Sunday, May 3, 2015

Wisconsin hike passes four peaceful lakes

Anderson Grade topo map

Anderson Grade
follows logging
era railroad bed


Day hikers can enjoy four lakes on an old railroad grade in Wisconsin’s Chequamegon National Forest.

The 5.8-miles round trip Anderson Grade is a fairly level trail. It sits in the Rainbow Lake Wilderness, a federal unit within the Chequamegon National Forest. The wilderness area is home to a pack of timber wolves, but the reclusive creatures are rarely seen.

To reach the trailhead, from Drummond, travel north on Forest Road 35. In 5.5 miles, turn left/west into the parking area. The trail heads west from the lot.

The Anderson Grade, a logging-era rail bed, also is referred to as Forest Service Trail 502 on some maps. There are no rails or ties today, but the area cut for the train remains and is maintained as a walking path.

North Country Trail intersection
You won’t have to walk far to see the first lake. Within a hundred yards of the lot, Clay Lake appears on the trail’s south side. At 28 acres in size, the lake reaches a maximum depth of 45 feet. Panfish are common in the lake, but largemouth bass also can found in it.

A mere 0.26 miles from the trailhead, Flakefjord Lake is on the trail’s north side. Though containing the same fish as Clay Lake, Flakefjord is much smaller at 10 acres with a maximum depth of 17 feet.
The terrain begins to roll a little from there, but it’s nothing significant that children can’t handle.

About 1.25 miles from Flakefjord Lake, an unmarked spur heads to Bufo Lake’s north shore. The spur dead ends on a pine-covered peninsula jutting into the lake and is well worth the few extra steps. At 20 acres in size, from the peninsula the lake stretches into the distance.

At 1.7 miles from the trailhead, the North Country National Scenic Trail intersects from the south. It briefly joins the Anderson Grade then in 100 yards splits right/north. Continue west on the Anderson Grade, however.

Largest of four lakes
The trail next passes around a long wetlands. Then, at 2.8 miles from the trailhead, take the spur trail that heads east for Anderson Lake.

In another 0.1 miles, you’ll reach Anderson Lake’s the northwest shore. A footpath heads to the lake’s north side, which marks a good spot for a picnic. The lake covers 31 acres with a maximum depth of 46 feet. Largemouth bass are common in it.

After taking on the lake views, retrace your steps back to the parking lot.

You can extend the hike and see a fifth lake by adding 2.4-miles round trip to the walk. Between Bufo and Anderson lakes, take the North Country Trail intersection north to Rainbow Lake. The lake covers 14 acres with a maximum depth of 21 feet. You’ll likely hear loons there.

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