To the delight of winter adrenaline seekers, the time has come to hit the trails and explore the birthplace of snowmobiling – Northeast Wisconsin. For decades, local snowmobile clubs have preserved a tradition of preparing hundreds of miles of premier trails through pristine Wisconsin forests, farmlands and lakes. Even if you don’t own your own sled, rentals are available and the trails are calling.
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Vilas County Trails
Smell the exhaust? Well you should, because Vilas County is a diehard snowmobiler’s haven. Home to 600 miles of legendary trails, it’s known as the snowmobiling capitol of the world. SnowGoer Magazine rates Eagle River in Vilas Co. the best overall snowmobile destination, due in part to its top ranking for best overall trail riding.
Dedication from 11 clubs that maintain these trails are why snowmobilers describe the experience as being “like riding on a highway.” For a place to stay, try the Sunrise Resort or one of the many winter lodge-themed cabins in the area, and remember to make time for a detour to view the majestic 130-foot tall white pines at Cathedral Point.
Nicolet State Trail
Running north from Gillett up to the U.P. border, the Nicolet State Trail is a well-known, 89-mile multi-purpose recreational trail with a compacted gravel base. It shoots through the heart of the Nicolet National Forest and graces snowmobilers with an unsullied scenery as well as a link to several restaurants, gas stations and hotels in the towns of Gillett, Townsend and Suring, among others. Additionally, it connects to multiple county trails.
Hodag Sno Trail
At 140 miles, the Hodag Sno Trail is a fraction of the 1,000+ miles of snowmobile trails in the Rhinelander area, but it offers the full experience. The mixture through rolling farmlands, lowlands and pine forests provide a scenic adventure with plenty of stops for food and lodging along the route. These trails are great by themselves, but their nature as a central hub connects them with other choice snowmobile destinations like Minocqua, Crandon, St. Germain and Tomahawk.
Three Lakes Area Trails
You know how the old song goes: “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go?” Those lyrics come to life in the Three Lakes area, where its 28 lakes and 186 groomed trail miles run through open farmland, heavily wooded areas and across frozen waterways. At the end of the ride, experience Three Lakes’ old-fashioned charm and hospitality with a stop at Black Forest Pub & Grille, Pike’s Pine Isle Lodge or Lumpy’s.
Blue Ox Trail
Tourist resources and guidance from the staff at Wild Rivers Interpretive Center in Florence make the Blue Ox Trail a comfortable destination for visitors. The Blue Ox Trail Riders boast that their 180-mile system, passing through rolling hills and along numerous rivers is among the best in the state.
If you’re not bringing your own equipment, rental options from Pembine Sport & Lawn are available, but if you are, Wild Rivers offers free overnight parking. Whatever your plans, Maxsell’s Restaurant & Suites or one of the many cabins in the Florence area are great options for those spending the night or weekend.
Ahnapee State Trail
The Ahnapee State Trail, a wide 48-mile link between Kewaunee and Sturgeon Bay, treks through farm fields, forested areas and along the scenic Kewaunee and Ahnapee rivers. Start in Kewaunee and continue north to explore the remaining 250 miles throughout Door County, where the restaurants, shops and hotels are limitless. As long as you’re passing through, do not forget the winding trails up and down the Niagra Escarpment in Potawatomi State Park.