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Trails, parks & natural areas to visit this spring


  • Article
  • Hiking
  • Lakes & Rivers
  • Parks & Natural Areas
  • Spring
  • Trails

Visitors will find outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation this spring at scenic trails and natural areas throughout Vilas County.

Woman and dog hiking on Trampers Trail near Star Lake Vilas County WI

Don’t miss your next adventure in Vilas County—visitors to northern Wisconsin will find outstanding opportunities for outdoor recreation on nearly 90 trails, as well as scenic parks and natural areas where you can enjoy all the beauty the Northwoods has to offer. Here are a few suggestions on where to go this spring.

Before exploring Vilas County’s trails, don’t forget to download the free Map It Vilas County app (available for Apple and Android devices). The app will help you find trails by location, activities, length, amenities, and more. You’ll also be able to navigate the trails even if you don’t have a cell signal.

Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area

This 2,220-acre wilderness area about 3 miles southeast of Presque Isle in northwestern Vilas County protects nearly 10 miles of undeveloped shoreline on 15 wild lakes and ponds. The preserve is a popular spot for birding and wildlife viewing, as the lakes and surrounding forests are a good habitat for loons, osprey, otters, fishers, and other creatures. The wilderness area is open from sunrise to sunset.

Lac Vieux Desert Reservoir Park

See where the mighty Wisconsin River gets its start at this small but scenic park 7 miles northwest of Phelps. The park sits on the western edge of Lac Vieux Desert, a 4,000-acre lake that spans the Wisconsin-Upper Michigan border and is the starting point for the Wisconsin River’s 400-mile voyage through the state. The park offers wildlife viewing opportunities and great views of the lake, as well as a historic marker at the source of the river.

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest

This massive tract of woodlands covers more than 230,000 acres in Vilas, Oneida and Iron counties in northern Wisconsin, so there’s obviously a lot to explore. Hit the trails in the spring to find smaller crowds and stunning scenery as wildflowers start to bloom. The state forest has four nature trails and seven trails dedicated to hiking, including the Madeline Trail, the Raven Trail, and the Lumberjack Trail.

Star Lake Nature Trail

This outstanding nature trail is located on a peninsula that juts out into Star Lake in central Vilas County. Choose from a one- or two-mile trail that offers beautiful views of the lake and interpretive signage about the area and its natural history. There is no trail fee, and pets and bikes are not allowed on the trail.