Black River Country Snowmobile Tour

Forests - and plenty of them; that describes Jackson County and the two corners of Clark and Monroe Counties included on this tour. You get that perfect mix of woods, snow and snowmobiles, plus a peppering of friendly small towns that are perfect for pit stops. On the east side of the Black River, public forests dominate the landscape; the Black River State Forest totals 67,000 acres while the Jackson County Forest adds another 118,000 acres. Just to the north, Clark County Forest lands total 133,000 acres. On the west side of the Black River, the land is covered with as much forest as farmland. Riding options are nearly endless in the tri-county area with 260 miles of trail in Jackson County, 295 miles in Clark County, and 269 miles in Monroe County. Traveling along Interstate-94, you'll reach the Black River State Forest, seeing the forest's characteristic mounds; hills and ridges of oaks and pines rising 200 feet above the lowland. Riding your snowmobile north from Millston on Corridor Trail #25 you get to scale Wildcat Mound. The view from the top of this sandstone monolith is incredible. Below, an ocean of trees stretches from mound to mound while the shadow of the uplands beyond the Black River marks the horizon. Riding north through the forest, you junction with Corridor Trail #26 - a possible 25-mile shortcut to Melrose, or a quick 10-mile side trip to Black River Falls. If you opt for the latter, visit the Pioneer Brewing Company. Located in a 19th Century brewery building, Pioneer offers tours that end with frothy samples. A few miles east of town, Majestic Pines Bingo & Casino lets you test your luck on 600 slot machines, 12 blackjack tables and a 500-seat bingo hall. If you stay on the outer loop of this tour, Hatfield is your first sign of civilization since leaving the trailhead. The tiny town is on the south shore of Lake Arbutus, a flowage on the Black River. Here, you'll cross to the west side of the river and head into Clark County. Along the way you'll pass the Bruce Mound Winter Sports Area located high among the sandstone crags. Bruce Mounds is a popular spot for downhill skiing, snowboarding and no-skills-needed tubing.A short distance later you'll turn west on Trail #95 and head back into Jackson County. As you make the turn, you're just ten short miles from Neillsville, home of The Highground Veterans Memorial Park. This outdoor memorial is set high on a ridge overlooking miles of beautiful Black River Country. A gift shop/information center is open year round at various hours. In town you can also visit WCCN's Wisconsin Pavilion and Pavilion Cheese and Gifts. The pavilion was once the Wisconsin exhibit at the 1964 World's Fair. Back on the tour, Trails #95, #94 and #1 treat you to 35 miles of small town hospitality in Merrillan, Alma Center, Hixton, Northfield and Taylor. Further on it will be a long haul on Trail #1 to the crossroads village of North Bend, then a short hop on Corridor Trail #26 to Melrose. Here, you connect with Trail #71 to return to the east side of the Black River and Monroe County. Along the way you'll pass two tiny communities, Four Corners and Cataract, before picking up Corridor Trail #27 to cross back into Jackson County and return to Millston.You'll have traversed two markedly different areas on this tour. The steep wooded ridges and deep farm valleys west of the Black River are very different from the low, mound-punctuated forest to the east. One theory claims that the land west of the Black River is part of an ancient meteor crater outlined by the Black, Eau Claire, Chippewa and Mississippi rivers. On the state map it looks like a giant 60-mile diameter circle.