Autumn is the perfect time to get out and ride in our County of Trails.
Since its founding in the late 1800s, Langlade County has maintained a strong equestrian connection through both professional horse racing and recreational opportunities. The racing side is celebrated in the downtown Antigo mural featuring the heyday of horse racing at Langlade County Fairgrounds. The recreation part remains in play at trails across the region.
The Crocker Hills Horse and Dog Sled Trail System is located on a mix of public and private property 18 miles east of Antigo off Fraley Road. It is approximately 15.3 miles in length and offers a variety of trails and scenic beauty. Trail facilities include a parking/primitive camping area, a hand pump for water, and a pit toilet bathroom at the trailhead. An open-air shelter and picnic tables offer additional amenities.
The trails are maintained in the warm-weather months by members of the Triple R Riding Club, which regularly hosts day and overnight outings.
“This trail is home to beautiful bluffs with overlooks of the County Forest,” Evan Damos, president of Triple R, said. “We have beautiful hardwoods to hemlock and birch tree stands. The trail also follows the Evergreen River and includes some secluded lakes.”
The Moccasin Trail
Located west of Elcho on the existing cross-country ski trail and adjoining forest roads, the Moccasin Trail is maintained by the Elcho Cross Country Ski Club and volunteers.
The trails offer a gorgeous ride through a variety of rolling terrain highlighted by two river basins: The Prairie River flowing west, and the Hunting River flowing east. The eastern leg includes an overlook of a large black spruce swamp. Riders may follow the existing ski or snowshoe trails but should be advised there are low spots in some areas, especially on the snowshoe trail, still suffering the effects of the 2019 windstorm.
Facilities include plenty of parking, restrooms, campsites with fire rings, picnic areas, and a hand pump. Access is also provided to the year-round Michelle’s Lodge, an after-ride gathering place with a gas fireplace, and plenty of room to gather and relax.
Popple Ride Trail
The Popple Ridge Horseback Riding Trail located in the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest in eastern Langlade County remains closed due to the July 19, 2019 storm damage, but plan on visiting this complex, hopefully in 2023.
The trails are located north of White Lake on Highway 55. They are divided into three loops totaling approximately 16 miles. Public parking and trail access are available along Highway 55 near the 9-Mile All Sports Resort.
Watch the County of Trails website for information on reopening.
Peters Marsh Wildlife Area
A truly hidden gem for equestrians is the Peters Marsh Wildlife Area, located off Highway A nine miles northeast of Antigo.
Covering 1,687 acres, the Department of Natural Resources-maintained property includes forests, fields, wetlands, and native grasslands. The variety of cover provides access to numerous wildlife species including waterfowl, ruffed grouse, deer, turkey, black bear, woodcock, snowshoe hare, and beaver.
“Peters Marsh has really well-marked horse trails,” Shaughn Novy of Black Hawk Hill Equestrian Center said. “It’s a very pretty ride for a day trip.”
There are six parking areas with access to more than 10 miles of grass walking trails. Motorized vehicle travel is prohibited.
With 130,000 acres of public land, the Langlade County Forest offers miles and miles of trails to enjoy, but they can be a challenge.
“We have lots of options for the adventurous,” Novy said. “But I would recommend a guide or a GPS.”
Like to ride, but don’t have a horse?
Hwy 45 Riding Stables, located 13 ½ miles north of Antigo off Highway 45, is a family-owned business that provides 45-minute trail rides. It also offers full-day, half-day, and overnight camps to children that provide a hands-on experience and teach them the basic training of how to ride and handle a horse. It is open year-round Monday through Saturday, weather permitting, with rides at 10 a.m., noon, 2, and 4 Call 715-623-686 to make a reservation. Check out Hwy 45 Riding Stables on Facebook.
Black Hawk Hill, located 3 ½ miles south of Antigo off Highway 45, uses horses to provide learning opportunities for adults, youth, and groups. There are also Ladies Nights, Date Nights, mini-camps, and other workshops, including the Northwoods Trail Challenge. Visit blackhawkhill.org.