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Feature Highlight - The Bear Skin Trail

Adjacent to Nitschke's Northern Resort lies an 18-mile recreational trail called the Bearskin. From it's roots to its modern-day use, this breathtaking, forest-lined corridor is both scenic and purposeful. With an entrance to the trail located directly on our property, we figured a brief highlight of this magnificent feature would be appropriate.

Once the site of a logging train, then converted to a passenger train system, now offering biking, hiking and snowmobiling opportunities, this trail is a 4-season treat to all who visit.

bearskin trail with people biking

Gus Nolan, surveyor and timber cruiser, arrived in Minocqua from Canada in 1887. As with many of the early settlers, he saw the massive, hundred year old trees that covered most of the state as a prime opportunity to build wealth through logging. Those investing in building this industry helped lay the railroad that would eventually run to and from Minocqua, carrying lumber downstate for sale.

Unfortunately, in a span of only 10 years, they managed to cut down nearly all of the pine and hardwood trees, leaving them to reassess how to earn their keep up north. (1) Because of the area's vast span of glacial lakes, diverse wildlife and productive fishing spots, Gus and others began developing the area to accommodate fishermen and hunters.

trail with snow on it

By 1924, the resort built by Gus Nolan called "The Northern" (now Nitschke's Northern Resort) could accommodate up to 100 guests. The need for consistent passenger train service became apparent as his and others' resorts began to boom with travelers. Minds in Milwaukee began churning on a solution.

The Milwaukee Road was an already established railroad system that operated from Milwaukee to St. Paul throughout the 1900's. As the Minocqua area grew, operators of this line developed the plan to service a new section of Wisconsin with a tract from New Lisbon to Minocqua.

The North Woods Hiawatha was launched in 1937 and began delivering crowds of people from the Milwaukee and Twin Cities area. (2) As the primary way to travel to and from vacation destinations back then, the train and the passengers who rode it were a strong influence in the development of the North Woods. Soon downtown Minocqua was offering a plethora of goods and services for visiting guests.

But as with all great things, the North Woods Hiawatha came to an end, in part due to increased travel by car. Thus, it stopped servicing Minocqua in 1956, ending the route in Wausau, WI. (3) When the need for these tracks no longer existed, it was decided to transform a portion of them into a trail system. Thankfully, they chose the area starting from downtown Minocqua, heading past our resort and ending south at the intersection of County Highway K and Hwy 51.

"Today the trail is a recreation corridor, surfaced with compacted granite suitable for walking and bicycling in summer and snowmobiling in winter." (4)

Guests of Nitschke's Northern Resort are in a prime position to enjoy the Bearskin Trail any time of the year. During the winter, snowmobiling enthusiasts regularly make use of the trail system to travel all over the North Woods, enjoying the fresh snow fall on the trail.

snowmobile on trail in snow

In the summer, guests of all ages ride their bikes, walk and jog the day away. Some go exploring southbound while others hike north towards downtown Minocqua. A mere 5 minute stroll from our resort to the heart of downtown, many guests appreciate the convenience of this alternative to driving, especially after some late night cocktails at one of the many restaurants in the area. :)

kids on bikes on trail

Others find pleasure in watching the one-of-a-kind sunsets over Lake Kawaguesaga during an evening stroll on the trail.

sunset over lake viewed from bearskin trail

(pictured above is a sunset viewed from Bear Skin Trail)

And the best part is that the entrance to the trail is literally on our resort property. No travel required! If you haven't yet experienced a summer or winter at Nitschke's Northern Resort, you are missing out! Call today to book a cabin 715-356-7795.





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