Discover Superior-Douglas County
Published: Monday, March 12, 2018
Superior and Douglas County, located in the northwestern corner of Wisconsin, is an area that is full of opportunities for outdoor recreation. With hundreds of miles of ATV and snowmobile trails, thousands of acres of pristine forests, rivers, and waterfalls, and the beautiful Lake Superior, an adventure awaits!
Take your pick from a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities including: canoeing and kayaking; biking; multiple year-round trails; birding; disc golf; fishing (and charter fishing trips); hiking; hunting; golfing; geocaching; swimming; downhill and cross country skiing; snowshoeing; camping; or a picnic on the sandy beaches of Wisconsin Point. There is plenty to see and do without having to go far.
This area offers countless outdoor experiences with the Douglas County Forest (278,000 acres), the largest in Wisconsin. Coupled with an additional 54,400 acres – including the Superior Municipal Forest (4,400 acres), Brule River State Forest, and Pattison and Amnicon Falls State Parks – visitors and residents can explore and play in 330,000+ acres of forests, rivers, lakes, and streams. With more than 30 beautiful city and county parks and recreation areas, there are ample opportunities to explore and enjoy the outdoors.
When it comes to lakes, fewer freshwater lakes are as beautiful and moving as Lake Superior. As one of Douglas County’s finest features, Lake Superior is a source of economic vitality, recreation, and home to a wide variety of wildlife.
The greatest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior is the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area. Lake Superior is so vast that it contains 10 percent of all the Earth’s fresh surface water and as much water as all other Great Lakes combined.
However, Lake Superior is much more than a whole lot of water – it is a place to enjoy the outdoors. Enjoy swimming, boating, kayaking, fishing, and hiking from the 16 public beaches that call Douglas County home. Enjoy scouring the beaches for sea glass or watch migrating birds at the historic Wisconsin Point, part of the world’s largest freshwater sandbar. Experience a south shore sunrise as you fish at the mouth of the mighty Brule River. Watch as thousand-foot iron-ore and grain boats make their way to port in the Superior Bay through the Superior Entryway. Come and see the beauty, power, and vastness of Lake Superior that has inspired countless songwriters, poets, artists, writers, and photographers.
Whether you enjoy fishing inland lakes for pan fish, fly fishing on a bubbling river, or chartering a deeper water fishing adventure on Lake Superior, Superior and surrounding Douglas County are an angler’s dream come true. With a variety of fishing opportunities for every type of anger, Douglas County makes a great fishing getaway from the spring melt to the time honored Northwoods tradition of ice fishing.
The Douglas County Forest is home to more than 40 lakes and 150 miles of rivers and streams. Species range from warm water fish such as muskellunge to coldwater species such as trout and salmon. The most commonly pursued fish in Douglas County include bluegills, crappies, perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, muskellunge, brook trout, and brown trout.
Douglas County is also home to the Bois Brule River, a world-renowned trout stream. The Brule is often referred to as the “River of Presidents” because five United States Presidents have visited and fished the river – Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Dwight Eisenhower. The river is also a mecca for anglers hoping to land steelhead trout, chinook salmon, coho salmon, and brown trout. Fly fishing is a popular pastime, with many public-access areas for parking along the Brule.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet float down a river, or crave the excitement of kayaking through class II rapids, the Brule River offers something for everyone. Trips down the river can take anywhere from 46 minutes to more than four hours, depending on where you launch. The Brule River Canoe Rental in Brule, Wis., offers canoe and kayak rentals, along with shuttle service.
Have your own canoe, kayak, or boat? The City of Superior has four boat launch facilities located along the Superior Bay and St. Louis River. Take a paddle through Pokegama Bay, enjoy sports boating along the Gordon Flowage, or take a trip up and down the St. Croix, and don’t forget your life jacket!
With more than 278,000 acres, the Douglas County Forest is the Ideal place for those who enjoy hunting and trapping a variety of species. The Forest is open to the public, with the exception of a few areas around developed features such as parks. Within the forest lives a variety of animals such as white-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkey, ruffled grouse, waterfowl, and other small game.
Not only will you find ample hunting opportunities, Douglas County also provides a hunter-friendly atmosphere. Deer hunting is a time-honored tradition to many who live and recreate in the Northwoods. Many of our businesses support the hunting tradition and offer special events from the fall opener throughout the hunting season.
With more than 300 miles of groomed snowmobile and winter ATV trails, our trails entice thousands of outdoor enthusiasts to Northwest Wisconsin every winter. Kept in great condition by local snowmobile clubs, on these trails you’ll meet lots of friendly people along the way. The trailside businesses welcome sledders and four-wheelers with open arms after a day of taking in spectacular winter scenery.
The Tri-County Corridor connects Superior to Ashland and parallels US Highway 2 to the north, passing through beautiful forests. Other notable corridor trails include the Gandy Dance State Trail that crosses from Minnesota and connects to the Saunders State Trail just south of Superior, and the Wild Rivers State Trail that connects Douglas County to Washburn and Barron Counties. Be sure to visit TravelSuperior.org to check the recreations report page for updates before hitting the trails!
