Location: Eagle River, Wisconsin
Webpage: National Forest
General Description: Following thousands of years of living in the white pine forests of the northwoods, Europeans beginning arriving in the area in the 1600s. During the 17th century the numbers of fur trappers and traders continued to increase. They were followed by loggers cutting the virgin timber and floating them out using the many rivers and lakes of the region. Logging hit its peak in the 1920s with most large logs transported by railroads. As the land was cleared it was sold to immigrants for farms and homesteads, but the land proved to be better suited to growing trees than crops and by the 1930s most were abandoned. In 1928, the Federal Government began buying abandoned and tax delinquent land and in 1933 created the Nicolet National Forest. During the Great Depression thousands of young out-of-work teens joined the CCC and began improving the National Forest planting thousands of acres of jack and red pine. Today the Nicolet National Forests encompasses over 660,000 acres and includes remote areas of uplands, bogs, wetlands, muskegs, rivers, streams, pine savannas, meadows and many glacial lakes. There are numerous recreational opportunities including camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, cross country skiing and snowmobiling.
1) The Nicolet National Forest is a HUGE area with a LOT of hiking trails through the woods or around the many lakes in the forest. I would strongly recommend visiting the National Forest Office in Eagle River where you can obtain trail guides, road maps, trail maps, etc. We found it very helpful in picking out the hiking trails we would explore.
2) We only took two hikes within the National Forest. The first was the Nature Trail at Franklin Lake. With the brochure we obtain from the National Forest Office we had a useful guide to the many signposts along the trail. This is a loop trail of just over a mile in lenght, but it gives a very good overview of the habitat types found in the northwoods. The trail goes through a small part of a red pine plantation planted by the CCC, an old growth hemlock forest, the lakeshore of Franklin Lake, a bog, and a glacial till sandy ridge. Be sure to use bug spray as the mosquitoes in the bog were a nuisance.
3) The other hike was a 1.5 mile trail around Deer Lake where we saw our first loon in the lake. This is a nice flat trail that hugs the lakeshore, although it was swampy in areas almost convincing us to turn around at a couple of points. Deer Lake is a beautiful blue lake formed by the glaciers that is typical of the region.