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Northern Lakes Snowmobile Tour


Lakes, lakes and more lakes. It's no surprise. When you sled in Vilas and Forest Counties, you're traveling through one of the densest concentrations of lakes in the world. In these snow-blessed, tourism-oriented counties, a snowmobiler's life just couldn't get much better. You'll find nearly as many resorts as lakes and nearly as many reasons to return again and again to explore this wonderland of forests and frozen lakes. There are plenty of trails to ride; Vilas County has 391 miles of trail and Forest County has 375 miles. If you start your tour in Eagle River in mid-January you're liable to have a lot of company on the trails. That's when sledders turn out by the thousands for the annual World Championship Snowmobile Derby; five days of top-flight competition on the Derby Track's special iced-oval. Proving that what's old is new, one of the most popular parts of Derby Week are the Pro Vintage Races where collectors crank up their vintage sleds. At one time more than 100 different brands of snowmobiles were manufactured, so the vintage races treat spectators to a parade of unique styles and sounds. During race week, or any other time, you can see amazing modern and vintage racing machines and learn about their history at the International Snowmobile Racing Hall of Fame & Museum.

Speed and competition are exciting, but touring is what snowmobiling is all about. Heading east on Corridor Trail #10, you'll plunge into the extraordinary northern boreal wilderness that surrounds Eagle River. The mix of pines, hemlock, birch, oak and maple lining snow-covered lakes make postcard-perfect scenery. Be sure to bring a camera. In less than ten miles, you'll enter the Nicolet National Forest which covers nearly 75 percent of Forest County. At the crossroads town of Nelma on the Wisconsin/Michigan state line you'll turn west on Corridor Trail #6 for a cruise across the northern tier of Vilas County lakes. You'll pass thirteen large lakes and dozens of smaller ones on a fifty-mile run to Presque Isle. Along the way, you'll skirt the northern edge of another huge wilderness area - the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest covering 220,000 acres of Vilas, Oneida and Iron Counties. You'll love the scenery of this beautiful woods and waters area of Northern Wisconsin.

You'll also love the friendly resort communities of Phelps and Land O'Lakes en route. As you approach Land O'Lakes, you'll skirt the southern shore of Lac Vieux Desert, the headwaters of the Wisconsin River. The river bisects Wisconsin, flowing south 430 miles to meet the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien. Check your fuel gauge at Land O'Lakes; it's a long 25-mile haul to Presque Isle, though you can take a shortcut to Star Lake on Trail #7. At Presque Isle, Corridor Trail #6 turns southwest towards Manitowish Waters and Trail #2. This popular resort area has so many lakes - 3,500 acres of them in fact - that it's hard to find dry land. The resort towns are not so far apart now, but the scenery is no less beautiful.

Trail #2 takes you to Boulder Junction, just north of Trout Lake, the largest in Vilas County. The town is a perfect pit stop, offering all the services you or you sled might need. Heading south on Corridor Trail #15, you'll pick up Trail #11 and Corridor Trail #10 for a twisty run east to Sayner, the cradle of snowmobiling. It was here that Carl Eliason crafted the first true snowmobile in 1924. You can see some of Carl's early models in town at Eliason Hardware. Corridor Trail #10 east to Corridor Trail #13 takes you back to Eagle River. If you have a taste for wine, you might consider a ten-mile side trip south to nearby Three Lakes where you can tour and sample at the Three Lakes Winery. How about that; a tour with vintage wines and vintage snowmobiles?