Saturday, March 28, 2015

Peaceful northern Wisconsin trail circles evergreen-lined lake

Interfalls Lake, Pattison State Park.
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR.

Beaver Slide Nature Trail runs 2 miles

A pleasant walk alongside a northern lake and a rapids-filled river awaits day hikers on the Beaver Slide Nature Trail in Wisconsin.

The 2-mile trail in Pattison State Park often is overshadowed by its sister trails that lead to waterfalls, including impressive Big Manitou Falls, Wisconsin’s highest and the fourth tallest east of the Rockies. But this is a peaceful walk worth making the time for.

To reach the park, take Wis. Hwy. 35 south about 13 miles from Superior, Wis. The entrance and parking lot is on the left. For the trailhead, from Pattison's main parking lot head toward the 300-foot sand beach and follow it south along Interfalls Lake.

Perfect for kids
This is an easy route for families with children. Almost all of the trail consists of packed gravel and dirt and averages about 3 to 5 feet wide. The exception is a section running along a marsh, in which boardwalks make up the surface. Seasonal creeks flow into the river, so there also are several small wooden bridges along the way. But while there are plenty of dips and rises, the trail avoids any hills.

The best views of Interfalls Lake are on the segment of the trail heading south from the beach. About 23 acres in size with a maximum depth of 13 feet, Interfalls Lake is home to largemouth bass, northern pike, panfish and trout.

Next, the trail intersects the Logging Camp Trail. Continue straight/right as the Beaver Slide begins to parallel the Black River.

The river in this stretch is about 30 feet wide and offers a number of rapids that provide a backing track of rushing water. Cedar, spruce and a variety of pines hug the river’s rocky banks.

West side of river, lake
As the trail reaches its southern end, you’ll take a bridge over the Black River. Once across, go right/west; the Little Falls Hiking Trail heads the other direction

The trail next rambles roughly northwest along the other side of Black River through a boreal northern forest, which primarily consists of evergreens. Large patches of ferns also can be spotted along the trail.

The trail then comes back to shoreline of Interfalls Lake. Upon reaching the lake’s northwest corner, you’ll arrive at a small dam that backs up Black River into Interfalls Lake. Continue curving around lake to the beach and your parking lot.

Before driving off, you might consider stopping at the Gitche Gumee Nature Center. It features a few exhibits about the park’s wildlife, geology and cultural history.

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