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One-of-a-kind winter experiences in Vilas County


  • Article
  • Cross-country Skiing
  • Fishing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Trails
  • Winter

Vilas County’s wide-open wildernesses are perfect for plenty of outdoor activities in the winter. Here’s where to start your next adventure.

Snowshoeing in Vilas County Wisconsin

Don’t miss your opportunity to do something new in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Vilas County’s wide-open wildernesses—from stunning, snow-covered forests to frozen lakes—are perfect for plenty of outdoor activities, including snowshoeing, ice fishing and cross-country skiing. Here’s where to start your next winter adventure.

Before you get started, check out the latest snow conditions on our reports page and download our free trails app to help you find the perfect place for your winter adventure.

Snowshoeing, Land O’ Lakes

Get out and explore the Northwoods with only the sound of the crunching snow to keep you company. Land O’ Lakes—located in northern Vilas County on the Wisconsin-Michigan border—is home to some wonderful wilderness areas to explore, including the Ottawa National Forest and the Sylvania Wilderness in Upper Michigan and the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Vilas County. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and enjoy these serene, snowy surroundings.

Ice fishing, Boulder Junction

Boulder Junction in central Vilas County is known as the Musky Capital of the World®, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of fine fishing once musky season is over. There are nearly 200 lakes within 10 miles of downtown, so there are lots of opportunities for anglers to get out on the ice—and away from it all—in the winter. Popular fishing lakes in and around Boulder Junction include Boulder Lake (a walleye hotspot close to Boulder Junction’s downtown), Allequash Lake (an undeveloped lake with abundant panfish) and White Sand Lake (you’ll find walleye and maybe even some musky here).

Cross-country skiing, St. Germain

Grab a pair of skis and a sense of adventure—Vilas County is a great place for cross-country skiing, and St. Germain in the southern part of the county is a great place to do it. St. Germain is home to the Awassa Nature Preserve & Hiking Trail, which offers several groomed cross-country skiing loops, ranging in lengthy from 1 mile to more than 3 miles. Another popular route is the Shannon Lake Trail, which offers routes from 2 to 7 miles on the scenic shores of Shannon Lake just northeast of St. Germain. Trails are not groomed, so it’s a little more of a challenge, but the Northwoods views are worth it. If you’re looking for a warmup after your trek, head to St. Germain for a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or some hearty food at more than two dozen cafes, restaurants and taverns.