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Parks & recreation areas you shouldn’t miss


  • Article
  • Parks & Natural Areas
Family hiking in woods in Vilas County Wisconsin

Vilas County in northern Wisconsin is home to some truly wonderful wildernesses, including national forests, state forests, and wilderness and wildlife areas. Here’s a look at a few to put on your list the next time you visit the Northwoods.

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

This vast forest covers nearly 1.5 million acres in northern Wisconsin and stretches all the way from Ashland County in the northwest to Oconto County in the southeast. Landscapes vary widely, including hardwood forests, pine savannas, wetlands, bogs, and hundreds of glacial lakes. Parts of both the Chequamegon and Nicolet sides of the forest can be found in Vilas County—more than 37,000 acres are located in and around Phelps, with smaller segments in Conover and Eagle River.

Learn more about the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest here.

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest

Established in 1925, the Northern Highland-American Legion (NHAL) State Forest protects the headwaters of three important waterways: the Wisconsin River, the Flambeau River, and the Manitowish River. The NHAL covers more than 232,000 acres across three Northwoods counties and is a popular destination for outdoor recreation in all four seasons. It’s home to the highest concentration of lakes in Wisconsin and features nearly 90 miles of multi-use trails. The Crystal Lake Visitor Station is located on County Hwy N between Boulder Junction and Sayner.

Learn more about the NHAL here.

Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area

Head east from Presque Isle to find the Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area, a 2,200-acre site that’s home to nearly 6 miles of trails and 15 lakes and ponds. The preserve is open daily from sunrise to sunset for hiking, birdwatching, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Visitors will find a parking area on East Bay Road just north of County Hwy B.

Learn more about the Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area here.