Thursday, June 4, 2015

Five best hikes for exploring Ashland WI

Copper Falls State Park/ Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR.
Located along Lake Superior in northcentral Wisconsin, Ashland County is an outdoor recreational paradise. During summers, bicyclists and off-road vehicle enthusiasts explore a number of wooded trails while fishermen cast lines on freshwater lakes and campers set up tents across a sprawling national forest. Come autumn, the roads turn busy with drivers enjoying the colorful blaze of autumn leaves lining the countryside. Throughout winter, snowshoers, cross country skiers and snowmobilers sail across white paths while ice fishing shacks pop up on frozen lakes. And, of course, day and backcountry hikers alike during three seasons enjoy the county’s hundreds of miles of trails, some routes well-groomed and others primitive, but all rambling through fabulous scenery.

Four major attractions await day hikers and backpackers in the loosely L-shaped Ashland County. The massive Chequamegon National Forest covers about a third of the county, filling up the southwest corner. A number of campsites can be found in the forest, which boasts the granite rock formation St. Peter’s Dome and Wisconsin’s second highest waterfalls, Morgan Falls. Just slightly above above the county’s center sits Copper Falls State Park, which offers dramatic waterfalls and cascades over ancient lava flows. The 4600-mile North Country National Scenic Trail winds its way through the county, primarily in the national forest with a spur running through the state park. Lastly, the county’s northern portion includes the Lake Superior shoreline and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, the latter of which consists of 21 protected islands that only can be reached by boat in the world’s largest freshwater lake.

Among the best trails to see these attractions and experience Ashland County are:
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
Morgan Falls St. Peter’s Dome Trail
Black Lake Trail
Copper Falls State Park
Doughboys’ Nature Trail
North Country National Scenic Trail
Copper Falls State Park segments
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Michigan Island Trail
Stockton Island Trails

Read more about family friendly day hiking trails in my Headin' to the Cabin guidebooks.