Paddle undeveloped rivers to reconnect with nature. Take your kids geocaching in the Nicolet National Forest to see their excitement at finding the hidden treasure. Enjoy a beautiful day on the water fishing, swimming, waterskiing or kayaking our lakes. Every season brings another palette of color, berry to pick or game to hunt here in the Northwoods. If history is your thing, the Historical Society Museum is a must do.
Florence County is home to over 150 miles of ATV trails and routes with hundreds more connecting neighboring counties and the State of Michigan. The northern part of the Nicolet State Trail runs through the western portion of the county. This particular trail also runs through Forest and Oconto Counties. The Florence County ATV trail system winds through the open Spread Eagle Barrens State Natural Area and county, industrial and national forests. Riders will encounter trails leading to waterfalls, several scenic overlooks and parks. Florence County also has a 17 acre ATV park which is located on the south side of Fisher Lake in the Town of Florence.
Click here for Blue Ox Trail Map
Florence County Forestry and Parks Department
TRAILS ARE OPEN
Go to www.travelwisconsin.com for weekly updates on the trails, or www.fs.usda.gov/activity/cnnf/recreation/wintersports
Please make sure that your ATV/UTV is properly registered with up to date registration stickers in a visible location. The Wild Rivers Interpretive Center will have Michigan ORV stickers for sale incase you are wanting to cross over into our neighboring State of Michigan. If you have any questions, please contact us at: 715-528-5377 or 888-889-0049. Happy Trails!
Florence County's map as well as Florence County's ATV/UTV map is available within this website under the Maps and Brochure Tab or you may obtain these maps by stopping into The Wild Rivers Interpretive Center or requesting them to be sent to your address through this website.
Florence County is a literal haven for camping in Northeast Wisconsin. We are surrounded by public, private, and National Forest camping. Whether you prefer to pack it in or drive it in. Florence County's 18 public and private camping areas offer settings and amenities to suit every camper's needs, from no amenities at all in the 7,500 acre Whisker Lake Wilderness where you can pitch your tent anywhere, to a private tent, trailer, RV Park Resort with everything from water and electricity to hot showers, swimming pool, and mini golf. Indoor accomodations range from housekeeping cottages and cabins in the woods to full-service motels and waterfront Bed and Breakfast Inns.
This campground is designed for the fishing enthusiast. There are 11 campsites located in a beautiful balsam fir-red pine grove. Although located on a good highway (Hwy. 55) it is not heavily used. There is no swimming beach provided.
6 sites featuring an artesian well which flows all year road. Located on the Pine River.
Located off of County Hwy. D. Sandy bottom beach, boat launch, fishing, 18 electric sites, water hook-ups, picnic tables, grills, bathhouses, and pit toilets. A premiere camping spot for families.
5 sites, same as Perch Lake. All sites are between 3/4 to 1 1/2 mile from the parking area. No fee for camping. Open year round.
27 family camping units with tent pads, picnic tables, fire rings, vault toilets, and drinking water. Swimming beach and boat landing.
18 sites with tent pads, picnic tables, fire rings, vault toilets, and drinking water. Swimming beach and boat landing. Also features group camping area for up to 25 people-available on a reservation basis.
5 sites and a canoe launch site are 1/4 mile and 1 mile from the parking area. Each site has a tent pad, picnic table, fire ring and wilderness type toilet. There is no drinking water supply. All equipment must be carried in. No fee for camping. Open year round.
This campground is a fishing oriented campground with 6 units. All 6 units are usually occupied on weekends during the summer. A boat access with ramp, parking, and toilets is adjacent to the campground. Fishing is usually moderate to good for walleye, northern pike, and panfish. The campground lies in a mixed stand of aspen and sugar maple.
Located off of County Hwy. C. Sandy beach, boat launch, 29 rustic sites with electricity, 2 water pumps, picnic tables, grills, bathhouses and pit toilets. Another campsite enjoyed by families in Florence County.
Keyes Lake Campground located on County Hwy 101 three miles south of Florence. This campground is adjacent to Keyes Lake Park. A pristine 202 acre recreation lake. While camping in this beautiful wooded site, you will receive full service amenities including WIFI, water, sewer and electrical hook-ups. This campground boasts of an 18 Hole Mini Golf Course and ATV/Snowmobile Trails leading to all of Florence County. Call for reservations.
