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Spring wildflower walks in Vilas County


  • Article
  • Hiking
  • Parks & Natural Areas
  • Spring

Here are some top spots to discover what’s blooming this spring in Vilas County.

Watching the Northwoods of Wisconsin come to life in the spring is an amazing sight. Green overtakes the gray and life begins again; its story told in wildflowers. Here are some top spots to discover what’s blooming this spring in Vilas County.

The Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest is 232,000 acres of unspoiled beauty in Vilas, Iron and Oneida counties in northern Wisconsin. Not far from Boulder Junction, is a short, easy hike known as the North Trout Nature Trail. Just a mile long, it winds around the shores of Trout Lake and is a gorgeous place to spot wildflowers like the moccasin flower (also known as the pink lady’s slipper), the delicate trailing arbutus, and fragrant wild lily-of-the-valley.

For a more challenging hike, check out the Raven Nature Trail near Manitowish Waters. Heavily wooded and moderately hilly, this trail is full of springtime beauty. Look for the bell-shaped, pink flowers of bog rosemary and white fluffy cotton grass along the way. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the uniquely shaped carnivorous sundew and pitcher plants too.

Within the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest is the Lake Laura Hardwoods State Natural Area, just a couple miles from Star Lake. Here you’ll find trees up to 250 years old along with the musky-smelling wood anemone, the aptly-named American starflower and delicate sessile-leaved bellwort.

The 1.5-million acre Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is another great spot for spring wildflowers. Here you’ll discover cut-leaved toothwort, blue cohosh, wild ginger, blue-bead lilies and the always stunning trillium.

Also common in the forest are blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries. Unlike wildflowers, that can’t be picked in the forests, you’re welcome to pluck and eat these wild fruits as you stroll.

For more about Vilas County’s beautiful trail systems, click here.