In Northwest Wisconsin, we believe that winter is no time to hibernate. We go and enjoy the snowy season and all it has to offer. When the snow falls, you can trade in your hiking boots and strap into some snowshoes as several of our great hiking trails transform into fantastic snowshoe trails once the ground is covered in white, fluffy snow. One of the best snowshoeing trails is the Old Historical Bayfield Hiking/Snowshoe Trail, which spans 2.3 miles, overlooks Lake Superior, and is located in the Brule River State Forest. Douglas County is also home to more than 30 miles of groomed cross country ski trails that appeal to anyone from beginner to advanced skiers. The City of Superior’s Superior Municipal Forest houses 16 miles of groomed trails, including trails designed for skate skiing. Downhill skiers, snowboarders, and tele-skiers can enjoy 11 runs at the Mont du Lac Recreation area, with runs groomed for beginners to experts. Mont du Lac has more than 20 features with small to large jump lines, challenging even the most advanced riders.
With more than 100 miles of maintained summer ATV trails, Douglas County is the perfect destination for any ATV vacation. Fun-filled and heart-pumping, ATVing is the perfect way to experience both the beauty and the thrill of Northwest Wisconsin.
In Douglas County, you’ll find an ATV-friendly atmosphere, with lots of great trailside businesses and attractions to stop at. Similar to our snowmobile trails; our most notable trails include the Saunders Grade, Gandy Dancer Trail, Wild Rivers Trail, and the Tri-County Corridor. With plenty of trail-adjacent lodging properties and unique restaurants with trail access, a summer adventure is within your reach.
From paved beginner trails to single-track mountain bike trails to beautiful footpath hiking trails, Superior-Douglas County has plenty more miles of trails to explore that highlight the area’s natural beauty.
The City of the Superior features two paved hiking and biking trails - the Osaugie Trail, which spans five miles along the Superior Bay, and the Millennium Trail, a 1.6 mile out and back trail that meanders through the Superior Municipal Forest. The Municipal Forest also features the Pokegama Trail, an obstacle-ridden six mile mountain bike trail perfect for intermediate riders. Douglas County is also home to over 40 miles of the North Country Scenic Trail, a trail that stretches 4,600 miles from North Dakota to New York and is the largest hiking patch in the United States. The trail passes in the footsteps of native people and fur traders as it crosses the historic Brule-St. Croix Portage.
Douglas County is also home to two Wisconsin State Parks - Amnicon Falls State Park and Pattison State Park. Pattison State Park is home to Big Manitou Falls, which at 165 feet is the highest waterfall in Wisconsin. The park encompasses more than 1,400 acres with trails such as the Beaver Slide Nature Trail, a two-mile trail through Pattison Park’s boreal forest. Amnicon Falls State Park features a series of delightful waterfalls and rapids along the Amnicon River. You can view them from a covered footbridge or a quarter mile looping trail that gives you viewing access to the three main falls; Upper, Lower, and Snake Pit.
One of the best ways to enjoy the trails, lakes, and streams is when the leave start to change. From mid-late September to early October, Northwest Wisconsin turns from green to beautiful shades of red, yellow, and orange. Suggested hikes for the best fall color viewing include: The Historic Old Bayfield Road Trail, Little Manitou Falls Trail at Pattison State Park, or the Brule River State Forest Trails.
Douglas County also has thousands of miles of scenic highways that are perfect for a leisurely drive through the fall colors. Suggested drives for the best fall color viewing include: Highway 13, just south of Superior toward Bayfield, Wisconsin; Highway 2 from Superior to Ashland, Wisconsin; and Highway 35 from Superior to Dairyland.
Camping and Lodging
Some of the best memories are made while camping. Superior and Douglas County are home to many privately-owned campgrounds and RV Parks as well as campsites at Pattison State Park and Amnicon Falls State Park, Lucius Woods County Park, Gordon Dam County Park, and Mooney Dam County Park. If staying in a tent isn’t quite right for the trip you’re planning, there are plenty of indoor lodging options from hotels on the water to rentable cabins on beautiful lakes. You can visit the website, TravelSuperior.Org, or contact the Welcome Center to find more information on lodging options.
Plan Your Trip
There are plenty of ways to experience Superior and Douglas County. From fishing, hunting, and hiking to ATVing and snowmobiling, there are year-round adventures waiting for all types of outdoor enthusiasts. The best place to start planning your Northwest Wisconsin adventure is to check out the website TravelSuperior.Org or to contact us via phone or email! If you are interested in receiving a Superior-Douglas County Travel and Activities Guide, you may call (715)392-2773 or toll free (800) 942-5313. You may also email us at [email protected].
This article first appeared in the Spring Issue (Mar/Apr) 2018 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.