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Welcome to Wisconsin County of Colorful Trails

September 16, 2022

Author:  
Lisa Haefs

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Langlade County’s spectacular annual light show is about to begin. Enjoy Mother Nature’s last blast--a riotous party of orange and yellow hues-- before the quiet whites and blues of wintertime descend.

Colorama is a season in the Northwoods, although the actual dates are dependent on the weather rather than the chronological calendar. The best autumn colors come when there's been a warm, wet spring; a summer that's not too hot or dry; and a fall with plenty of warm sunny days and cool nights. This year the peak is predicted to be the first week of October, although great viewing will begin within days and extend well into next month.

It never gets old to explain the phenomena.

As the Earth makes its 365-day journey around the sun, some parts of the planet get fewer hours of sunlight. Trees respond to the decreasing amount of sunlight by producing less and less chlorophyll, finally stopping altogether. When that happens, the carotenoid already in the leaves can finally show through. The leaves become a bright rainbow of glowing yellows, sparkling oranges, and warm browns.

Langlade County, home to a mix of hardwoods led by oaks, birch, poplar, and especially maple will soon be awash in color. The oaks will produce red, brown, or russet while the leaves of birch and poplar will be bright and golden yellow. Enjoy a mix of orange-red, flowing yellow, and bright scarlet leaves from the abundance of maple.

In our County of Trails, there are many ways to take in the view. Take a ride into the countryside, top down on that convertible if you’ve got one; jump on an ATV or UTV; dust off that bicycle; lace up those boots; or maybe even saddle a horse.

Here are some of our favorite options.

By automobile
Poll longtime residents of Langlade County about their favorite automobile route for Colorama and Highway 55 along the Wolf River is the clear winner.  The Department of Transportation agrees and designated the roadway as the state’s fifth scenic byway in 2017. Known as the Nicolet-Wolf River Scenic Byway, it encompasses is a 145-mile route traversing parts of Forest, Langlade, Oneida, and Vilas Counties.

The route winds through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and various communities, including Langlade, Hollister, Lily, and Pickerel. The scenery is stunning, especially where the route closely follows the Wolf River. For more details, visit nicoletwolfriverbyway.com.

Don’t discount the less-traveled roads of western Langlade County for some spectacular scenery. A favorite route winds along Highway T west of Highway 45 past Townline Lake—perhaps the prettiest spot for Colorama in the county and certainly one of the most photographed.

To enjoy the full loop, take Highway T located north of Summit Lake to the west. Wind past some lovely small lakes and stop at Townline Lake for photos. There’s a picnic table and boat launch. Continue west to Highway H and proceed south. For a short loop, turn east on Highway J and return to Highway 45. Want to go a bit father? Stay on Highway H to Highway C or Highway I. Any of those options will take you through some beautiful territory and eventually return you to Highway 45.  They are truly roads less traveled.

Try an ATV/UTV tour
Langlade County has over 106 miles of ATV/UTV trails with four main trails connected through various road routes and all offer some great Colorama viewing opportunities.
   

A favorite route for many is the rugged Parrish Highlands Trail in northwestern Langlade County This trail system has 50 miles of scenic terrain that traverses glacial moraines, upland hardwoods, cedar swamps, and small rivers and lakes. The terrain is rolling to very hilly. This trail links up with the Lincoln and Oneida County ATV trail system.

This two-way trail travels on old logging roads which are also open to other recreationalists. There are three parking/access points. They are on Highway Q, at the Oneida/Langlade County Line; Highway H, two miles south of Highway 17 and Q; and Highway T, three miles west of Highway 45, Summit Lake. The Highway T location has an ATV washing station, restrooms, and an ATV ramp.

Looking for more information? Visit our ATV/UTV section by clicking here.

Bicycles offer up-close viewing
A group of local bicyclists who affectionately call themselves The Geezers have a few suggestions for fall outings.

One favorite is the Bina Wetland area northwest of Antigo. From Antigo, take First Avenue, cross the 64 bypass then to Ackley Road to head north to Spring Road and west to Popple Road. Continue north to Bina Wetland parking area.

“If you’re lucky, you may see sandhill cranes land in large flocks called ‘constructions’ of cranes.” Geezer organizer Nick Salm said. “The fall colors and cranes this time of year are worth the trip.”

A hilly, but very scenic route is south of Antigo to Forrest Avenue, east to Highway AA or Crestwood Road and south to Highway W going east, then north, then east and back to Antigo on one of the roads going north. The route features a variety of color from now to October along with the hills.                              
          
For more information on the Geezer rides, or to receive periodic updates, email Salm at njsalm1@gmail.com.

Try a hike
Langlade County boasts 50 miles of the thousand-mile Ice Age Trail, divided into five segments: 13 miles Kettlebowl, 12 miles Lumbercamp, 9.5 miles Summit Moraine, 13.5 miles Highland Lakes and 12 miles Parrish Hills. Any one of them provides perfect opportunities for a fall hike.

“Fall is a favorite outdoor season,” Joe Jopek, Langlade County’s longtime Ice Age Trail coordinator, said. “While farmers harvest their crops, others enjoy the color panorama ranging in red, orange, yellow, maroon, and green of the trees and shrubs in early fall to the fading gold of the tamarack in mid-October. I also appreciate the comfortable, sometimes brisk, temperatures, fewer pests, and the spicy smell of the season topped with sharp blue skies. It is a pleasure to welcome annually.”

This year, make Langlade County your headquarters for the 42-mile Mammoth Hike Challenge. Walk, run, or backpack 42 miles on the Ice Age Trail during the month of October and visit three Trail Communities to earn a hiking certificate and a limited-edition patch. For details, visit iceagetrail.org/mammoth-hike-challenge.
    

For equestrians
Langlade County’s relatively bug-free autumn weather and cooler temperatures make it a perfect time for a horseback ride.

One option for equestrians is 15.3 miles of The Crocker Hills Horse and Dog Sled Trail System, located east of Antigo off Fraley Road in Elton.

“We have some beautiful bluffs with overlooks of the county forest,” Evan Damos, president of the Triple R Riding Club, which maintains the trails in spring, summer, and fall, said. “The trail offers beautiful hardwood, hemlock and birch stands, the Evergreen River, and secluded lakes.”

Facilities include a parking/primitive camping area and a pit toilet bathroom at the trailhead west of Fraley Road. There is also water accessible by a hand-pump, an open-air shelter, and several tables.

So much more
The County of Trails doesn’t slow down as the seasons change. Paddle down a secluded creek or the more rambunctious Wolf River. Jump on a motorcycle for a trip into the countryside, or enjoy a leisurely walk at Jack Lake, Gartzke Flowage, or the Moccasin Trails.

Visit our Play page for a closer look and start planning your Colorama adventure in The County of “Colorful” Trails.