Solon Springs, population approximately 600, is a northern Wisconsin summer resort community on the west shore of Upper St. Croix Lake, 30 miles south of Superior.
Originally known as White Birch when founded in 1855, the town changed its name to Solon Springs in the early 1900s, when Thomas Solon started a spring water bottling works where Leo Creek enters the lake. Hikers will find history beneath their boots as they walk the North Country Trail in the Solon Springs area. Four miles north of town, the Trail follows the Brule-St. Croix Portage, an ancient two-mile path linking the watershed of the Great Lakes with the Mississippi River. Native people led the first European visitor, Daniel Greysolon Sieur DuLhut, over the portage. Now within the Brule River State Forest, the portage today may look much as it did when Du Lhut crossed it in 1680, and as it did when used extensively in the North American fur trade era of the 1700s and early 1800s.
Hikers approaching from the west pass through the pine savanna of the Douglas County Wildlife Area and cross four-lane U.S. Highway 53 before entering the village from the south. The Trail follows marked streets past Swanson’s Motel and Campground. The motel is a favorite to thru-hikers and section hikers. They even have a plaque on the wall of Cabin #4 dedicated to M.J. Eberhart, “the Nimblewill Nomad,” a hiker and author who stayed in the cabin May 4, 2009 at the age of 70, when he did his 188-day thru-hike of the NCT. Swanson’s Motel is able to accept resupply boxes. (*Hikers, please add the dates and your phone number.) It also passes the Solon Springs Laundromat, another favorite of hikers, and the Solon Springs Historical Museum before reaching Lucius Woods County Park. The park offers a developed campground and beach area with excellent swimming and fishing, as well as hiking among large white and red pines protected within the park for more than a hundred years.
Both the Village of Solon Springs and the surrounding Town of Solon Springs are members of the NCTA Trail Town Program. Whether you come to hike for an afternoon or pass through on a long-distance trek, they welcome you to enjoy the scenery and hospitality of northwest Wisconsin.
Visit Lucius Woods County Park, which is also home to the Lucius Woods Performing Arts Center. In a large bandshell built of native pine above the lakeshore, weekend concerts in July and August bring popular regional entertainers to the community. You might hear an area symphony, a Chicago blues band, or a Minnesota bluegrass group if you visit on a Saturday evening.
Stop at the main business district, north of the park, for a grocery store, U.S. Post Office, a small public library in the Village Hall, and a branch of the Superior-based National Bank of Commerce with a 24-hour ATM.
You can find most everything that you might need for a resupply at Franny K’s Country Foods. Free wifi is available at the library, or in the parking lot of the library, and also at The Little Gift Shop. The hours at the U.S. Post Office can be somewhat limited, and could be difficult for resupply boxes.
Food is available at the St. Croix Inn, located about two blocks off the Trail in Downtown Solon Springs. Many hiker have stayed at the hotel that located on Lake St. Croix. The hotel is able to accept resupply boxes – hikers, please add the dates and your phone number. There is a small pool and a hot tub, and showers that are available for a very reasonable rate. They have a small lounge with some hot foods available, with seating with a view of the Lake St. Croix and wifi.
Visit the Douglas County Forestry Department. Just west of the park across Business Highway 53 is the headquarters of the Douglas County Forestry Department, with area maps and information. A large hardware/outdoor store, Solon Springs Mercantile, is about a mile away near US-53. Items such as Darn Tough Socks, Buffs, and outdoor equipment are available, as well as blaze orange hats and vests for safety, if you arrive near hunting season. Also near the highway are a gas/convenience store and Dollar General.
The Trail follows pine-shaded streets north past summer cabins until reaching County Highway A, where it leaves the developed area. Soft Pines Resort (9925 East County Rd A, Solon Springs, WI) and a local sports bar that serves food, is located about one mile of the before you reach the trailhead on the northern end of Lake St. Croix after you have left the town of Solon Springs. A few miles ahead are the Brule Bog Boardwalk, which takes the Trail through the unique cedar wetland where the St. Croix and Bois Brule Rivers rise, and then the Brule-St. Croix Portage. Trail campsites are located about a mile in each direction from the community: south at Leo Creek, north at Aden Creek.
If you are in Solon Springs, you are about 30 miles from both Superior, Wisc. and Duluth, Minn. If you are in need of replacement trail runners, the Tortoise and Hare Footwear in Duluth may have them in stock if you call them ahead. Duluth is not listed as a Trail Town because it is part of the Superior Hiking Trail.
Also nearby is the town of Brule, just a two-mile roadwalk from the NCT trailhead at Troy Pit Road. It’s located on U.S. Highway 2, north of Solon Springs. On the other side of the bogs, boardwalks, and canoe portages that you will have seen on the NCT, you will cross the Continental Divide. The lake in Solon Springs flows into the Mississippi, and the Brule River flows into Lake Superior. The Brule River has some of the best trout fishing, canoeing, kayak, and a variety of trails for ATV, and snowmobiles, bicycle trails, and hunting in the area.
Brule has an economy that is equipped for the needs of those who love the outdoors. There are restaurants in Brule, though it’s not an ideal town for resupply. Solon Springs has a grocery store. To visit Brule, take Troy Pit Road 0.2 miles to Highway 27 and head north 1.8 miles. The first business you will encounter is right before the intersection of Highway 27 and U.S. Highway 2 is 4 Seasons Cabin Rental, log style cabins that will accommodate several people. At the intersection of Highway 27 and U.S. Highway 2 is Twin Gables Cafe-Lounge, a family style restaurants with a good variety of food choices at a reasonable price.
- CENEX Gas/Midland Energy Gas Station: Typical gas station food available.
- Round Up North Pizzeria: Closed one day a week, check the website.
- United States Post Office
- Kro-Bar: Popular local bar with cooked food and many daily specials; breakfast served on weekends at 9:00 a.m.
- Brule River Motel & Campground: Traditional motel.
- Rivers Adventures Canoe Rentals:
Canoe rentals, but a good contact if you have failed outdoor equipment, or to arrange for a ride to Duluth.
The Brule-St. Croix Chapter is responsible for the North Country Trail section through Solon Springs.
Thru-hiker “Constantine” posted this video of a journey through Solon Springs on Day 137 of his NCT thru-hike in 2021.
- Village and Town of Solon Springs
- Brule River State Forest
- Friends of the Bird Sanctuary
- Lucius Woods County Park
- Lucius Woods Performing Arts Center
- Joan Salmen Memorial Library, Superior Public Library
- The Little Gift House
- Franny K’s Country Foods
- Solon Springs Mercantile
- Douglas County Forestry Department
- Solon Springs Historical Museum
- Solon Springs Laundromat
- Swanson’s Motel and Campground
- St. Croix Inn
Header photo by Teresa Nelson