Want to get out and play in the snow? Vilas County is a great destination for a quick weekend getaway, whether you’re bringing your snowmobile or want to take in the scenery on skis or snowshoes. Here’s a look at a few places to go for a fun winter weekend in northern Wisconsin that won’t take a lot of planning.
For skiers and snowshoers
Head to the Northwoods this winter to find some of the state’s best spots for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Vilas County is home to boundless opportunities for outdoor recreation—all you need is a pair of skis or snowshoes and a sense of adventure. Here’s a quick weekend getaway that highlights some of the best Vilas County has to offer.
Arrive in the Minocqua Area in southern Vilas County and enjoy the Island City’s outstanding options for shopping and dining before you check into your hotel, cabin or resort. If you want to hit the trails right away, take a trip to Minocqua Winter Park, which is about a 20-minute drive from downtown Minocqua. The park is home to more than 50 miles of cross-country ski trails (open for classic skiing and skate skiing), as well as six snowshoe trails varying in length from 1 to 5 miles.
Head north to Manitowish Waters to visit the North Lakeland Discovery Center, which maintains 12 miles of snowshoeing and cross-country ski trails. The gentle terrain winds through beautiful Northwoods scenery along Statehouse Lake, through a bog and along the nearby Manitowish River. Trails are groomed and tracked for classic skiing, and the center also hosts several programs, including guided ski trips, snowshoe outings and interpretive hikes.
Explore the WinMan Trails between Manitowish Waters and Winchester. This 1,300-acre site sits in the heart of the Northwoods in northwestern Vilas County and offers more than 13 miles of cross-country ski trails groomed for classic and skate skiing. The trails are designed for skiers of all levels and include fun downhills and some challenging uphill stretches. There are also seven miles of trail loops for snowshoers to explore.
For the snowmobiler
Vilas County is a great destination in general for snowmobiling, as it’s home to hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails—groomed nightly by hard-working local clubs—that crisscross Wisconsin’s Northwoods and extend into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. But a few communities have a particularly close connection to the popular winter sport. Here’s a weekend itinerary snowmobilers can enjoy:
Arrive at your hotel, motel, or cabin in Eagle River, the Snowmobile Capital of the World®. Eagle River boasts more than 500 miles of snowmobile trails and is consistently ranked as one of the top snowmobiling destinations in the Midwest. Learn a little about the history of snowmobiling at the World Snowmobile Headquarters or check out one of the annual events at the World Championship Derby Complex.
Head west and ride to St. Germain, home to Wisconsin’s largest snowmobile club and more than 100 miles of scenic trails that traverse the snow-covered beauty of northern Wisconsin. St. Germain is also home to the Snowmobile Hall of Fame, which features an expansive collection of historic snowmobiles and other equipment and tells the stories of those who have made significant contributions to the sport.
Load up your sled and head to (or leave early and take a longer ride) to Sayner-Star Lake, the birthplace of the snowmobile. Local businessman and inventor Carl Eliason crafted his first “motor toboggan” in 1925, and Sayner-Star Lake has been a popular snowmobiling destination ever since. You can ride nearly 80 miles of expertly groomed trails in the Sayner-Star Lake area or venture on a longer ride to Conover, Phelps, Land O’ Lakes or the Minocqua Area.
Before you launch your winter adventure, don’t forget to download the free Map It Vilas County trails app, which will help you navigate snowmobile trails, ski trails and much more throughout the Northwoods—it even works if you don’t have a cell signal.