Wisconsin offers hikers spectacular waterfalls, varied terrain, long vistas, and the ancient Penokee Mountain Range.

Wisconsin Porcupine Lake North Country Trail

Scenic Porcupine Lake


Explore by Region:

Important notes for Wisconsin: Visit the Wisconsin DNR website here for information on State Parks passes and camping reservations within Wisconsin state parks, forests, and recreation areas.

Eastern Wisconsin

Copper Falls State Park

Copper Falls State Park, photo by Kenny Wawsczyk

MI/WI border near Superior Falls to Sandstone Ledges Spur Trail in Copper Falls State Park

Mileage: 40 miles (13 off-road 28 on-road)

Rating: Moderate

Need to Know:  Currently only a road walk exists from the state border to near Upson Lake. This is changing annually as more trail is constructed. Stock up on water at the state line (Montreal River) as obtaining filterable water near the first 13.5 miles of the road walk may be difficult. Should not be a problem as numerous permanent streams are present. Low impact camping on the Iron County Forest is permitted and backpacker campsites exist about a mile west of Casey Sag Road (Gold Mine West Campsite at MP-17) and at Wren Falls (MP-19.5).

The Trail: Characterized as “the land of waterfalls and rock outcrops,” this section of trail falls within a less developed part of the state—thus it feels somewhat more wild than other portions of the state. Passing through portions of the ancient, but worn down Penokee Mountain Range, you’ll encounter many rock outcrops. These outcrops offer expansive vistas where the trail passes over the top or skirts their bases and give trailside interest in the form of a wall of lichens, mosses, and small ferns.

Notable Locations:

  • Saxon Harbor
  • Lake Superior shoreline
  • Waterfalls—Superior Falls, Potato River Falls, Foster Falls, and Wren Falls
  • The Potato River
  • Expansive vista overlooking Upson Lake
  • Expansive vista half way between Casey Sag Road and Wren Falls on a rock outcrop
  • 5 miles of trail overlooking the Bad River in Copper Falls State Park.

Get Involved! Trail Maintaining Chapter: Heritage Chapter of the North Country Trail Association


Chequamegon National Forest

Porcupine Lake Spring Chequamegon

Porcupine Lake Spring, photo by Chequamegon Chapter

Sandstone Ledges Spur Trail in Copper Falls State Park to Bayfield County A.

Mileage: 67 miles (65 off-road,/2 on-road)

Rating: Moderate

Need to Know: There is no longer a restaurant in Mellen. Obtaining filterable water should not be a problem as numerous small streams and lakes are present. A developed campground is adjacent to the trail in Copper Falls State Park and there are three developed USFS campgrounds near the trail. Throughout the rest of the Chequamegon National Forest, dispersed camping is allowed as long as it is 100 feet from the trail or water.

The Trail: Characterized as “the land of solid forest and small lakes,” this is the oldest section of trail within the state as it was the U.S. Forest Service’s “Northern Country Trail” that provided the inspiration and name for the North Country National Scenic Trail. The entire stretch passes through fairly gentle terrain except near the Brunsweiler and Marengo River valleys. Visitors are attracted to the idea of Federally Designated Wilderness Areas thus making these two areas popular destinations. The trail passes through two Federally designated Wilderness Areas (Porcupine Lake Wilderness and Rainbow Lake Wilderness) Visitors are attracted to the idea of Federally Designated Wilderness Areas thus making these two areas popular destinations where one is likely to encounter more hikers.

Notable Locations:

Get Involved! Trail Maintaining Chapter: Chequamegon Chapter of the North Country Trail Association

Trail Town: Mellen


Western Wisconsin

Wisconson Brule Valley Overlook

Brule Valley Overlook, photo by Bill Menke

Bayfield County A to the WI/MN border

Mileage: 105 miles (54 off-road,/51 on-road)

Rating: Moderate

Need to Know: Filterable water is readily available from the many streams and lakes along the trail with the longest dry stretch spanning the juncture between the Central and Western Sections (Tower Lake at MP-99 to Erick Lake at MP-112.5). Within the Western Wisconsin Section, the land managers want camping to take place at designated locations. Therefore, designated backpacker campsites have been established every 2-8 miles along the trail from Bayfield A to West Mail Road. Along the road walk between West Mail Road and Pattison State Park, low impact camping on Douglas County Forest lands is permitted. A developed campground is adjacent to the trail in Pattison State Park.

The Trail: Characterized as “the land of variety,” this segment offers a wide variety of experiences from fairly flat to following along the rims of deep valleys that offer expansive vistas. The entire segment has been built with gentle grades. Explore a series of managed forests and experience a wide variety of vegetative conditions—from old growth groves of Red and White Pine to newly harvested areas and everything in between. While the 5+ miles of trail passing through the Douglas County Wildlife Area is open and exposed, this is a not-to-miss segment. During the late summer and fall the prairie flowers and grasses are their showiest. The eastern few miles of trail include small, pristine lakes. Except for these few miles, the rest of this segment is associated with streams. Designated backpacker campsites have been established every 5-8 miles along the trail.

Notable Locations:

  • Expansive vistas overlooking the valley of the Bois Brule River
  • Motts Ravine and Motts Ravine State Natural Area
  • Clear, spring fed creeks including Jersett, St. Croix, Catlin, Aden, Spring, Leo, and another Spring Creek
  • The Historic Portage and the headwaters of the Bois Brule and the St. Croix
  • A ¾ mile long boardwalk passing through the Brule Bog
  • A fish ladder just north of Solon Springs
  • The Douglas County Wildlife Area
  • St. Croix National Scenic River with its historic Gibson Cabin
  • The highest waterfall in Wisconsin—Big Manitou Falls within Pattison State Park
  • The MacQuarrie Wetland complex with its Oswald Observation Platform, opportunity to see Trumpeter Swans, and two expansive vistas.

Get Involved! Trail Maintaining Chapter: Brule St. Croix Chapter of the North Country Trail Association

Trail Town: Solon Springs


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