Northwest Wisconsin is a region of stunning natural beauty, with its abundant forests, sparkling lakes, and rolling hills – full of hidden gems that are definitely worth paying a visit. Visitors to this area are treated to a diverse array of landscapes, from the majestic cliffs and waterfalls of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to the serene, wooded shores of Lake Superior. Inland, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest beckons miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through pristine woodlands, while the colorful wildflowers and wildlife of the Namekagon River Valley provide a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. From the vibrant autumn foliage to the crisp, snowy winters, the natural beauty of Northwest Wisconsin is a sight to behold in every season. Read on to learn more about some of the lesser-known natural (and less than natural) hidden gems in Northwest Wisconsin.
BAYFIELD COUNTY – THE EAU CLAIRE CHAIN OF LAKES
The Eau Claire Chain of lakes is a series of spring-fed, crystal-clear lakes located in the heart of Northwest Wisconsin, offering visitors a pristine and picturesque destination for outdoor recreation. The chain consists of eleven interconnected lakes, including Altoona Lake, Middle Eau Claire Lake and Lower Eau Claire Lake. Built in the late 1930s by the Federal Government and Bayfield County, these are among the few hand-operated locks left in the United States. The crystal-clear waters of the Eau Claire Chain are perfect for swimming, boating, and fishing, with anglers casting their lines for trophy-sized muskies, walleyes, bass and panfish. The surrounding forests provide a stunning backdrop for hiking, biking, and bird-watching, and the area is home to an abundance of wildlife, including deer, bears, and bald eagles. Take a scenic boat trip to experience nature at its finest. Whether you are looking to unwind on a quiet beach or embark on an adrenaline-pumping adventure, the Eau Claire Chain is an idyllic destination that offers something for everyone.
BARRON COUNTY – THE PIPESTONE QUARRY MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL SYSTEM
The Pipestone Quarry mountain bike trail system, located in the breathtaking Blue Hills of Wisconsin, is a premier destination for mountain biking enthusiasts. This trail system is newer and still being developed with improvements made regularly. You’ll find a variety of challenging single-track trails that wind through dense forests, open meadows, and rocky outcroppings, offering riders stunning views of the surrounding hills and valleys. With over 20 miles of trails ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced, the Pipestone Quarry system offers something for riders of all levels. The trails are well-maintained and marked, making it easy to navigate and explore. In addition to mountain biking, visitors can also hike or run on the trails or simply take in the beauty of the Blue Hills. With its stunning scenery, challenging terrain, and well-maintained trails, the Pipestone Quarry mountain bike trail system is a must-visit hidden gem destination for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty of Wisconsin. Helmets are recommended. There are no fees to use the system.
ASHLAND COUNTY – MORGAN FALLS & ST. PETER’S DOME
Morgan Falls and St. Peter’s Dome are two natural wonders in Ashland County, Wisconsin, offering visitors breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Morgan Falls is a 70-foot waterfall that cascades down a steep rock face, surrounded by lush forests and rocky cliffs. The falls are accessible via a short hike through the woods and are a popular spot for picnicking and photography. St. Peter’s Dome, located nearby, is a towering rock formation that rises 1,550 feet above sea level and offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The dome is accessible via a moderate hike that takes visitors through hardwood forests and up rocky outcroppings. The views from the top are truly spectacular, making it a popular spot for hikers, photographers, and nature lovers alike. Together, Morgan Falls and St. Peter’s Dome offer visitors a unique and unforgettable glimpse into the natural beauty of Wisconsin’s Northwoods.
WASHBURN COUNTY – THE SAWMILL LAKE PRIMITIVE CANOE ROUTE AND NAMEKAGON’S BOAT-IN SITES
The Sawmill Lake Primitive Canoe Route and the Namekagon River Boat-In Campsites in Washburn County, Wisconsin offer visitors a unique and peaceful way to explore the natural beauty of the area. The Sawmill Lake route is a challenging but rewarding adventure that winds through dense forests and over crystal-clear waters, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The Namekagon River Boat-In Campsites, located along the banks of the river, provide a tranquil retreat for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. While the Namekagon River: Wisconsin’s Moving National Park may not be as hidden as others, this river offers beautiful primitive, boat-in campsites. While most visitors take in the views while floating down the river, there are nearly 30 sites located along the stretch of the Namekagon that flows through the heart of Washburn County. The sites require no reservations or payment to use. Simply load up your canoe or kayak and paddle to a site. The campsites are accessible only by boat and offer visitors a chance to connect with nature in a quiet and secluded setting. With its pristine waters, serene forests, and abundant wildlife, the Sawmill Lake Primitive Canoe Route and the Namekagon River Boat-In Campsites are must-visit destinations for anyone looking to experience the beauty of Wisconsin’s Northwoods.
SAWYER COUNTY – UNIQUE WINERIES AND BREWERIES
Sawyer County, Wisconsin is home to a variety of wineries and breweries that offer visitors a taste of the local flavors and a chance to relax in a beautiful setting. For beer enthusiasts, the Angry Minnow Brewery in Hayward serves up a range of craft beers, from pale ales to stouts, alongside delicious pub-style fare – Be sure to try a pint of River Pig Pale Ale! The Whistle Punk is another popular spot for locally brewed beer, featuring a rotating selection of seasonal and specialty brews. For wine lovers, Some other great options are the Out of the Woods Winery and 3 Fly Sisters Taps & Wines on Hayward’s Historic Main Street or Tamarack Farms Winery on Hwy B. With its scenic countryside, abundant natural beauty, and vibrant local culture, Sawyer County is the perfect destination for foodies and beverage enthusiasts looking to savor the flavors of Wisconsin’s Northwoods.
Northwest Wisconsin is home to an abundance of natural hidden gems that offer visitors a chance to connect with nature and experience the beauty of the Northwoods. From the pristine waters of the Eau Claire Chain to the rugged beauty of the Blue Hills and the stunning views from Morgan Falls and St. Peter’s Dome, there are endless opportunities for hiking, biking, paddling, and exploring. And for those looking to savor the flavors of the region, the local wineries and breweries offer a taste of the local culture in a beautiful setting. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie, or simply seeking a quiet retreat in nature, Northwest Wisconsin has something to offer everyone.