Sunday, August 23, 2015

Hiking trails abound in Douglas County, Wis.

St. Croix River at Louise Park.
Wisconsin’s Douglas County boasts a number of outdoor attractions perfect for day hikers: two state parks – Amnicon Falls State Park and Pattison State Park – both with waterfalls; long stretches of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway; and the Brule River State Forest that spills into Lake Superior. All offer several scenic hikes. Many excellent routes, including those that meander along Lake Superior, also can be found in Superior and just across the state line in Duluth.

Four major hiking trails popular with backpackers ramble through Douglas County. Among the most famous of them is the North Country National Scenic Trail, which runs 4600 miles from New York state to North Dakota. The Gandy Dancer Trail terminates 98 miles to the south in St. Croix Falls, Wis., and heads through Minnesota for about a third of its route. Another old railbed turned hiking-bicycle path, the Wild Rivers State Trail, ends 104 miles to the southeast near Rice Lake, Wis. The Tri-County Corridor Trail links Superior to Ashland over the course of nearly 62 miles.

The best months to day hike Douglas County are May through September. Depending on the year, April and October also can be pleasant.

As with the rest of Wisconsin, summers are humid, especially July and August. Rain 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.

Some great Douglas County day hiking trails include:
Big Manitou Falls overlook trails
Amnicon Falls island trails
Schoen/Louise Parks Jeep Trails
Stoney Hill Nature Trail
Osaugie Trail
North Country National Scenic Trail
Gandy State Dancer Trail
Wild Rivers State Trail
Tri-County Corridor Trail

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