Monthly Archives: February 2012

February 29, 2012

Three Treks to Do in Hiking Boots (or Snowshoes)

In late winter, when many outdoor enthusiasts are hanging up their equipment and thinking of spring, hikers are contemplating one simple question: hiking boots or snowshoes?
Hiking is truly something you can do all year long. There’s no terrain or trail condition in Wisconsin that cannot be conquered by an intrepid traveler. And with snowshoes, even the most remote patch of wilderness is open to exploration.

Snowshoeing is, in essence, hiking with special footwear. A hiker with a pair of snowshoes will have no trouble planning an enjoyable late-winter hiking getaway. Here are three ideal trails for late winter walks, whether the trails are clear or there’s snow on the ground.

Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest

Located north of West Bend, the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest offers hikers 30,000 acres of rolling hills, quiet forests and beautiful trails. Numerous lakes dot the landscape, products of the last ice age. The forest offers a number of trail systems for hiking, including the Butler Lake Trail, Greenbush Trails, New Fane Trails, Parnell Tower Trail, Tamarack Trail and Zilmer Trails. Find maps for all the trails in the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest.

Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area

Another great hiking destination with numerous small lakes is the Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area in Vilas County. The 2,200-acre property protects 15 wild lakes and ponds. It is a real gem and an outstanding place for hiking and snowshoeing. The wildlife viewing here is extraordinary, with everything from bald eagles to rarely seen species such as the Canada lynx and even moose. See a map of the Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area.

Schmeeckle Reserve

Snowy hike in the woodsDuring the late winter, the trails at the 280-acre Schmeeckle Reserve in Stevens Point are ideal for hiking or snowshoeing. The reserve is a natural oasis and a haven for wildlife. Five miles of trails run through the Schmeeckle Reserve. These trails connect with the 30-mile Green Circle Trail, which winds its way through the Stevens Point area. There’s a lot of territory for a hiker to cover. See a map of the Schmeeckle Reserve.


February 29, 2012

Three to See: Boulder Junction

Fishing in Boulder Junction, WIYou’ve made the decision to hit the open road and visit one (or all) of our dozen unique destinations.

So what are you going to do once you get there? Here are three local highlights to help you plan your trip.

Wonderful waterways. They don’t call it the Musky Capital of the World® for nothing. Boulder Junction’s 194 (yes, nearly 200) lakes offer anglers an opportunity to track down the elusive musky, as well as walleye, northern pike, bass and panfish. An array of guide services in the area can give you everything you need for a fishing expedition, whether it’s for an afternoon or a full week. If fishing’s not your thing, take your canoe or kayak out for a paddle through the wilderness on one of the many secluded, no-motor waterways.

Hiking trails. You don’t have to be in a boat to experience Boulder Junction’s scenic beauty, though. Hop on your bike or lace up your walking shoes to enjoy miles of trails that carve their way through the Northwoods. The Lumberjack Trail and Crystal Lake Trail twist and turn through more than 10 miles of towering pine forests and scenic wetlands. The North Trout Lake Trail, located 4 miles south of Boulder Junction on Highway M, takes hikers on a 1-mile loop around one of Trout Lake’s peninsulas.

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest. A massive tract of land spanning three counties in northern Wisconsin, the Northern Highland-American Legion State forest accounts for more than 225,000 acres of the Northwoods. Camping, canoeing, hiking, bird watching and snowmobiling are just some of the activities available to visitors. The forest boasts hundreds of campsites, from modern to primitive. 4125 County Highway M, Boulder Junction;; (715) 542-3923


February 23, 2012

Leap Into Fun!

It’s easy to win a Stevens Point Area getaway.
But, be careful – travel to the Stevens Point Area is habit forming!

Make the most of the extra day this year!

Enter now, and you could be the lucky winner of a  FREE Stevens Point Area Leap Into Fun getaway.

The package includes overnight accommodations,  gift certificates for dining, attractions and more!

Prize Package includes:
Two-night stay gift certificate
Dining gift certificate
Wellness Spa gift certificate
Clay Corner Studio gift certificate
Mullins Cheese gift certificate
Stevens Point Brewery Tour (for four)

Enter Now!



February 22, 2012

Three to See: Black River Falls

Ice diving in Wazeee Lake, Black River Falls

Ice diving in Wazee Lake

You’ve made the decision to hit the open road and visit one (or all) of our dozen unique destinations.

So what are you going to do once you get there? Here are three local highlights to help you plan your trip.

1. Wazee Lake. Did you know the deepest lake in Wisconsin is manmade? Wazee Lake, situated about 8 miles east of downtown Black River Falls, was formed when the Jackson County Iron Mine Quarry shut down in 1983, filling the site – complete with roadways and a small forest – with water that now reaches depths of 355 feet. The crystal-clear water provides fantastic scuba diving opportunities all year long, and divers can navigate sheer rock faces, marvel at the rich aquatic life and even explore a shipwreck.

2. Black River State Forest. Spanning 68,000 acres, the Black River State Forest was established in 1957 and offers visitors a wide array of recreational opportunities, from camping and hiking to snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. The forest features bountiful wildlife, including black bears, white-tailed deer, bobcats, ruffed grouse and wolves. One of the forest’s unique attractions is the Dike 17 Wildlife Area, a 3,700-acre site featuring 20 flowages constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. Today, rare birds like the whooping crane can be seen in the area. 910 Highway 54 East, Black River Falls;; (715) 284-4103

3. Sand Creek Brewing Company. If your travels make you thirsty, stop by the award-winning Sand Creek Brewery in downtown Black River Falls, just a few blocks from the Black River. Located in a brewery building that’s been around since 1856, Sand Creek moved its operations to the area in 2004 after buying out the Pioneer Brewing Company. Sand Creek’s brews have been honored by the prestigious World Beer Cup. Tours of the facility are offered every Friday at 3 p.m. 320 Pierce St., Black River Falls;; (715) 284-7553



February 20, 2012

It’s Time to Shift Your Gears

We’re all friends here – or will be soon, right? – so let’s agree on one thing: 2012 has the potential to be a pretty crummy year.

Bitter partisanship in our political process. A topsy-turvy economy that’s up one minute, down the next. A do-it-now, plugged-in, share-everything culture that says a smart phone is more important than a good book and a comfortable deck chair. And, if we believe the Mayans (maybe we shouldn’t: I bet they didn’t even have smart phones), the world’s going to end in December. BEFORE you get any of your Christmas presents.

It’s time to change things up, time to get away from all that negativity. It’s time to Shift Your Gears.

We’re here to help you do just that. Set aside a weekend, fill up the tank, grab the kids and head down the highway to one of Wisconsin Travel Best Bets’ 12 great destinations (or better yet, set aside a dozen weekends and visit all of them).

And we’re not sending you out there without any resources, either. What you’ll find on this blog: tips and tricks to make the most out of your travels; regular features like “Three to See”, which highlights (guess how many) things that should be on your to-do list for each of our destinations; updates on our super-cool Shift Your Gears Contest, where you can win a weekend getaway for two to the destination of your choosing; and photos, videos and more that show off everything our locales have to offer.

Check back here often, as we’ll be posting frequent updates. Safe travels!