With more than 25,000 miles of pristine snowmobile trails in Wisconsin, it’s no surprise the snowmobile is an important part of winter fun in the state. In fact, the first sled was invented in 1924 by Carl Eliason in Sayner. There’s even a Snowmobile Hall of Fame located in St. Germain.
We called on some local experts to give us some great spots for the ideal northern Wisconsin snowmobiling experience.
Eagle River Snowmobile Trails
The History: Eagle River, officially registered as “The Snowmobile Capital of the World” in 1964, has five snowmobile clubs that groom 600 miles of trails daily. These snowmobile trails weave through Vilas and Oneida counties, the Nicolet National Forest and around 2,400 lakes.
A Must See: The city’s annual Ice Castle creation is an icy architectural wonder that has changed in design every year since it was first built in 1927. It’s built by a team of volunteers headed by area firefighters who put in more than 700 man hours to cut nearly 3,000 ice blocks from a local lake and haul them into place. Trail #13 passes right by it adding more winter fun to your snowmobiling journey.
Three Lakes Snowmobile Trails
The History: Lit by antique-inspired lampposts and lined with little gift shops and restaurants, the Three Lakes downtown area has an old-fashioned charm to it.
A Must See: Winter fun is always close by.The Northern Lights Snowmobile Club holds overnight rides, on-trail weenie roasts, bonfires and weekly club rides. There’s also the Three Lakes Winery where the first cranberry wine was made, and the Northwoods Petroleum Museum with an extensive collection of classic gas pumps, neon signs on display from floor to ceiling.
St. Germain Snowmobile Trails
The History: You might say St. Germain is in the center of it all for snowmobilers. Head in any direction and there will be snowmobile trails to accommodate your wanderlust.
A Must See: Seeking more winter fun? Every year there’s a Radar Run where riders can race their sleds on a 1,000-foot track of ice and be timed by a radar gun. In the unlimited class, speeds can top 160 mph.
Minocqua Snowmobile Trails
The History: One of the favorite snowmobiling trails in the Minocqua area is the Bearskin State Trail that stretches 18 miles through the forests of Oneida County. Traffic is two-way with several rest spots along the way. This area also has more than 1,600 miles of snowmobile trails that traverse 1,300 glacial lakes and 233,000 acres of public forestland.
A Must See: The Thirsty Whale is a 100-year-old landmark on Lake Minocqua – you’ll want to sample their Wisconsin deep-fried cheese curds followed by a flame-broiled burger.
Hurley Snowmobile Trails
The History: Who can argue Hurley is the state’s snow capital with snowfall totals known to top 200 inches. People often snowmobile here right into the first week of April. Off-trail snowmobile riding is also available on 175,000 acres of public land. This is for the adventurous rider and a certain type of sled is necessary to take into the deep snow.
Of special note: A GPS is required – get a copy of the Hurley snowmobile trail map that outlines the acreage with GPS coordinates from the Chamber – and there is no cell phone service in the boondocking areas so you need to travel in a group.
A Must See: Along with snowmobiling, this town is known for its mining heritage. In fact, you can snowmobile right up to the site of the world’s deepest iron mine and explore the interpretive park there called The Plummer Mine.
Boulder Junction Snowmobile Trails
The History: Boulder Junction is ideally located in the Lake Superior snow belt, which means lots of snow for snowmobilers. Trail #8 in the area is especially scenic and serene. And when riders want to take a break from the trails, they should spend some time shopping in this town’s many artsy shops and galleries.
A Must See: Experience the beauty of the Northwoods on a fat tire biking adventure. If you're a first-timer or need to rent a bike, Coontail Adventures, located in the heart of Boulder Junction, has what you need.