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Northwoods, Wisconsin

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Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know … ?

  • The 28 lakes of the Eagle River Chain O’Lakes comprise the world’s largest chain of inland lakes.
  • Wisconsin sells around 1.3 million fishing licenses annually, and anglers catch about 61 million fish.
  • Of Wisconsin’s 15,074 documented lakes (some very tiny), only about 40% have names.
  • In Wisconsin, 116 lakes are called Mud Lake, the most popular name.
  • Villas County resident Carl Eliason created and patented the motor toboggan, aka snowmobile (1927).

Water, woods and wildlife

Five counties in northeast Wisconsin, covering around 4,700 square miles, comprise the region called Northwoods. The counties are Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas.

It’s not rocket science to conclude the region gets its name for the massive stands of forest to be found there, but Northwoods also is known for its thousands of freshwater lakes and numberless rivers and streams, from the slow to the fast moving.

Predictably, then, Northwoods is a prime area for pursuing all sorts of water-based activities, generally in the warmer months, including boating, canoeing, kayaking, sightseeing cruises and swimming. Waterskiing and wakeboarding are on offer, too.

Another huge category of Northwoods diversions centers around fishing, angling for a wide range of species, to be found in lakes and rivers up and down the region. And, when the water freezes over, ice fishing is the backup option.

As for all those trees, they appeal to travelers at all points on the personality spectrum, offering the ideal get-away-from-it-all locations for camping — or for picnics, wildlife viewing and quiet reflection. The region is known for its plethora of trails, good for biking, hiking, horseback riding and snowmobiling, depending on season, and, for the more independent-minded, options to drive ATVs somewhere off those trails.

Many lakes offer the resort facilities that most visitors prefer over a tent. In addition, entertainment and facilities in the small towns include lumberjack shows and museums that recall the region’s logging history. Northwoods hosts the Lumberjack World Championships each year.
The region also hosts the World Championship Snowmobile Derby, fittingly in Vilas County where the snowmobile was invented.

And, for something quirky to consider, Oneida County calls itself Hodag Country, meaning it purports to be home to an elusive woodland creature, dubbed the hodag, a creature that takes the blame for every fish that ever got away or every missing golf ball. There is even a Hodag Country Festival (meaning country music) each summer in Rhinelander.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Go waterskiing or wakeboarding at the Eagle River Chain O’Lakes.
  • In the land where the snowmobile was born, Vilas County, take advantage of some 700 miles of snowmobile trails. Attend the World Championship Snowmobile Derby in January, also in Vilas County.
  • Several counties — Langlade, Lincoln and Oneida — promote their suitability for mountain bikers. Choose a mountain bike, or an ATV, to explore the 101,000 acres of the Lincoln County Forest.
  • Camp out somewhere in the vast acres of forest of Wisconsin’s Northwoods.
  • Ice fishing is an option, too, in this northerly part of the U.S.
  • If you have a qualifying Jeep, participate in the Northwoods-Mole Lake Jeep Jamboree, held in midsummer at Crandon.

Things to do for Centrics

  • On Northwoods lakes and rivers, fish for bass, bluegill, crappie, perch, pike, trout or walleye, but especially the musky, for which the state is famous.
  • Choose a quiet lake or river, and spend an afternoon paddling a canoe or kayak.
  • Cycle on one, or more, of the 60-plus designated trails found in Villas County alone.
  • Go horseback riding. Some trail choices are Crocker Hills, Evergreen, Moccasin Lake or Popple Ridge in Langlade County.
  • Several counties — Forest, Langlade and Oneida — invite visitors to take advantage of their cross-country skiing trails. Accept the invitation.
  • Plan for some bird-watching, plus other wildlife spotting that could include bald eagles, bears, deer and wild turkeys. Also, tour the Northwoods Wildlife Center in Minocqua, which is devoted to rehabilitating injured wildlife.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Make use of your clubs at one of the area’s several golf courses.
  • Go swimming in crystal clear lake waters, maybe in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, which has 24 designated beaches.
  • Take a sightseeing cruise or sunset dinner cruise on the Wisconsin River, departing from a point near Rhinelander, seat of Oneida County. Look for bald eagles.
  • In Rhinelander, see a re-created 1870s lumberjack camp, part of the Logging Museum at the Pioneer Park Historical Complex. The complex also includes the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) Museum, Rhinelander School Museum and Soo Line Depot with model railroad display.
  • See a lumberjack show, part historical demonstration and part comedy, in either Hayward or Woodruff, available from late May to early September.
  • Drive the Great Divide National Forest Scenic Byway, a 29-mile route through the heart of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Wisconsin Department of Tourism at www.travelwisconsin.com