Quiet Winter Fun
You’ll find some of the best cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the nation in Northwest Wisconsin. The rolling terrain and snowy winters make for primo silent sport conditions.
Make the most of a ski weekend at the Heartwood Conference Center & Retreat in Trego. The retreat, open to the public, offers day passes and rentals along with guided ski trips and lodging packages. My favorite, the moon lit guided trip, includes dinner at the retreat’s Pine Lodge Restaurant.
Not so much of a skier? Snowshoeing is an easy and accessible way to explore. The Blue Hills Trail in Bruce offers 5K of snowshoeing along with their well developed network of ski trails. Hike up to the Brule River State Forest in Brule on February 10 for a candlelit ski and snowshoe. Sponsored by the Brule Valley Club, no trail pass is needed for this evening event.
The penultimate silent sport event, the American Birkebeiner ski race is February 24. With a whole weekend of activities, it’s quite easy to get ‘Birkie Fever.’ Race registrations are closed, but in addition to being a spectator, there are plenty of things to do in the Hayward Lakes area that weekend.
Snowshoeing and wonderful opportunities for wildlife and nature photography can be found on the Trego Nature and Trego Lake Trails along the Namekagon River.
Fat Tires & Big Snow
Fat Biking has become the hottest wintertime silent sport, and Northwest Wisconsin is no slouch in offering plenty of opportunity for fat biking enthusiasts. Winter cycling is allowed on all Wisconsin DNR trails open to bicycles with the exception of groomed cross country ski or snowmobile trails.
Similar to a mountain bike, the fat tire models have super wide knobby tires that glide over snow. The CAMBA Trail system in Sawyer County, offers 50 miles of groomed winter trails just for fat bike riding. The trail system, a combination of single track, forest roads and town roads, offers a wide variety of skill levels. So, it’s easy to pick one that matches your technical expertise.
Why not bike to the island? When the Chequamegon Bay freezes, the ice road from Bayfield to LaPointe opens up. Biking this two mile stretch to the island is no doubt a unique and exciting experience. Plus, there’s plenty to explore on Madeline Island. Be aware that ice conditions change daily, so check the Madeline Island Ice Road Facebook page or call 715-747-5400 for up to date information.
Taming the Trails
Thousands of miles of trails are open for snowmobiling and scores of ATV/UTV trails fill the region, making Northwest Wisconsin a sledder’s paradise. With so many of the trails linking up local restaurants and establishments, it’s not just a trail system but a transportation network.
Start your snowmobile weekend at the Polk County Information Center, located only 50 miles northeast of the Twin Cities. Winter hours are 9-5 weekdays and 9-2 weekends when the snowmobile trails are open. From there, start exploring the 350 miles of groomed snowmobile and ATV trails, including the Gandy Dancer Trail.
Hurley, Wisconsin is the state’s snow capital. It’s no wonder . . . with an average snowfall of 300 inches a winter, you’re guaranteed primo snowmobiling conditions. In addition to hundreds of miles of marked trails, there are also 175,000 acres of public land for remote sledding. Check in with the Hurley Visitors Center for trail information.
According to BurnettCountyFun.com, “Winters in Burnett County are the most exciting and refreshing time to be outdoors.” With a 300 mile county-wide trail system, Danbury is a great spot to make your home base for a weekend getaway enjoying countless miles of snowmobile and ATV trails that spoke out from the small community.
Cooler than a Snowglobe
When the splashy colors of fall fade, the beauty of winter creates a spectacular palate of whites and blues, with dazzling sparkles of ice and bright sun.
Located just north of Bayfield, the Mainland Ice Caves can be accessed by starting at Meyers Beach, where parking is available. Once you are parked and ready for your hike, it is just over a mile to the first set of Ice Cave features, including Crevasse, Keyhole and Garage. The caves invite you to enter and see their true beauty with ice formations that change shapes and colors with each day. You can hike, ski, or snowshoe out to the caves; however, bicycles are not permitted. Please remember to always “pack in, pack out” any garbage. Be ready for a photo taking extravaganza with each new feature you explore. It is absolutely necessary that you check the Ice Cave conditions using an official source before heading out: on Facebook at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, nps.gov/apis/mainland-caves-winter.htm or 715-779-3397, extension 3.
Fishing provides year round fun and competition on the lakes across Wisconsin. Price County hosts several tourneys for you to test your fish finding skills. On February 3 is the Ice Fishing on Solberg Lake in Phillips at Roll In Point. The next Saturday, February 10, is the Ice Fishing Jamboree on Spirit Lake just outside of Ogema. To finish the tip-up trifecta is the Soo Lake Resort Fishing Jamboree in Phillips on February 17.
Find all the competition details at pricecountywi.net.
Festivals continue throughout the year in Northwest Wisconsin. No need let the fun fade just because the snow flies. Winter is a great reason to celebrate.
Two days of heart pounding, racing fun is sure to keep you warm at the Apostle Islands Dog Sled Races, February 3-4 in Bayfield. Choose your favorite team of dogs and cheer them on to the finish line.
Take to the winter trails by candlelight at the 25th Annual Candlelight Ski-Hike-Snowshoe on February 3, starting at the at the Flambeau Hills Trailhead, between Winter and Phillips. Almost two kilometers of trails will be lit by more than 600 candles, and millions of stars above. A grill will be available for dinner making and warming fires for chilly toes.
The 35th Annual Wisconsin State Ice Fishing Tournament in Cumberland on February 10 is a full day of fun and competition on Beaver Dam Lake. Prizes and a raffle drawings, including a special kids’ raffle, are included.
How about some Fun on the Frozen Flambeau? This weekend of fun, February 17-18, includes an ice fishing contest, vintage snowmobile show and swap, polar plunge, lawn mower races and much more. All events take place just off of Highway 8 near Ladysmith.
It’s What Inside That Counts
Sometimes you need to beat the winter chill with some fun indoors. What better time to explore the arts, find some fun at a local winery or ride the rails?
Salmagundi Gallery & Fair Trade Gifts in Ashland is a small space with a big heart. Their store features local artists work and fair trade items, and the gallery hosts rotating exhibits. At their monthly Artists’ Reception on February 10, they will be honoring artists Hilary Nelson and Deena Schuppe. Come meet the artists, enjoy live music and maybe find just the right piece for your home.
Dancing Dragonfly Winery has just the thing to help you whisk your winter blues away. On February 10 is the Valentine’s Day Comedy Show & Dinner. Enjoy the humor of Marj Rowan, a buffet dinner and, of course, wine. Join the winery again on March 10 for a day of dancing and wine pairings in a heated tent, and sleigh rides to the vineyards during their Polar Wine Party.
Watch the wonderful wintery world go by with a dinner train ride aboard the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad in Trego. Enjoy the snowy pines and snow blanketed fields from the warmth and comfort of your coach, and raise a toast to the wonders of Wisconsin winters.