“Don’t Tread on Me” Eco-Friendly
National treasure. God’s country. Up north. Natural gem. Yup, that’s all we really need to say to set the tone for a getaway to Vilas County, Wisconsin. For anyone who likes to tread lightly on the earth even when they’re on vacation, have we got an eco-friendly itinerary for you.
Hit the trails, but gently
The trails in the St. Germain area are tailor-made for the heart-healthy hikers and walkers in the group. Those who like to take in nature and scenery by pedaling will appreciate the quiet roads that meander through pristine forests and around equally pristine lakes. If you have time to do just one trail, make it the St. Germain Bike and Hike Trail. It is 12 miles of paved pleasure for bicyclists, hikers and birdwatchers that dovetails with 27 miles of Vilas County trails.
If you want to see natural beauty from a higher vantage point, check out the new Northwoods Zip Line Canopy Tour. The grand opening for this eco-adventure is Memorial Day Weekend. Plus there’s always geocaching…who knew there were so many options in our neck of the woods.
Skim the surface of the water
Canoe, kayak, raft or tube down the Wisconsin River with assistance from Hawk’s Nest Canoe Outfitters. Or stay put and use the complimentary kayaks and canoes provided by Black Bear Lodge to get out on Little St. Germain Lake.
Go in for a little “upcycling”
The St. Germain Flea Market runs Mondays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Memorial Day through Labor Day. This year we’re told they’re adding a farmer’s market to it. Boulder Junction (every Tuesday) and Land O’Lakes (every Thursday) have weekly flea markets too.
Toast to local producers
The Friday Minocqua Farmers’ Market is a producers-only market featuring produce from the surrounding eight counties; it runs 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting May 23. Take a tour of the family-owned Three Lakes Winery to see how cranberry wine is produced. Or visit Brigadoon Winery to try their wines – they use local fruits whenever possible and have their own vineyard too. When it comes to the farming heritage in the state, it’s dairy, and that means ice cream.
June 7th is the annual ice cream social at Cathy’s Ice Cream ‘n Candy Shoppe in St. Germain. Taste tip: Try the premium ice cream from local creamery Sassy Cow.
Check out the Northwoods Wildlife Center in Minocqua to learn how orphaned and wounded wildlife are nursed back to health. Trees for Tomorrow in Eagle River, founded in 1944 for the purpose of reforesting northern Wisconsin, is another notable eco-conscious destination offering nature programs and interpretive hikes.
Look to the sky
Birders unite! In Wisconsin’s great north woods there are loons, bald eagles and great blue herons to observe, plus more elusive species like pileated woodpeckers, hummingbirds and gray jays. Remember – be extremely quiet and move slowly. You may also want to attend the 10th Annual Birding Festival at the North Lakeland Discovery Center, which takes place May 9-10 during the peak of spring migration. Field trips to local birding hotspots and live bird banding demos are included in the $50 registration.
Try one unexpected thing
It’s less than an hour’s drive to Bond Falls in Pauling, Michigan (see, we’re neighborly that way). It’s a 50-foot high waterfall of the Ontonagon River (just don’t ask us to pronounce that). While in the area, ask the locals about the mysterious Paulding Light.