Camping In The Clouds This campground is adjacent to the town of Florence, yet is secluded off of US Hwy 2 on the backside of the old mining hills. Breathtaking views will await you while camping in a serene secluded area close to all amenities. Camping In The Clouds offers a full service campground with a restaurant and bar. A nd don't miss the indoor heated pool, horseshoe and volleyball courts. Primitive camping to full service hook-ups, water and sewer included. Call for reservations.
The Florence County Forestry and Parks maintain two Cross Country Ski Trails in the winter months. Those trails being the Lake Emily and Halls Creek ski trails. Where as the US Forest Service maintains the Lauterman Trail when the snow starts to fly in the Northwoods. Information regarding the condition of these trails may be obtained by calling the Wild Rivers Interpretive Center at 888-889-0049 or going on line to skinnyski.com or travelwisconsin.com. Updated information is always available when you need it. Below is a comprehensive list of the three trails that are groomed and tracked in Florence County.
This trail is groomed for both classical and skate skiing every Thursday during the northern Wisconsin snow season. The rolling terrain on the Lake Emily Cross Country Ski Trail is a medium dificulty experience. You can do a 2.5 mile loop or by adding the south loop you can ski 4 miles through county forest land near Lake Emily. Florence County Forestry and Parks maintains this trail throughout the winter season.
Directions: From Florence go south on State Hwy 101 and then travel East on County Hwy D. one half mile. The parking lot is on the South side of the road.
CLICK HERE for map!
The gentle rolling slopes traverse to steep terrain, giving this trail system a medium to high difficulty level as you trek 9 miles through the Nicolet National Forest. You will find the Lauterman Cross Country Ski Trail to be an exciting experience which in the summer is used by bicyclist who like the difficulty level with its steep terrains. The US Forest Service maintains this trail throughout the year, which includes grooming and tracking the ski trails.
Directions: From Florence take State Hwy 70 West approximately 8 miles. Turn left into the Lauterman Trail parking area.
CLICK HERE for map:
The gentle rolling terrain on the Hall's Creek Trail will allow you to travel 7 miles with a difficulty rating which is low. The Florence County Forestry and Parks keeps maps of the area at the trailhead to ensure that your experience through this forest is a safe one. If you are in need of a map to this area, please stop by The Wild Rivers Interpretive Center or obtain a map through this website by clicking on the Maps and Brochures Tab.
Directions: South on County Hwy N 7.5 mi., west on County Hwy C 2 mi., north on LaSalle Falls Road 2.5 mi. to LaSalle Falls Parking Lot on right. Trail is across the road.
CLICK HERE for map!
Cross Country Skiing Conditions are GOOD
This 18 hole par 63 course is located just west of the Florence Elementary School. The front 9 meanders through a nice wooded area - back 9 is played in open fields. Tees identified by numbered 4X4 posts. One hole is over 600 ft! Path to holes 10-18 runs along the fence that encompasses the soccer field. #10 tee is at the end of this path about 20 feet from the turn of the fence line.
Click here for more course info
This northern Wisconsin disc golf course starts to the northeast of the Keyes Peak Ski Lodge on Hwy 101. There are 18 holes that play up and down Keyes Peak Ski Hill offereing wooded areas and a spectacular view of Keyes Lake from the top of Keyes Peak. Hole #7 may have the largest vertical drop in all of Wisconsin. Holes vary in length grom 137 ft to 420 ft.
Click here for course map
Click here for more course info
Click here for general fishing tips from our DNR Fisheries Biologist, Greg Matzke
Florence County is a fisherman's haven with its 265 lakes and 165 miles of rivers and streams. Pan fish can be found in almost all lakes within the county. Lakes that contain walleye: Patten Lake, Keyes Lake, and the Spread Eagle Chain of Lakes. Muskies are caught in the Brule and Menominee River Flowages. Brook trout are best in Sand Lake located within the Spread Eagle Barrens.
If river fishing appeals to you, then the Brule, Pine and Popple Rivers are great places to catch trout. All three of these rivers have many access points and are bordered by large amounts of public land. These rivers are remote and challenging, but true wilderness experiences. The Menominee River and its flowages (Twin Falls and Kingsford) contains musky, northern pike, walleye and pan fish.
