The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest covers more than 1.5 million acres of Wisconsin’s northwoods. Though technically 2 separate national forests, they have been administered together since 1998. Along with the best hikes in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest listed below, many visitors come for the multitude of boating and fishing opportunities.
The Chequamegon side of the forest covers about 858,400 acres in Ashland, Bayfield, Sawyer, Price, Taylor and Vilas counties, while the Nicolet side of the forest covers nearly 661,400 acres in Florence, Forest, Langlade, Oconto, Oneida and Vilas counties.
|Nearest Metro Area||Duluth, MN|
|Area Size||1,534,225 acres|
|Established||March 2, 1933|
|Hiking Trails||800 miles|
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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Hikes in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
(*** = Best hikes in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest)
Anvil Lake Trail System – 6.8 mile loop
The Anvil Trail system is adjacent to Anvil Lake Campground on the south side of Hwy. 70 and also connects with the Nicolet North Trail system, the larger Hidden Lake Trail System and to the Franklin Lake, and Luna-White Deer Campground via a connector trail.
This is one of the oldest and most popular cross-country ski trails in the Eagle River area. Several loops are available over varied terrain from easy to difficult. Consider combining the West Trail, Lake Loop, and Ninemile Trail for a nearly 7 mile loop.
Chute Pond Overlook Trail – 0.7 mile loop
This short, moderately steep trail leads to the top of a rock outcrop that features several vistas. Three of the vistas overlook Chute Pond, one looks over a Forest Service tree plantation, and one looks north along State Highway 32 with Bagley Rapids on the west and Green Lake on the east. At the northernmost vista, look north to see the last remaining Forest Service fire lookout tower almost six miles away at Mountain. Looking south from the southernmost vista you can see the radio tower on Suring Hill, about eight miles away. Be sure to bring your binoculars on this hike!
Hidden Lakes Trail*** – 13.8 mile loop
Long distance trail providing the chance for an overnight camping by a small remote lake. The trail begins midway on the Franklin Nature Trail (in Franklin Lake Campground) and loops to the south around Butternut Lake, passing Luna-White Deer Campground and then back west and north to Franklin Lake Campground.
Sites along the way include several small lakes with scenic vistas and a remarkable stand of old hemlock trees. Dispersed camp along the way near one of the small lakes at the headwaters of the Pine River (a state designated wild and scenic river) or at either of the developed campgrounds.
Pick up a trail map at the Eagle River office or at the trailhead before starting this trail. Several sections of the trail follow other trails and old roads so it’s a good idea to have a map in hand. Look for white diamond-shaped reassurance markers on trees which designate the Hidden Lakes Trail.
Ice Age Trail (Jerry Lake Segment) – 15.2 miles one-way
The 1,000 mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a continuous footpath through diverse landscapes that follows the features that mark the furthest advance of the last glacier in Wisconsin. Because of its tremendous geological significance, the trail is one of 11 national scenic trails. Consider taking the Jerry Lake Segment of the Ice Age Trail within the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. From its starting point at the Sailor Creek Road (FR-571) southern Trail access, the segment angles northwest to the shore of Jerry Lake.
Morgan Falls Trail + St. Peter’s Dome Trail*** – 3.8 miles out and back
The trail to Morgan Falls features an accessible trail with boardwalk and bridge that is nearly .75 miles one-way. The area was devastated during the 2016 flood event which washed out the parking area and a majority of the trail. The waterfall is beautiful and the area offers climbing options to those willing. The trail to St. Peter’s Dome is nearly 2 miles one-way and is fairly rugged with exposed rocks and steep slopes. From the top, is a breathtaking view of Chequamegon Bay of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands.
North Country National Scenic Trail (Marengo River Valley Section) – 7.4 miles out and back
The North Country National Scenic Trail is managed primarily as a long distance hiking trail. A long term goal for this trail is to have a continuous hiking trail from New York state to North Dakota. 61 miles of the trail run through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
One of the most popular sections of NCT in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is at Marengo Valley. This hike makes a first stop at Juniper Rock Overlook and gives you a breathtaking view of the Marengo River Valley. The next stop will be on a bridge over the Marengo River followed by a tour of the Swedish Settlement from the late 1800s. 2 more overlooks of the Marengo River Valley offer excellent views of the surrounding countryside.
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