Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Hike beside Class I trout stream in NW Wis.

The inland brook trout is Wisconsin's only native trout.
Illustration courtesy Wisconsin DNR.

Moose Ear Creek
runs through
county forest

Hikers on the Moose Ear Creek Trail in the Cameron-Chetek, Wis., area may want to bring bait and tackle. A walk alongside the stream is certain to conjure thoughts of those Ernest Hemingway trout-fishing days of old.

Located in the Moose Ear Creek/Sumner Area County Forest, the trail runs roughly two miles out and back. It’s lush with vegetation in summer, vibrant with colors in autumn, and gurgling with fast-flowing snowmelt in spring.

Flows out of Blue Hills
To reach the trailhead, from Cameron head east on U.S. Hwy. 8. Turn right in the Barron County forest’s eastern-most entrance just before reaching Moose Ear Creek. Park at the head of the forest trail immediately beyond the high wire lines.

From the lot, the trial heads southward. Don’t worry about the gate; it’s merely there to prevent vehicle traffic.

You’ll walk roughly southwest for 0.35 miles. At the forest road junction, go left/east. A good mix of Northern hardwoods line the trail.

At 0.125 miles, the trail comes to a spur leading to Moose Ear Creek. A Class I trout stream, Moose Ear Creek begins as a rock-bottomed brook in the Blue Hills to the north. The hills are all that remain of an ancient mountain range. Glaciers just 10,000 years ago ground the then low mountains to their current heights. Today, the creek flowing out of the Blue Hills is an excellent brook and brown trout stream.

Variety of birds
Bird watching is superb as well; keep an eye out for the golden-winged warbler, Louisiana waterthrush, red-shouldered hawk, and whip-poor-will.

Continuing south, the trail parallels the stream. After about 0.4 miles, the trail swerves away from the creek, which flows south into Moose Ear Lake, a 33.6-acre waterbody sporting a warm water fish population.

Upon coming to next trail junction, you’ve hiked about a mile. This marks a good spot to turn back.

Read more about day hiking Barron County in my Hittin’ the Trail: Day Barron County, Wisconsin guidebook.