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The Heart of Vilas Bike Trail, recognized as a National Recreation Trail, is a 52 mile bike trail that spans the width of Vilas County and some of Iron County Wisconsin.
The trail spans the towns of Mercer, Manitowish Waters, Boulder Junction, Sayner and St. Germain and is made up of five distinct trail sections, listed (west-east) below:
Mercer Hike and Bike Trail (9 miles):
Mercer, a outdoors-lovers destination famous its 378,000 acres of Public Forestland and the massive Turtle Flambeau Flowage, is a great starting point for the Heart of Vilas Bike Trail. The northernmost endpoint of the trail is located near Carow Park, where the trail then continues southeast through Mercer and east towards Manitowish Waters. A hallmark of the trail is the impressive 40-ft bridge was constructed over the Manitowish River.
The eastern end of the trail connects with the Manitowish Waters Bike Trail along two different endpoints, the first along Tower Rd. along the main strip of Manitowish Waters, which connects users to the rest of the Heart of Vilas Bike Trail and the second located near the Manitowish Waters Town Hall, where the western endpoint of the Manitowish Waters Bike Trail is located.
Manitowish Waters Bike Trail (18.6 miles):
Starting from the Manitowish Waters Town Hall, where the trail's western endpoint is located, the Manitowish Waters Bike Trail winds north through the town and from there, carves a rural route from Manitowish Waters all the way to Boulder Junction. The trail's route passes through the Papoose Creek Pines State Natural Area, past Big Lake and Clear Lake until reaching Boulder Junction.
The eastern end of this trail along Main Street connects with the Crystal Lake Trail. A spur along County Highway M heads north from Boulder Junction Main Street.
This portion of the trail features fixtations (a bicycle repair and pump) at the intersection of Hgwy K & H just outside of Boulder Junction and along 5733 Airport Rd. in Manitowish Waters (town hall).
Crystal Lake Trail (11 miles):
The Crystal Lake Trail runs between downtown Boulder Junction (where it connects with the Manitowish Waters Bike Trail) and the the Crystal Lake Campground in northern Wisconsin, passing Trout Lake along the way. The fully-paved trail offers an ideal ride for touring bikes as well as groups riding with younger children. There are lots of places to stop along the way to view the many lakes and some of the largest white pines in the Northwoods. The trail has several scenic bridges and crosses over the the Manitowish River. At the trail's eastern endpoint, it connects with the Plum Lake Trail.
Camping is available at the North Trout Lake Campground; campers can check with the Northern Highlands American Legion State Forest for availability.
This portion of the trail features fixtations (a bicycle repair and pump) at the Boulder Junction Sports and Rec Park, 5358 Park St and at the intersection of Hgwy M & N in between Boulder Junction and Sayner.
Plum Lake Trail (5 miles):
This 5-mile paved bike trail runs between Sayner and Crystal Lake. Along the ride, trail users cross Plum Creek and ride along Plum Lake. The trail also intersects with the Razorback Ridges Trail, a popular mountain biking and cross-country skiing route. At the trails eastern endpoint, the trail connects trail users with the St. Germain Hike & Bike Trail.
This portion of the trail features fixtations (a bicycle repair and pump) at the Sayner Corner Store, 3109 Razorback Rd and the Sayner Mobil Station, 277 Main Street.
St. Germain Hike & Bike Trail (12 miles):
As the westernmost end of the Heart of Vilas Bike Trail, the 12-mile St. Germain Hike & Bike Trail is an excellent cap to any trail ride. Leaving off from the western endpoint in Sayner, the trail traverses south and then east into the town of St. Germain before reaching its eastern endpoint (and the easternmost endpoint of the whole Heart of Vilas Trail System) just east of the town.
This portion of the trail features a fixtation (a bicycle repair and pump) at the St. Germain Chamber of Commerce.
There are numerous parking options along this 52-mile route.
Each town along the route features a variety of parking options. The parking locations in each town along the route are as follows: Mercer (5150N US-51), Manitowish Waters (Koller Memorial Park, near 6011 County Hwy W), Boulder Junction (5358 Park St), Sayner (545 WI-155), and St. Germain (473 WI-70).
See TrailLink Map for all parking options and detailed directions.
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