Bicycle Trails in the Region
The first efforts at bicycle trails near Star Lake were in Boulder Junction. Boulder Junction probably has more miles of bike trails per capita than any place in the country. Several years ago, local people formed B.A.T.S. (Boulder Junction Area Trail System) and did a bang-up job of signing a ten-mile mountain bike loop on local snowmobile and XC trails. At the same time, the town opened a paved trail running south to the picturesque picnic area on Trout Lake. For the mountain biker, the loop through the dense forest is highlighted by small streams and lakes. A short spur runs north to Fishtrap Dam, a great place to take a break and perhaps to spot soaring bald eagles waiting to swoop down and pluck a fish. The paved trail, while following County M, rolls with the natural contour of the land and darts in and out of the forest. (Adapted from the Travel Wisconsin website, 2012).
Boulder Junction extended their efforts east along County Highway N to the Crystal Lake Campground. This trail system was so successful that it has been a model for nearby communities. Plum Lake developed a trail from the Crystal Lake Campground to and through the town of Sayner, connecting with a trail developed by St. Germain. The two connect along County Highway C, and the trail continues to Route 70 and on into St. Germain. Connections to Eagle River are being developed.
Meanwhile in Land O'Lakes a loop trail heading west from the town of Land O'Lakes and then heading north along the western edge of the Sylvania Wilderness, looping around Sylvania and coming back to Land O'Lakes is being developed.
The Great Headwaters Traiils Sysem, involving supporters from the towns of Land O'Lakes, Conover, Phelps and Eagle River, is being developed; supporters hope to connect the four towns (as well as St. Germain in order to connect to the other trails that connect to St. Germain) with a system centered on Conover. As of 2012 some trails in Conover were completed, and funding was in place to extend the trail to Phelps. In summer of 2017 I rode some of the trail from Conover to Phelps. It was open, but paved only about a half mile. The next couple of miles were ridable gravel. From there on to Phelps it was rough riding and you would need a trail bike.
From the March 13, 2018, DNR Weekly News Update: "MANITOWISH WATERS, Wis. - Visitors to the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest will be able to bike and hike an expanded trail system through the forest thanks to a donation that will add trails to the popular Heart of Vilas County Bike Trail System. The State Natural Resources Board in January approved a proposal and a donation of time and materials worth approximately $1.15 million from Manitowish Waters Bike Trail Inc. for the cost of construction of the new trail, which will add approximately 4 miles of new paved bike trails, including a bridge over the Manitowish River."
Most of these trails are nicely paved and off road, though it is common for them to follow the road corridors. The are open for bicycling and walking, but closed to motor vehicles, including snowmoviles--which could tear up the paving. As one rides along the county roads these trails follow, the site of cyclists and pedestrians using the trails is quite common.
In approximately 2016 the Adventure Cycling Association of Missoula, Montana, published a national network of bike trails. It included severl cross-country routes, one of which--the Northern Tier North Lakes Route--comes east from Mercer to Boulder Junction, Star Lake, Conover, Phelpds, and on the Nelma. As a result a number of cross-country riders are coming through Star Lake, usually stopping at the store.
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