Shimmering lakes and Wisconsin's beautiful North Woods wilderness await you on the Bearskin State Park Trail. The trail provides a splendid journey along an old Milwaukee Road rail corridor that hauled white pine to the Midwest and later carried a passenger train named the "Hiawatha."
The trail traverses an area of one of the densest concentrations of lakes in the world. Converted railroad trestles help you glide across long spans of lakes covered in lily pads. On the Bearskin trail, 8 of 13 trestles cross the trail's namesake, Bearskin Creek, and act as lookout landings for bald eagles, loons and other wildlife. Watch for snapping turtles basking in the sun.
Bearskin State Park Trail starts in Minocqua, where a long boardwalk across shimmering Lake Minocqua is the beginning of an 18.3-mile venture south where you'll encounter a beautiful, remote wilderness, plus a few picnic tables and portable restrooms at various trailheads.
Several interpretive signs and old railroad structures provide a glimpse into the rich history of this railroad corridor. A century-old railroad line shed, approximately 9.5 miles from Minocqua, attests to the rustic living conditions of some railroad workers, and old photographs illustrate the challenging nature of railroad labor. During the warmer months, hikers and bikers hit these trails and take in the astounding lake vistas. Snowmobiles are permitted in winter, and many connecting trails provide endless hours of exploration.
At trail's end you can continue for another 14 miles on the Hiawatha Trail
, where both trails meet at County Highway K just east of where it intersects with US 51.
The allure of these North Woods trails lies in their isolated, scenic charm. If you want to explore both trails, plan accordingly; besides one remote restroom facility on the Bearskin, there are no other amenities or easy access to food and water.
A state pass is required for cyclists and cross-country skiers over 16 years old. For more information, contact Wisconsin State Parks
To access the southern end of the Bearskin trail, take US 51 south from Minocqua to County Road K and turn left. The trailhead will be on the left, about 0.75 mile from the turn.
The northern end is in the town of Minocqua. Take US 51 to Minocqua and before entering the downtown area, turn left onto Park Avenue, continuing until the road veers right, then becomes Front Street. The trailhead parking lot is located off Front Street behind the Post Office.