DescriptionIn north-central and northeastern Wisconsin, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest comprises 1.5 million acres in four separate regions. The Chequamegon (she-Wa-ma-gon) area covers 856,938 acres east, south and northwest of Park Falls on SRs 182 and 13; the Nicolet (nik-oh-LAY) area totals 661,200 acres east of Rhinelander and is accessible via several major highways.
More than 800 lakes dot the Chequamegon forest, where tree species include maple, aspen, pine, spruce, balsam, oak and birch. Licensed hunting and fishing are available in season. The Chippewa, Flambeau, Jump, St. Croix and Yellow rivers provide good canoeing in the spring and early summer. Muskellunge fishing is excellent.
An extensive 200-mile trail system threads through the Chequamegon, where a 49-mile segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail follows the terminal moraines of the last glaciers. Providing a system of loops used for cross-country skiing as well as hiking, the Rock Lake National Recreation Trail passes near Cable. Maps of snowmobile and cross-country ski trails are available at the forest supervisor headquarters.
The North Country National Scenic Trail traverses 34 miles of the northern part of the forest, roughly between Mellen and Iron River. Part of this route crosses the Rainbow Lake and Porcupine Lake wildernesses. Together covering about 11,000 acres of glaciated, lake-dotted woodlands, the wilderness areas offer an opportunity to experience a Northern hardwood forest free of development.
Primitive trails thread through the Nicolet region's three wilderness areas: Whisker Lake Wilderness Area, 8 miles west of Florence on SR 70, containing Riley and Whisker lakes; Blackjack Springs Wilderness Area, 8 miles east of Eagle River on SR 70, containing spring ponds; and the 22,000-acre Headwaters Wilderness Area, 8 miles east of Three Lakes on SR 32 and FR 2183.
With 1,200 lakes, 1,100 miles of trout streams and more than 400 spring ponds, the Nicolet forest also offers good fishing; there is hunting for deer, bears and upland game in season. Canoeing on the Wolf and Peshtigo rivers provides white-water excitement, while the Oconto, Pine, Popple and Wisconsin rivers are gentler.
The Great Divide Scenic Byway (SR 77) provides visitors with some of the most picturesque scenery in Wisconsin. The portion of this route between Hayward and Glidden is punctuated by several highlands known as the Penokee Range. The byway takes its name from the ridges that form the Great Divide, which separates waters flowing north to Lake Superior from waters flowing south to the Mississippi River.
There are more than 50 developed campgrounds in the combined forests; campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but a limited number may be reserved in advance. Rustic cabins also are available. For reservations, phone (877) 444-6777 daily 10-8.
For information about campgrounds and facilities, phone the forest headquarters at (715) 362-1300, Mon.-Fri. 8-4:30.
Information also is available from district ranger offices in Eagle River, Florence, Glidden, Hayward, Lakewood, Laona, Medford, Park Falls, Washburn and the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland.