Three to See: Rusk County

Kayaking the Flambeau River, Rusk CountyYou’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. Railroad displays in Ladysmith. Several Rusk County communities sprung up thanks to Wisconsin’s booming lumber industry in the late 1800s, and with the influx of businesses and people came the railways. Rail travel was a huge part of Rusk County’s early history and continues today, with tracks running through all of the county’s communities. Visitors can see a steam engine, cabooses and more at historic displays around Ladysmith, the county seat. ‘Old Smoky’ steam engine: Westgate Plaza, Lake Avenue/Highway 8, Ladysmith; Soo Line Diesel Engine, Post Office Express Car, Passenger Baggage Car, First Class Coach, Soo Line Caboose: Rusk County Visitors Center, Highway 27, two blocks south of Highway 8; Restored caboose: near the Rusk County Community Library, Corbett Avenue; www.ruskcountywi.com/attractions.museums-history-displays.php

Wild rivers and glacial lakes. Rusk County’s rugged wilderness is a great place to unwind, and nowhere is that more true than on the rivers that cut through the ancient landscape. Head out on the Chippewa River for fantastic fishing or brave the Jump River, one of the wildest waterways in the Midwest. The little-known Thornapple River teems with wildlife, and the Flambeau River, which flows through northeastern Rusk County, is one of the area’s gems, offering great angling and paddling opportunities. Rusk County’s rivers have seen their share of traffic throughout the centuries – including Native Americans, French fur traders and loggers – yet they remain as scenic and inspiring today as they were hundreds of years ago. ruskcountywi.com/four-rivers/

The Blue Hills. Rusk County is 900 square miles of pure wilderness pleasure. One of the many great places to get away from it all is the Blue Hills, which sit between Ladysmith and nearby Rice Lake. In the winter, visitors can strap on their skis or snowshoes and take off down the pristine trails. In the summer, nature lovers can hike through the woods and catch a glimpse of the native wildlife. And get this: the Blue Hills are actually blue when seen through the mist. www.bluehillstrail.com

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