Sunday, August 7, 2016

Maps of Washburn County’s top hiking trails

Located in Wisconsin’s northwest corner, Washburn County is an outdoor recreational paradise. During summers, bicyclists and off-road vehicle enthusiasts ply a number of wooded trails while fishermen and canoeists try their hand at their sport on freshwater lakes and a nationally protected riverway. Come autumn, the roads turn busy with drivers out to enjoy the colorful blaze of autumn leaves. Throughout winter, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilists sail across white paths while ice fishing shacks pop up on frozen lakes. And, of course, day and backcountry hikers alike enjoy the county’s hundreds of miles of trails, some routes well-groomed and others primitive, but all rambling through verdant scenery.

Some great trails and maps for exploring them include:

Bear Trail
Carnivorous plants and glacial lakes await hikers at the Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary east of Shell Lake. Perhaps the best way to see the sanctuary’s wide variety of ecosystems is the Bear Trail, a 2.7-mile loop to which this recommended hike adds a half-mile. Owned by the National Audubon Society, the nonprofit Friends of Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary operates the facility, where they offer several quality educational programs.

Beaver Brook East Trail
Day hikers can enjoy a pleasant walk along a classic trout stream on Beaver Brook Wildlife Area’s East Trail. Along the way, you may spot the impressive osprey or bald eagle. The wildlife area nicely preserves 1,964 acres of woods and wetlands between Shell Lake and Spooner. A number of loops run off the main trail so hikers can adjust the trail’s length to meet their time restrictions and energy levels. Dogs also are allowed on the trail.

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Grassy Lake segment
South of Shell Lake, a fairly flat segment of the expansive Ice Age National Scenic Trail runs at the edge of where the glacier last seen in these parts towered some 11,000 years ago. The hike to Grassy Lake and back makes for just under 4 miles round trip.

Totagatic Ski Trail, Loop A
Multiple ski loop trails in winter serve as great day hiking paths in summer for those in the Minong area. Of the four Totagatic Ski Trail loops, try Loop A. At two miles round trip, it’s the shortest as well as the closest to the parking lot so is easy to locate.

Trego Lake Trail
A pretty hike through a Northwoods forest awaits hikers on the Trego Lake Trail. The 1.9-mile trail loops through the woods next to Trego Lake. Both the lake and the trail are part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Also known as the Trego Lake Ski Touring Trail, the path described here is a segment of its various routes. Up to 3.5 miles of trails are groomed for cross country skiing in winter.

Trego Nature Trail
A pleasant walk through the woods along a wild river await hikers on the Trego Nature Trail in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The trail is best done during summer when the shaded walk keeps hikers cool. Early autumn is a good time for those who enjoy fall colors.

Tuscobia State Trail, Birchwood segment
Wisconsin has nicely converted a number of abandoned railroad grades to hiking and multi-use trails. Among the more popular is the 74-mile Tuscobia State Trail running from Rice Lake to Park Falls. In the southeast corner of Washburn County, the trail passes through the village of Birchwood, the self-proclaimed Bluegill Capital of Wisconsin. A pleasant segment of the trail to day hike goes northeast from downtown Birchwood for a 4-mile round trip to County Road F and back.

Wild Rivers State Trail, Spooner segment
Day hikers can learn about railroading on an old rail line turned hiking trail in Spooner.The Wild Rivers State Trail runs for 104 miles across three counties on a former Omaha and Soo Line Railroads rail line. The trail connects Rice Lake in the south with Superior to the northwest. In Spooner, the trail marks the eastern edge of downtown. A 1.9-mile round trip segment of the trail makes for a pleasant urban hike.

Wild Rivers State Trail, Trego segment
A pleasant stroll through the woods with a bridge crossing of the scenicNamekagon River awaits day hikers on a segment of the Wild Rivers State Trail in Trego. This segment is a little under 2.2-miles round trip.

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