Shore fishing for the casual fisherman has plenty of options available. Fisher Lake in Florence has a beautiful ADA fishing pier at the south end of Chapin Street. Lake Emily Park has a long boat ramp at the water edge, great for casting a line on a warm summer day, or Keyes Lake Park also offers a pier for shore fishing. The abandoned Twin Falls Bridge at the Vagabond Park is an excellent option as well. If a map is what you need for your day trip of fishing, contact the Wild Rivers Interpretive Center or go to the map tab within this website for information that will get you to where the big one's are.
Ice Fishing: With 265 lakes and four major rivers, there are many places to fish. Ice fishing up north is a social activity aimed at curing cabin fever as well as catching some fish to eat. The most social form of this activity happens at ice fishing derbies. For a small entry fee, participants have the chance to win prizes while having fun with family and friends and meeting many new acquaintances.
The Roadhouse 139 Ice Fishing Derby on Long Lake is February 4th this year. Long Lake is known for nice northern pike and pan fish. Leff’s Sports Bar is hosting their 6th Annual Ice Fishing Derby on February 11. This derby allows fishermen to fish on Lake Emily or Keyes Lake. The Homestead and Aurora Conservation Club sponsor the Pete “Toad” Church Memorial Ice Fishing Derby generally in January, but depending on ice conditions, it has been postponed some years. Check ExploreFlorenceCounty.com events tab for the latest information. This event is held on the Pine River Flowage known as an excellent small mouth bass fishery.
Tip up fishing for northern pike is a relaxing family activity. Northern Pike feed actively throughout the daylight hours, so you don’t have to brave the dark and cold. And once you get your tip-ups set, you can sit back and watch your tip-ups or throw a football or play a game of badminton or snow-golf on the ice. The best lakes in Florence County to catch northern pike through the ice are; Patten Lake, Twin Falls Flowage, Fay Lake, Seidel Lake and Sea Lion Lake. If you are looking for a trophy pike, give Lake Ellwood or the Brule River Flowage a try. There aren’t as many fish per acre in these two lakes, but the fish there are monsters.
If you are looking to jig for pan fish, the better waters are the Spread Eagle Chain of Lakes, Sea Lion Lake, Twin Falls Flowage and Halsey Lake. Or if you prefer walleye, Lake Emily, Patten Lake and the Brule River Flowage are the hot spots through the ice. So call ahead to make sure the ice is thick enough and then pack up your ice fishing gear, shanty or bucket and come join the fun.
- Spread Eagle Chain of Lakes 2018
- Twin Falls Flowage 2016
- Brule River Flowage 2016
- Keyes Lake 2016
- Patten Lake 2016
|STREAMS||ACCESS||MILES||BROOK TROUT||BROWN TROUT|
|Little Popple Creek||X||17.3||X||X|
USGS Real-Time Water Data for Wisconsin
|Bass Lake West||57||19||X||X||X|
|Brule River Flowage||297||64||X||X||X||X||X||X|
|Lake of Dreams||68||12||X||X||X||X|
|Pine River |
|Riley Lake So.||52||36||X||X||X||X|
|Sea Lion |
|Spread Eagle Chain||487||68||X||X||X||X||X|
|Menominee River||H-A Conservation Club|
|Pine River Flowage Site 24||Wisconsin Electric|
|Pine River Flowage Site 34||Wisconsin Electric|
|Fern||Sea Lion Lake||County|
|Pine River Site 5||Wisconsin Electric|
|Brule River Site 28||Wisconsin Electric|
|Twin Falls Flowage||County|
|West Bass Lake||County|
|Long Lake||Fay Lake||Town|
|Tipler||Lake of Dreams||County|
Florence County maintains more than 27 miles of hiking trails throughout a variety of habitats, ranging in length and difficulty, including a mile long path through a variety of woodland vegetation and diverse topography to the banks of the Pine River for a view of majestic LaSalle Falls. The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest features a number of trails through six distinctly different areas of the forest including the Whisker Lake Trail, a network of old logging roads and railroad beds popular with adventurers who like to explore and use their compasses, and the Lauterman National Recreation Trail, a nine-mile hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing trail with several routes of various levels of difficulty.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Florence County Courthouse and Jail were constructed in 1889. The picturesque buildings, with red tile roofs, crenelated towers and elongated arched windows, stand as solid reminders of the County's affluent lumbering and mining era. The courthouse was recently renovated while preserving the historical character of the building itself. This beautiful brick showplace and heart of our county is located within the town of Florence, one block south of US Hwy 2 at 501 Lake Street. In close proximity are several historic and restored properties that are currently being used by various small businesses on the main street of Florence. One of these properties is the Florence Museum, which houses pictures and artifacts telling the story of our quaint town we proudly call Florence.
