Friday, May 15, 2015

Old rail line turned country trail offers pastoral getaway in Wisconsin

King Creek along Saunders State Trail. Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR.
A pleasant stroll through the country awaits hikers on a segment of the Saunders State Trail in northwest Wisconsin.

The Saunders State Trail runs more than 8 miles long but need not be hiked in its entirety to be enjoyed. A 4.2-miles round trip segment between the unincorporated towns of Borea and Boylston works well for day hiking.

To reach this segment’s trailhead, from Superior take Wis. Hwy. 35 south. Go west on County Road C. In Borea, turn right/north onto Irondale Road. After crossing the railroad tracks, you’ll come to the trail. Park off the side of the road, and go west on the trail, as if heading back to Superior.

A former Soo Line rail bed, the trail is flat and wide. The first section of the trail heads past farmland, but just enough trees line the route to offer a sense of walking down a wooded country lane.

In late summer, wild raspberries grow alongside the trail. A number of wildflowers also can be spotted from spring through summer.

At 2.1 miles, the trail reaches the gravel Mertes Road. This marks a good spot to turn back.

If you’ve got the energy, continue another 0.7 miles to Boylston, where the trail curves north and then another 1.4 miles to its terminus just beyond Boylston Junction. Between these two communities, the trail borders a county forest.

Alternately, rather than head east from the trailhead, you can walk up to 5.7 miles west to the trail’s terminus in Minnesota. Along the way, the trail crosses first the Pokegama River and then Clear Creek. The 3.3-mile segment from County Road W north of Dewey to the bridge at Clear Creek is particularly scenic and includes a bridge over the Pokegama.

Multiple uses for trail, including off-road vehicles, mountain bicyclists, and horses, are allowed.

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