Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Bayfield County boasts number of great attractions for day hiking

Chequamegon National Forest

National forest,
national parks unit
both within county

Visitors to Wisconsin’s Bayfield County can enjoy a number of major recreational areas, many of which contain great day hiking trails.

Several public lands can be found in the county. The Chequamegon National Forest’s western reach stretches across the county’s southern and center section. A small portion of the Apostle Island National Lakeshore sits on the Bayield Peninsula with access to the rest of the National Park unit’s scenic and often unspoiled islands primarily from Bayfield and La Pointe. Bay View State Park – in Ashland County on Madeline Island – offers an intimate encounter with Lake Superior; most visiting the state park do so by first passing through Bayfield. Brule River State Forest, also just across the county line, lets visitors explore a waterway that at one time flowed out of Lake Superior rather than into it.

Two major trails cut through the county. The North Country National Scenic Trail, which rambles 4600 miles across seven states from New York to North Dakota, runs in Bayfield County between the southeast corner in the Chequamegon National Forest and south of Iron River on its way through the Brule River State Forest. The Tri-County Corridor Trail heads between Ashland and Superior in neighboring Douglas County, paralelling U.S. Hwy. 2 in Bayfield County.

How to get there
From western Wisconsin and southern Minnesota, U.S. Hwy. 63 offers the best access to Bayfield County. The highway runs from Interstate 94 north, entering the county near Cable on its way to that village and Drummond before terminating west of Ashland.

From northern Minnesota, U.S. Hwy. 2 enters Wisconsin in Superior then enters Bayfield County at Iron River. Wis. Hwy. 13 also runs from south of Superior to and then along the Bayfield Peninsula shoreline.

From northeastern Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula, U.S. Hwy 2 runs through Ashland and east-west across Bayfield County to Iron River.

Southeastern Wisconsin and Illinois residents can reach Bayfield County via Hwy. 13, which heads north from U.S. Hwy. 10 in Marshfield through Park Falls into Ashland. In Bayfield County, Hwy. 13 loops off Hwy. 2 around the Bayfield Peninsula, running through Washburn, Bayfield, Red Cliff, Cornucopia, Herbster and Port Wing before heading into Douglas County and ending just south of Superior.

When to visit
Outdoors activities abound year around in Bayfield County. The best months to day hike Bayfield County are May through September. Depending on the year, April and October also can be pleasant.

As with the rest of Wisconsin, summers can be humid, especially July and August, though this typically is only the case for Bayfield County’s inland areas. Rain also can occur during the afternoon even when the morning is sunny, so always check the weather forecast before heading out.

November through March usually is too cold for day hiking. Once snow falls, trails typically are used for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or snowshoeing. Early spring often means muddy trails thanks to snowmelt and rainfall.

Read more about these and nearby trails in Day Hiking Trails of Bayfield County.