Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Washburn County towns offer great hikes

Trego Nature Trail.
Several great hiking trails crisscross Wisconsin’s Washburn County, with many of them centered on five major communities. Adding to the county’s charm is that no community has a population of more than 3000, and only one town even comes close to that.

The village of Birchwood sits tucked in the county’s southeast corner on Wis. Hwy. 48. The self-proclaimed Bluegill Capital of Wisconsin, it’s a former 1800s logging camp that became a town in its own right. The Tuscobia State Trail runs through it.

Washburn’s county seat, Shell Lake, is in the opposite corner along U.S. Hwy. 63. The town is centered on its namesake, popular Shell Lake, so named because shells of freshwater bivalves were common on its lakeshore. Several hiking trails can be found in or near town, including the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Just north of Shell Lake where U.S. Hwys. 63 and 53 join and split, is Spooner, the county’s largest city. Nicknamed “Crossroads of the North,” at one time it was a hub of the Omaha Railroad Line. A former rail line is now a hiking/bicycling path; the Wild Rivers Trail runs south to Sarona and Rice Lake and north to Trego and Superior.

Unincorporated Trego can be found at the county’s center on the Namekagon River in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Hwy. 63 goes east here to Hayward while Hwy. 53 goes north to Superior. The former heads to the scenic riverway’s visitor center and the picturesque Trego Nature Trail.

The village of Minong is in the northcentral portion of the county along Hwy. 53 at the edge of Wisconsin’s northern highlands. The Wild Rivers Trail runs through town while the Totagatic Ski Trail loops are nearby.

Learn more about these and nearby trails in Day Hiking Trails of Washburn County.