Florence County Forestry and Parks in cooperation with the Northern Saddle Club maintain two trails for equestrian riding. Within Florence County is the Bush Lake Flats Trail. This marked trail is approximately 11 miles long, but the entire forest is open to riding. From the trailhead, the trail is a single track path through hardwoods. After traveling briefly along Tower Road, the trail turns off again and climbs gentle hills to open prairie. Many smaller trails break off the marked trail. The trail surface is grass or sandy soil. For the most part, the trail system is easy to ride, with no challenging areas. The Hall's Creek Trail is 10 miles of marked scenic trails, which travel through a mixture of hardwoods and open fields. The marked trail is in the shape of a figure-eight, with trails extending off of both loops. Again, the entire county forest is open to riding. It would be advantageous to pick up a map of these riding areas, and have a compass or GPS in your posession. Trail maps are available at the Wild Rivers Interpretive Center, or within this website www.northernsaddleclub.org
Florence County is Northeastern Wisconsin's hunting paradise. With 1000's of acres of public land available to hunters, you will have no problem finding small or large game to fill a hunting tag. The Wild Rivers Interpretive Center is your one stop location for permits and maps to all of Florence County's Federal, State and County public hunting lands.
|Bush Lake Flats||Flat/Rolling||11|
|Lamon Tangue||Gentle Roll |
Rough Grouse Area
|Halls Creek||Gentle Roll||10|
|Grandma's Beaver Pond||Gentle Roll||2|
Florence County Forest Ruffed Grouse Habitiat Map 2012
DNR Fields & Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool
PINE RIVER The upper portion of the Pine River alternates between deep and slow meanders, rapids and falls. Most of the rapids are rated Class I-III. Below the Pine River Dam and the Pine River Falls, the river offers relaxed paddling with a handful of riffles. A popular trip is the Oxbow, where the Pine River crosses County Hwy. N. When you get off the river, a 1/4 mile walk gets you back to your car, so no shuttle is needed for this 3.5 mile tubing or paddling trip. Another easy paddle trip is from the Pine River dam to the base of LaSalle Falls rapids gorge and then a short hike to the falls.
POPPLE RIVER In the 20 miles of the Popple River located in Florence County, there are four named falls and 4 named rapids. The portion of the river between Morgan Lake Road and Hwy 101 is only recommended for experts during the spring of the year.
Click on these links for very detailed paddling descriptions of sections of the Popple River by local paddling expert John Roberts:
A) MacArthur Pine Rd to Newald Tower Rd. (21.2 miles)
B) Newald Tower Rd to Morgan Lake Rd (4.7 miles)
C) Morgan Lake Rd to Hwy 101 (5.4 miles)
D) Hwy 101 to Pine River (6.4 miles)
BRULE RIVER Creating part of the northern border between Wisconsin and Michigan, the Brule Riuver runs for 45 miles. This is the best summer river to paddle due to more consistent flow than other rivers. Very few rapids also make this a good river for novice paddlers.
For a complete paddling guide, contact the Wild Rivers Interpretive Center.
The Keyes Peak Ski Hill is OPEN and provides downhill skiing, snow tubing, snowshoeing and cross country skiing opportunities. However, this recreational area is not only renowned for its winter recreation. It also provides panoramic viewing ffom the area's highest peak in Florence County. It is spectacular in the fall, but definitely breathtakingly beautiful any time of the year. Keyes Peak is located on County Hwy 101 approximately 3 miles south of Florence.
