Top Birdwatching Destinations in Northwest Wisconsin 

Bird is the Word at these Top Spots

Northwest Wisconsin has many birdwatching opportunities for enthusiasts and hobbyists to come from near and far to spot their favorite feathered delight. The best part is that no matter which place you choose to bust out your binoculars, you’ll be treated to the spectacular sights and sounds of our memorable area. 

Bayfield County

Thompson’s West End Park in Washburn is a great area for spotting waterfowl, gulls, terns and shorebirds during spring migration. A walking trail parallels the shoreline and is a good place to birdwatch warblers and other brush-loving birds. A spotting scope isn’t necessary but can be helpful.

Bark Bay Slough is between Cornucopia and Herbster on the south shore of Lake Superior. The floating sedge bog hosts a variety of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. Nearby forests and wetlands teem with warblers, sparrows, woodpeckers and thrushes during spring migration. American Bitterns, Common Loons, Virginia and Sora Rails, Marsh and Sedge Wrens, Eastern Bluebirds and Sandhill Cranes often nest near the slough. A boat launch offers canoe access to the slough.

Forest Lodge Nature Trail offers a variety of loops that provide excellent, leisurely hiking trails and spring birding opportunities. Enjoy various habitats along the trail that host numerous birds, such as Black-throated Blue Warblers, thrushes, sparrows, vireos and bluebirds. During late spring, be sure to walk the boardwalk out into the bog to see pink lady’s slippers in bloom. This trail is located 10 miles east of Cable, WI.

Dam Road, 7 miles east of Cable, WI, offers an osprey viewing platform and a Great Blue Heron nesting colony. Follow along a few miles to the head of the Namakagon River. In the open lake and wetland area, many species of waterfowl and shorebirds can be sighted. In addition, warblers, orioles, vireos and thrushes can be seen along the shoreline in the trees.

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is an important rest stop and nesting area for more than 250 species of birds on the 21 different islands. Some smaller islands offer critical habitats for colonial nesting birds like Double-crested Cormorants, Herring Gulls and Great Blue Herons. Outer and Long Islands host significant migrations of shorebirds, raptors and songbirds. Stockton Island offers a diversity of habitats that attract many nesting and migratory species, including Merlins, American Redstarts, Red-winged Blackbirds, Parula Warblers, White-throated Sparrows, Red-breasted Mergansers and Common Loons.

Polk County

Polk County is full of outdoor trails full of opportunities to discover nature. The following trails
are popular for birdwatchers, hikers and nature enthusiasts alike: 

DD Kennedy County Park

A 106-acre preserve along the Balsam Branch flows through the center part of Polk County. A prairie
restoration area features native grasses and wildflowers. The park has a dam, millpond and well-
maintained trails. It provides a variety of habitats for a wide mix of bird types. 

Ice Age National Scenic Trail

The St. Croix River valley that hikers use on this segment was formed when the glacial lobe in the area
retreated. Access to the Ice Age Nation Scenic Trails’ western terminus is via Interstate State Park’s
Pothole trail. The wooded areas are homes to many birds and popular birding sites.

York Park
A 40-acre park of urban, mixed hardwood forest on a hilly site, boggy wetland and ¼ mile undeveloped
lakeshore in Amery, Wisconsin.  This park is part of the Great Wisconsin Birding and Nature Trail. Birding enthusiasts have been known to spot Golden-winger, Northern Parula, Magnolia, Blackburnian and Mourning Warblers, Evening Grosbeaks, Rey-eye and Blue Headed Vireos, and Brown Creepers in the forest. On the lake, there are Common Loons, Bald Eagles, Osprey and a variety of ducks and herons.

Iron County

Iron County has plenty of beautiful hiking trails for you to enjoy. From the sounds of nature to the amazing wildlife, you will see it all!

The Big Island Trail is located in Mercer, Wisconsin, near Popko Circle West. Enjoy the bridge over the Turtle Flambeau Flowage and a nice hike to see all the different wildlife. 

The Gile Flowage is a 3,384-acre flowage located in Iron County near Hurley.  This flowage is a popular recreational destination for birdwatching, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Loons, Bald Eagles and Waterfowl can be found in the flowage where they nest, feed and rest.

If your mode of transportation is an ATV or UTV, be sure to add these scenic stops to your birdwatching adventure! They may not actually fly, but they sure are a sight to see. Claire d’ Loon is a must-stop location when riding on the ATV/UTV Trail. She is 16 feet tall and weighs 2000 pounds. She is right off of trail 17 and she loves to take pictures with everyone who stops to see her. 

The Boeing B-47E Stratojet is definitely a historic sight to see in Iron County. The
Stratojet crashed in 1961 and is now one of the most significant historical sights to see in Iron County. Contact the Hurley Chamber of Commerce to find out its location. 

Washburn County

Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary, a 600-acre nature preserve with 7 miles of beautiful trails through a variety of terrain, from prairie to hardwoods and even a path right through the bog. This nature preserve boasts plenty of wonderful opportunities to view birds in their natural habitats.

Take a stroll along the Namekagon River: Wisconsin’s Moving National Park for scenic views and wildlife all along the way. The Trego Lake Trails offer a variety of loops ideal for any length of hike. Loops range from 1.2 miles, with the largest loop being 3.5 miles.

The Beaver Brook Wildlife Trail is a great place to see amazing backcountry wildlife and scenery. Hikers can explore this nearly 2,000-acre property and take in the great Northwoods of this State Wildlife Area. With numerous wetlands and a wide variety of red oak, aspen, tamarack, pines and other trees, this wildlife trail makes birdwatching a breeze. 

Ashland County

Hike through beautiful northern hardwood forest to the lush, scenic cascades of Morgan Falls. Watch for Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Mourning, and other warblers, as well as vireos, thrushes, flycatchers, and other forest species. If time allows, continue farther on the trail toward St. Peter’s Dome, yielding a 4-mile round trip hike. Also, expect a diverse plant community, including wildflowers such as Spring Beauty, Wild Ginger, Bloodroot, Dutchman’s Breechesand more.