By Amy Bayer
Oneida County has more than 1,000 lakes and miles of wooded trails to explore. With towering pine trees and pristine scenery, this natural destination is popular for biking, hiking, cross country skiing and fishing and is home to thousands of acres of the Northern Highland/American Legion (NHAL) State Forest.
If you prefer bird-watching or viewing wildlife, there are plenty of opportunities for you as well. When you’re ready for your next Northwoods adventure, head to Oneida County and check out these seven natural scenic wonders.
Some of the most scenic destinations along the trail occur within the southern section which includes the Cranberry Boardwalk, named after the surrounding wetland that is home to wild cranberries, as well as the Black Spruce Boardwalk that crosses the Black Spruce Swamp.
This section of the trail also passes through property owned by Tara Lila, a private corporation that maintains three areas designated for long-term conservancy. With several shorter loops and routes within the protected land, there are plenty of opportunities for exploring miles of scenic beauty.
For those looking to get away from civilization for a few days, look no further than the Willow Flowage Scenic Waters Area. This property encompasses more than 30,000 acres of land and water with limited development and provides an incredible natural experience in northern Wisconsin.
With 73 miles of mostly undeveloped shoreline and more than 100 islands, this is a paddler’s paradise. In addition, there are more than 30 rustic campsites that are on a first-come, first-served basis with no registration, reservations or fees. This protected area has incredible opportunities for hunting, fishing, paddling, camping, hiking and wildlife viewing.
The trail in the Holmboe Nature Preserve is less than a mile long and yet is considered one of the most beautiful places in the area for a nature hike. Located on the south side of Rhinelander, the nature preserve offers excellent birdwatching and follows the route of the Pelican River.
In the winter, the trail is great for snowshoeing and in the autumn the preserve is recognized as a fantastic site for fall colors.
4. Raven Nature Trail & Raven Trail
Near the Clear Lake Campground within the NHAL State Forest are the Raven Trail and Nature Trail.
The 1.5-mile Raven Nature Trail is hilly and wooded as it passes Hemlock Lake named for the towering old white pines growing in the area. This loop is limited to foot traffic and pets are not allowed. However, leashed dogs and bikes are allowed on the Raven Trail, which has several loops that range in difficulty and length from 2.5 to 5 miles long.
There are steep hills and views of both Inkpot and Clear Lakes. In the winter both of these routes are groomed for cross-country skiing.
This 1,300-acre natural area is located in the northwest section of the county in a remote destination located 12 miles west of Minocqua. Named after the river that bisects the property, the natural area is largely known for its towering stands of red and white pines. The pines are more than 100 years old and range in diameter from 1 to 2.5 feet.
Minocqua Winter Park maintains a cross country ski trail through the protected area during the snowy season, and the routes are available to navigate the state natural area during warmer weather.
Abundant wildlife have chosen this remote natural area as their home, so keep your eyes open as you explore the area because you never know what animals you’ll cross paths with!
Just north of Newbold, the McNaughton Lake Trail loops around three separate lakes in the NHAL State Forest including the trail’s namesake as well as Hawk and Helen Lakes. The trail follows old logging roads and offers a pleasant, easy route with gentle slopes.
In the summer the trail is open to both hiking and biking, and leashed dogs are allowed, while in the winter, the trail is for cross-country skiers and has a loop groomed specifically for skate skis.
Managed by the Oneida County Forestry Department, the 80-acre Almon Park is one of the most popular recreation areas in the county. Located just south of Rhinelander on Buck Lake, the park offers a swimming beach, picnic areas, shelters and disc golf course.
However, because we want to focus on scenic beauty and natural wonders, the park has two nature trails including the Wetland Trail and Upland Trail. The Wetland Trail includes boardwalks that total more than 1,000 feet in length. Both trails are open to hiking and snowshoeing and traverse through a variety of natural habitats.