In the spring, summer and fall months the beautiful Keyes Peak Ski Lodge is available for rent to the public. This facility is a wonderful venue for such occassions as weddings, family reunions and graduation parties. With its kitchen facilities, it has become a popular attraction for large parties, with its Northwoods appeal as a rustic log lodge. Click here for lodge rental info.
The Keyes Peak Recreation Area is county owned and operated. For more information contact Florence County Forestry and Parks at 715-528-3207. The hill phone number is 715-528-3228.
Hours of Operation:
Child $ 8.00 (12 and under)
Nite Skiing Special:
Student $ 8.00
Child $ 6.00
Hill Rental (HILL PARTY) $ 75.00 per hour
Includes tubes or ski rentals and lift tickets (Maximum 75 people)
Boots, Skis and Poles $10.00
Boots or Skis $ 5.00
Poles $ 2.00
Tubes (4 hours) $ 5.00
Snowboard Boots $ 7.00
*Rental equipment can only be used with the purchase of a lift ticket.
Daily Rentals do not include the price of a lift ticket.
Keyes Lake Campground located 3 miles south of Florence has your mini-golf needs covered. Enjoy a well layed out course with lighting for evening golf enthusiasts. This course is open from spring until fall. A great family enjoyment for all.
Located in northern Wisconsin, where towering pine and hardwood forests are interspersed with hundreds of crystal clear lakes and streams, the Nicolet National Forest offers you a wealth of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Within a day's drive of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Minneapolis metropolitan areas, the Nicolet is a place where you can truly "get away from it all" in the scenic beauty of the northwoods. Four seasons of recreation await you... from spring fishing or canoeing to summer camping, hiking, mountain or horse back riding. Come in autumn for hunting or to see our famous fall color. For your driving pleasure there are 3,600 miles of back roads. Please drive slowly. Snow season gears up with cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Or come anytime to get close to nature in a tranquil and secluded spot. Opportunities for exhilarating views, relaxation, and quiet nature study abound. Experience all the beauty and recreational opportunities of Wisconsin's National Forests.
The Nicolet National Forest is divided into four districts: Eagle River, Florence, Laona and Lakewood. Each District offers "developed" campgrounds that provide campsites with a fire ring, picnic table, tent or trailer pad and parking. Drinking water, toilets and trash pickup are alos provided. Electrical hook-up facilities and showers are not provided. All campgrounds have have some sites that can accomodate RV's up to about 30 feet long. The main camping season is Memorial Day through Labor Day. Many activities and special events occur during this season in towns and recreation areas that are located within or near the Nicolet.
Pitch a tent or park a camper for a modest fee in one of the developed campgrounds in the Nicolet or Chequamegon Forests. All of the Nicolet campgrounds are located on lakes or streams and have drinking water, vault toilets, picnic tables and grills or fire rings. The National Forest Service is continually working to improve their campground qualities and services, including providing more barrier-free opportnities for people with disabilities. Please call for current information. Four of the favorite camping sites are Perch Lake, Lost Lake, Morgan Lake and Chipmunk Rapids.
Detailed maps of the Forests(1/2" per mile) and topographic quadrangle maps are available from the Wild Rivers Interpretive Center. Forest Roads are marked with numbers. Look for small brown and white signs identifying these routes throughtout the Forest.
FLORENCE DISTRICT OFFICE
Florence Wild Rivers Interpretive Center
State Hwy 70 and US 2
Florence, WI 54121
The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest covers approximately 83,000 acres in Florence County. This unique National Forest offers many recreational opportunities to the local community as well as visitors alike. Hiking, camping, biking, hunting, ATV/snowmobiling as well as berry picking and bird watching. There are dedicated trails for bird hunting, and horseback riding.
The Whisker Lake Wilderness is located in the northeastern part of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Florence County. The terrain in this wilderness is densely wooded with hiking trails for exploration. Those who visit are seeking solitude and a true communion with nature. For all information including special regulations and restrictions regarding this area, contact the Forest Service at the Florence Natural Resource and Wild Rivers Interpretive Center in Florence.
