Wisconsin’s northwoods hold a few advantages when it comes to cross-country skiing. First, winter has staying power here. The snows come early and often don’t know when to quit – of course, for winter warriors, that’s one of our more endearing qualities. Secondly, the vast majority of the state’s northwoods is protected land, including county, state and national forests, leaving hundreds of thousands of acres pristine and perfect for exploring.
We’ve uncovered a half dozen of the best stops for cross-country skiing in the northern third of the Badger State, so bundle up and start planning your adventure!
· Rhinelander – The Cassian County Two-Way Trail in Rhinelander is considered one of the finest cross-country skiing trails in the region. It’s an 18-mile round-trip, well-groomed and winding through an incredible forest and past the shores of three different lakes, just right for beginners and intermediates. Located in the southern part of Oneida County, many of Rhinelander’s trails are just minutes from the downtown area, so when you’re ready to thaw out, ski in for a delicious meal and some unique northwoods shopping.
· Eagle River/Three Lakes – Just north in Vilas County, between Eagle River and Three Lakes is the Three Eagle Trail. Five miles of the trail is groomed for classic and skate skiing and is mostly flat with a few gentle slopes. However, what it lacks in an adrenaline rush, it more than makes up for in scenic beauty. Skiers here will wind through thick woodlands and wetlands, over a bridge and two picture perfect boardwalks. You can also connect with the Tara Lila trails for another three miles of cross-country adventures with rustic boardwalks through swamps and bogs.
· Sayner-Star Lake – Seventeen miles northwest of Eagle River, near Sayner-Star Lake, are the Razorback Ridges Trails. With a total of 12 miles of trails and loops of all lengths, this is a spot that will please skiers of all abilities. There are plenty of good beginner tracks here, but more advanced skiers will enjoy the thrills from the aptly named “Hair Raiser,” “Rollercoaster,” and “Deadman’s Curve” loops.
· Boulder Junction – If you’re looking to do a little “off-road” skiing, check out the Lumberjack Trails near Boulder Junction, just a quick 20 minute drive from the Sayner-Star Lake area. The trail is ungroomed and untracked, but runs along the edge of the Manitowish River, Fishtrap flowage and White Sand Lake. Cast your eyes to the sky and you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the bald eagles often seen in the area.
· Conover – About 25 miles east of Boulder Junction is Conover, home to one of the newest spots in the area, a combination of a cross-country ski trail created last winter, linked to a well-established hiking and biking route, resulting in the Pioneer Creek Cross Country Ski Trail. You’ll find six loops here with a total of seven miles of trails to explore. Enjoy some steeper hill climbs and an adventure through young jack pine, aspen, oak and large white pine forests.
· Land O’ Lakes – A quick 10 minute drive north of Conover and you’ll arrive at the Wisconsin/Michigan border, in the town of Land O’ Lakes. The forests here are a silent wonderland and the loudest sound you’ll hear on the trails is your boots clipping into your bindings. For a family ski, check out the Land O’ Lakes Cross-Country ski trails, located in the pristine Ottawa National Forest. Along these trails, you’re likely to encounter some peaceful winter wildlife, including deer, porcupine, rabbits and more. Another secluded and gorgeous trail to try is the Forest Lake Trail: an eight-mile round-trip, best for intermediate skiers and sure to impress when it comes to scenery.
Plan a trip to experience these fun winter stops for yourself! For more information about these and other unique Wisconsin destinations, log on to witravelbestbets.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.