs from Billings Drive to Elmira Avenue on the city’s southwest side.

Flat, easy trail
A 10-foot-wide paved path, the trail sees minimal elevation change, staying about 630-660 feet above sea level. Because of this, it’s a good trail for those new to day hiking or those who want to get into shape for a longer hike. Joggers, bicyclists and inline skaters frequently can be seen on the route.

To reach the trailhead, at the 28th Street and Wyoming Avenue intersection turn south to the municipal parking lot. The trail goes both east and west; skip the eastern side, which leads to multiple railroad tracks in Superior's industrial section.

Heading west from the lot, the trail runs through a wooded section of the municipal forest. Most of the trees here will be aspen, balsam, black spruce, cedar, white and red pine, and white birch. This is typical of a boreal forest, a northern woodlands dominated by coniferous trees.

Among the fauna are whitetail deer, which you likely will see along the way. During spring and summer, songbirds provide background music to your footfalls.

Learning opportunities
At about a quarter mile from the trailhead, the Millennium reaches a meadow and swerves south with woods on the east side and the open area on the west. In about 600 feet, the trail heads into the thicker wooded section of the forest, which often forms a canopy over the pavement.

The trail curves west about a little more than a mile from the trailhead then meanders the rest of its course through the boreal forest.

If you’re a teacher or youth group leader interested in providing nature lessons, the Millennium marks a great trail to day hike. In addition to being an easy hike for kids, an outdoor classroom is located just off the trail, less than a mile from the trailhead. Six interpretive signs tell about the forest’s history and ecology.

Upon reaching Billings Drive, return to the parking lot. The route runs 2.8-miles round trip from the lot to Billings and back.


Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.