Quantcast

North Country Trail Posts

North Country Trail in Wisconsin: Crossing the Border

This is the third chapter in my quest to hike the North Country Trail across Wisconsin, but logistically it probably should be the first. As I’ve explained in previous chapters, the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota and the North Country Trail in Wisconsin aren’t properly connected yet at the border. The best thing a purist can do to fill the gap is hike on Minnesota State Highway 23 and a pair of county roads to get to a trailhead. So that’s what I did. Because I’m an annoying purist. Sort of.

It’s not so much that I’m determined to be annoying and pure. There are basically three reasons I wanted to hike on the roadways. 1) I know from experience that having a somewhat methodical goal inspires me to stay active. 2) If the pieces don’t all connect, it’s easy to lose track of where I’m at in the process, thereby thwarting reason #1. 3) Hiking on a trail in May is less fun anyway because of mud and ticks, so roads might be the best option anyway. (And if I were a true purist I’d strap on a backpack and hike across the whole state in a few days instead of breaking it up into numerous easy hikes.)

With all that in mind I parked my car on the side of Highway 23 near the Wild Valley Road sign and set out to connect my Superior Hiking Trail adventures to my fall 2018 North Country Trail hike at Nemadji River Valley.

North Country Trail in Wisconsin: Nemadji River Valley

If you’ve ever hiked Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail to the Wisconsin border you know the trail ends there, but doesn’t really end there. Despite a sign on a tree that reads “Southern Terminus of SHT” and a separate post sticking out of the ground that reads “Not a trail,” there is clearly a trail there leading into Wisconsin. But it doesn’t go far.

The rest of the text on the terminus sign explains: “Spur trail from here to be built by North Country Trail to a parking lot in WI. Trail now dead-ends ahead.”

I explained all that 17 months ago in a Saturday Essay titled: “North Country Trail: Wood Tick Flats,” which was the first report on my quest to hike the North Country Trail across Wisconsin. That summer I covered exactly zero miles on the trail, which is not a great start to a 200-mile journey. If you read that first North Country Trail essay from June 2017 you know I didn’t hike on the trail that day because the grass was long and loaded with ticks. So I waited and saved the hike for a day with more favorable conditions … 17 months later.

What I lack in ambition I make up for with tenacity, right? My motto is: “Never quit. Take a nap and try again later when you feel more up to it.”

North Country Trail Hike 100 Challenge … accepted

Linda O’Connell of Onalaska recently completed a North Country Trail Hike 100 Challenge. She went on four separate hikes from June to October, passing through Pictured Rocks, the Chequamegon National Forest, Brule River State Park Forest and Douglas County Forest, to reach a total of 100 miles.

“I had some struggles along the way,” she writes on the YouTube description. “I fell at Cheq & had blisters at Superior but I managed to achieve the 100 miles.”

North Country Trail nears connection to Superior Hiking Trail

North Country Trail at MN and WI border

A new 4-mile section of the North Country National Scenic Trail, located 17 miles southwest of Superior, opens Saturday, bringing the trail another step closer to connecting to Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail.

The new segment crosses the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s MacQuarrie Wetlands in western Douglas County and features scenic overlooks of the Nemadji River Valley and the basin of Glacial Lake Duluth. It also crosses a section of Douglas County Forest and Wisconsin DNR lands.

Link to driving map