Chequamegon-Nicolet Forest Tour
The small Northwood's town of Cable is blessed; sandwiched between the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, it never has a shortage of natural beauty. On the bike you've got an excellent chance to see lots of wildlife: song birds, soaring raptors, ravens, black bear, white-tailed deer, otters, beaver and many other native animals. You may even hear the haunting call of a loon across a quiet lake. Be sure to tuck binoculars in your bike bag. In town, there's a terrific museum to help you identify or learn more about what you've seen. Be sure to visit the Cable Natural History Museum after your ride. At 1.5 million acres, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is larger than the State of Rhode Island. Stately white pines, white paper birch, tall oak trees and lots of maples line its roads. Lush green in summer, the foliage becomes a riot of amber and burgundy colors in the fall. The Chequamegon-Nicolet is laced with more than 1,500 lakes. Most are hidden from view, but you can visit Lake Owen by stopping at Two Lakes Campground, a mile north of the route. Riding north of Cable on Perry Lake Road, the terrain is typical of much of the ride. The land rolls like the waves of an ocean. On Lake Owen Drive, that character is magnified. Downhill speed is the answer for keeping the uphill effort to a minimum. This stretch is part of the popular Grand View Firehouse Fifty bicycle race held annually on the first weekend in August. Heading south, plan a stop at the Namekagon Dam, the outlet for the lake and the beginning of the river of the same name. The little wayside park at the dam is a wonderful place to spot wildlife or just to dangle your toes in the cool, clean water. The Namekagon River is the start of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway; this waterway will always be a wild river. Further south at the bottom of a hill on Dam Road, look for a small sign on the west side of the road. The sign points out a tall pine with an osprey nest near the top. Osprey nests are huge, at times six feet across. With binoculars you may spot a nesting pair or even fuzzy fledglings. Along with the forest's other giant bird, the bald eagle, the osprey loves to swoop down and catch fish in the lake and river. On the opposite side of the road, you can train your binocs through the trees to see the high nests of a great blue heron rookery. On the way back to Cable, you can enjoy another encounter with the Namekagon. Look for a canoe landing on the north side of Telemark Road. A short walk in leads to several bubbling springs that flow into the river.
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Events: Near Chequamegon-Nicolet Forest Tour