Lake Emily Park This facility has 18 sites on a quiet lake. Sites are $15.00 per day. There is a boat launch, pit toilets, water pumps, sandy beach, fishing and bathhouse. Each site has a picnic table, and a fire grate, all sites have electric hook-ups. Sites are available on a first come first serve basis.The Lake Emily Park Campground is located in the Town of Commonwealth. From US 2 in Florence turn South on County Hwy. N, go about three miles to County Hwy D, turn right (West) on County Hwy C, continue two miles to the campground and park.
West Bass Lake Park This facility has 29 sites on a pristine and quiet lake. Sites are $15.00 per day. There is a boat launch, pit toilets, water pumps, sandy beach and bathhouse. Each site has a picnic table and a fire grate and electricity. Sites are available on a first come first serve basis. The West Bass Lake Park Campground is located in the Town of Homestead. From Florence take Highway 101 South to County Hwy. C, watch for signage to the campground, about five miles from Hwy 101 turn left (North) on Fire Lane Road, continue one mile to the campground.
Fisher Lake Park This park is located on a 54 acre lake which is stocked with northern pike, bass, pan fish and trout. Visitors can picnic, play baseball, launch a boat or relax on the sandy beach. Picnic tables, picnic shelter, outhouses, and a baseball diamond occupy this quaint park. From Florence go South on County Hwy. N. This park is located in the Town of Florence.
Kenneth Thompson Memorial Park This park serves as a habitat for loons and osprey. Visitors can launch a boat to fish the 55 acre Siedel Lake for northern pike, bass and pan fish. Take Hwy. 101 South from Florence to the lake access road on the north side of the highway, near where the Siedel Creek crosses the road. Picnic tables and a boat landing are available on this very private setting.
Keyes Lake Park Keyes Lake's crystal clear waters make a good swimming and fishing lake. Try your luck at fishing for northern pike, walleye, panfish, white fish, brown trout and bass. The park has picnic facilities, a sandy beach and a boat landing. A water slide and swimmers raft adorn the swimming area. Picnic tables, picnic shelters, outhouses, swimming beach, dressing rooms, volleyball court and boat launch with dock is what you will experience when visiting this spring fed crystal clear lake.
Loon Lake Park Walk in access to a 53 acre Loon Lake where anglers will find northern pike, largemouth bass and pan fish. Take Hwy. 101 South of Hwy. 70. The park is located on the west side of the highway.
Popple River Park This park is undeveloped, scenic,designated Wild River, good for canoeing and kayaking. The park offers canoe and kayak access, picnic tables and a spot to fish for brook, brown and rainbow trout. Proceed 12 miles South of Florence on Hwy 101. Picnic tables and canoe access available.
Vagabond Park Located on 928 acre Twin Falls Flowage. Vagabond Park has a sandy beach, picnic area and a boat landing. The flowage is scenic and semi-private with islands and very few dwellings. Anglers will find northern pike, walleye, bass and panfish. Take Hwy. US 2 nine miles east of Florence. Picnic tables are available as well as a beautiful swimming beach.
Click here to access the WI-DNR public lands mapping system.
The most popular tubing trip is on the Pine River Oxbow, but trips on the Brule River are as enjoyable as well. The popularity of the Oxbow is due to its circular nature in which the river literally bring you back to your point of origin, thus enabling the group not to need a pickup vehicle at your exit point. When tubing the Brule River you can put in at the Brule Damn Road and take out at Woods Road. For a shorter trip, put in or take out on Camels Clearing Road. Tubes are available for rent locally. Maps are available at the Wild Rivers Interpretive Center.
Location: Florence County. Between WIS 139 and WIS 101 in the town of Fence.
Length: 32.5 miles
Located within the scenic Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, R-74. It is a peaceful, scenic route among beautiful hardwood forests. R-74 passes the former Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp Newald which operated from 1933–1942. This route crosses the Popple River, a state designated Wisconsin “Wild River” - meaning undeveloped. Several fishing and paddling access points to the Popple River are signed. It is also near Morgan Lake Campground, a National Forest semi-wild campground. Sighting a secretive bear, fisher, eagle or many other wildlife species is very possible. Autumn colors explode with brilliance and are always magnificent. Watch the "Rustic Road" signs for directions. For a map of Rustic Road #74 Click Here.
