It’s no secret the Wisconsin’s landscapes are brimming with natural beauty, packed with parks that are a continuous source of inspiration and entertainment. If you’re looking to flex your muscles and immerse yourself in some of the most beautiful natural areas of the nation, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is your place to start.
The Chequamegon and Nicolet National Forests preserve 1.5 million acres of the state of Wisconsin, and include both an abundance of wildlife and a rich history of glacial geology. Not sure where to begin? To see some of the most stunning features of this scenic region, we recommend checking out these top trails!
South Nicolet State Trail
The Nicolet State Trail spans the entire eastern segment of the national forest at a whopping 89 miles. There are two great spots to visit along the southern-most portion of the trail: Spur of the Moment Ranch and the Cathedral Pines State Natural Area. The ranch is a unique recreational resort, offering log cabin lodging and on-site activities like horseback riding. It has direct access to, and marks the beginning of, the Nicolet State trail.
Head north to the next local treasure, where you’ll find one of the only remaining virgin forest segments. The Cathedral Pines State Natural Area’s 40 acres of white pine and hemlock will overwhelm you in the best way.
Chute Pond Overlook Trail
Not far from the Nicolet State Trail, this “lollipop” route is the ideal hike to fit in some breathtaking sights. Chute Pond Overlook Trail is less than 3 miles and moderately steep, and broadly overlooks Chute Pond, Bagley Rapids, and the Old Fire Tower, where visitors are welcome to climb up and enjoy amazing views. Enter at Chute Pond County Park and enjoy strolling through towering Maple and Birch on your way to a picturesque picnic spot.
Fanny Lake Trail
Make sure to bring your field journal for this one. A segment of the Jones Spring Area Trail, this hike circles gorgeous Fanny Lake, and treats hikers to seemingly boundless fields of wildflowers. The area is ideal for spotting local wildlife, and the variety of flora and fauna you’ll see on path won’t disappoint.
Ed’s Lake National Recreation Trail
Ed’s Lake Trail is ideal for the multifaceted adventurist. The path follows the early 1900’s railroad grades through a variety of forest types, making it a favorite of hikers, mountain-bikers, and cross-country skiers. Enjoy a beautiful view of the water on the western edge of the trail, and take a rewarding break at the Adirondack-style shelter overlooking the lake.
Black Lake Trail
This 4-mile hike circles the quaint Black Lake. Along with pleasant lake vistas, the Black Lake Trail is marked with 9 educational landmarks detailing the intensive logging and reforestation history of the local forest. Be sure to keep an eye out for white-tail deer and elk on your walk between signs, as they have been known to visit the lake’s strikingly blue waters.
North Country Trail
Wisconsin’s portion of the North Country National Scenic Trail spans 200 miles, with a charming 7- mile segment accessed from the Porcupine Lake Wilderness Area. The southern end of the trail provides an epic view of 18 Mile Spring Pond, and about halfway between Porcupine Lake and West Davis Lake, you’ll have the privilege of seeing large beaver dams in their natural setting. Immerse yourself in this unique, thriving biosphere and allow yourself to feel small.