The 2019-2020 Snowmobile Season has officially begun. All Trails are OPEN. Questions or concerns may be directed to the Florence County Forestry and Parks Department (715) 528-3207 x106 or by calling 888-889-0049 or messaging us on Facebook.
The BLUE OX Snowmobile and ATV/UTV trails in Florence County are maintained by the Florence County Blue Ox Trail Riders (P.O. Box 414, Florence, WI 54121). A map of these trails is available from the club or from the Wild Rivers Interpretive Center. 1-888-889-0049 or Click here to view Blue Ox 2019 Trail Map
A vast network of nearly 500 miles of signed, groomed trails, and hundreds of miles of unplowed National Forest roads, are available to the public free of charge. Trails are maintained by local snowmobile clubs in cooperation with counties and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The Florence Ranger District, in cooperation with private clubs, state and county agencies, provides many miles of trails for snowmobile use. They may be old logging roads, abandoned railroad grades or logging trails made by the Forest Service or others for other purposes. These trails wind through hardwood forests, pine plantations and frozen wetlands.
Snowmobiles are subject to the following restrictions in the Nicolet National Forest:
Snowmobiles may be used only on unplowed forest roads with a minimum of 4 inches of snow and on designated snowmobile trails and then only after there is four inches of non compacted snow on the ground. Snowmobiles are prohibited on roads and trails signed as closed, gated bermed or rocked off. Cross country snowmobile travel is prohibited. All motor vehicles are prohibited in the Whisker Lake Wilderness, the Perch Lake and Lauterman Lake areas.
Travel southeast of Florence and here lies the 8500 acre Spread Eagle Barrens State Natural Area. Its name comes from an 1896 surveyors plat map showing the nearby largest expanse of lakes shaped like a soaring eagle. The Spread Eagle Barrens is the largest expanse of pine barrens and bracken grasslands that remain in Northeastern Wisconsin. This unique State Natural Area is rich with plant and animal life. The vast mosaic of six natural communities offers visitors a variety of activities including hiking, skiing, hunting, fishing, and berry picking. In the 1990's, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Florence County, Wisconsin Electric, and the Sand County Foundation began working together to secure lands to be included in the Spread Eagle Barrens State Natural Area. With more than 8000 acres managed, it has remained one of the largest State Natural Areas in Wisconsin. Current management and restoration practices include prescribed burning, invasive species control and restoration timber sales.
The most noticeable topographic feature of the Spread Eagle Barrens is the kettles. Ecologists call these depressions "frost pockets." Every night, cool dense air flows down into the frost pockets from the surrounding area. Frost can form in the lower parts of these giant potholes even when it is warm outside the pockets. Sometimes fog forms in their depths and looks like clouds from the rim of the frost pocket. In fact, frost has been recorded in these pockets in all 12 months of the year!
Foot traffic is welcomed throughout the barrens (even beyond gates and rocks), however, there are no official hiking trails. A map is available to show the many logging roads, burn breaks, and town roads that can be explored
Florence County has sandy swiming beaches at Lake Emily Park, West Bass Lake Park, Fisher Lake Park, Keyes Lake Park, Vagabond Park, Morgan Lake and Lost Lake. See the Parks or Camping sections for more information and directions to these beaches. Fisher Lake and Keyes Lake offer swimming rafts and slippery slides as well.
The question is when you get to Florence County, which trail would you like to adventure out on? Our trail systems are for visitors to explore by foot, hoof, ski or bike. Most of the trails within the National Forest connect to provide a full day of exploring. The County Forest trails are mowed in the fall for hunting season, but it is easy to walk through during the spring and summer. Tha Assessor's Trail in the National Forest is a short Interpretive Trail that is nice for families looking for a trail that is short and easy. Maps are available for all trails at the Wild Rivers Interpretive Center or here within this website. Just click on the Maps and Brochures Tab.
This award winning group of performers usually take to their stage on the Menominee River located at the banks of the Vagabond Park located in Spread Eagle. Their performances happen twice weekly, on Wednesday and Sunday evenings starting at 6:00pm. The layout of the park enable all visitors to have the best seat in the house. Concessions are available on site, you only need to bring your own lawnchair. Music fills the air as the Ski-Ters take to the waters, in what is a spectacular showing in an outdoor venue that rivals none. There are special showings throughout the summer months, and these will be posted on the events page.
Deep in the forest, the waters of Florence County's Wild Rivers cascade, tumble and roar down seven breathtaking waterfalls. LaSalle (Latitude 45.831013, Longitude -88.290010) Meyers (Latitude 45.899845, Longitude -88.436188) and Bull Falls (Latitude 45.898143, Longitude -88.409908) on the Pine River and Washburn (Latitude 45.811271, Longitude -88.365233), Little Bull (Latitude 45.766048, Longitude -88.457523) Big Bull (Latitude 45.797016, Longitude -88.408597) and Jennings Falls (Latitude 45.836911, Longitude -88.363904) on the Popple River. All but one of the falls are accessible by land. Trails to the falls range from 1/4 mile to a little more than one mile. Trails to the falls are generally hilly and unimproved and require more than normal physical effort. Little Bull Falls, which lies entirely within private property, can only be viewed from a canoe or kayak. Canoers and Kayakers may put in at the Morgan Road/Popple River crossing. Little Bull Falls in one half mile downstream from the crossing and is surrounded by rapids both up and downstream.
The following are the named rapids within Florence County. Chipmunk Rapids is along Chipmunk Rapids Road, but the rest of the rapids require a hike to access. All maps and travel information for Florence County Waterfalls is available at the Wild Rivers Interpretive Center or on this website.
Big Murphy Rapids
Nine Day Rapids
Burnt Dam Rapids
Snake Tail Rapids
In 1978 Congress and President Carter officially declared 7,500 acres of the former Nicolet National Forest a federally designated wilderness. Whisker Lake Wilderness, the second largest national forest wilderness area in the state, is located in northern Florence County. The name is derived from the majestic pines near the shoreline of Whisker Lake. Timber cruisers from days gone by dubbed these pine "chin whiskers". These "chin whiskers" miraculously escaped the wildfires that ravaged the area after logging in the early 1900's.
The terrain is densely wooded with hiking trails for exploration. Those who visit are seeking solitude and a true communion with nature. Numerous activities are available within the wilderness area. Hiking, hunting, fishing, skiing, berry picking, and nature study can be enjoyed. Motorized use, including bicycles, is prohibited. Please be prepared when entering the wilderness by using a map and a compass. Primitive camping reigns here. There are no amenities, however you may pitch a tent wherever you like.
If you would like a vacation from civilization, Whisker Lake Wilderness is located off of STH 70 approximately 11 miles west of Florence. Access to the area is provided by Forest Road 2150, which heads north off of STH 70. The Forest Service asks that you fill out a destination card at the trailhead before embarking on any trip, whether a day hike or a camping adventure. They also request that you utilize "leave no trace" practices.
For additional information including special regulations and restrictions, contact the Forest Service at the Florence Natural Resource and Wild Rivers Interpretive Center in Florence.
Click here to jump to the Wild Rivers Tour page for more info including water flow and level gauge links.
The Pine and Popple Rivers offer a true wild experience, being among Wisconsin's more remote river systems. The area is rugged and undeveloped. Access is limited and often difficult. The shorelines are very heavily wooded. The entire 89 mile length of the Pine River and 62 miles of it's major tributary, the Popple River, were designated by the Wisconsin legislature as State Wild Rivers in 1965 to be protected from development and kept in natural, free-flowing condition. Canoeing or Kayaking these rivers proves to be a beautiful and quite solitude adventure. The Pine and Popple Rivers offer trips of all lenghts, from a short two hour trip around a loop called the "Oxbow" to a full day adventure. River trips also offer an array of challenges from relaxing quiet water floats on the lower Pine to expert level whitewater runs on the Popple.
PINE RIVER The Pine River has two different personalities. The playful upper river, above LaSalle Falls, alternates between deep, slower meandering sections and rapids or falls. The lower river, the last ten miles downstream of the Pine River Flowage, offers relaxed paddling with a steady current and only a few gentle riffles.
POPPLE RIVER Canoeing on the Popple River is more challenging than on the Pine due to frequent low water conditions and the portages around its four waterfalls. The lower section of the Popple River (downstream of Morgan Lake Road) is the most difficult whitewater on the watershed, and it is recommended only for experts with suitable equipment and skills.