Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy Trails

By: Lacy Sellent, Writing Fellow at the Cable Natural History Museum

Fall—the season of change and brightly colored leaves.  I smiled to myself as I made my way down the rocky trail.  It had been awhile since I last set foot on the North Country Trail—mainly because of the constant cloud of mosquitoes.  I’d barely take two steps into the woods, when the grey mass would begin to circle my head and hum in my ears.  In my opinion, nothing can ruin a hike faster than a bloodsucking swarm of persistent mosquitoes.  That’s part of the reason why I enjoy fall hiking so much—cooler temperatures mean fewer mosquitoes.  The far-reaching views and glistening streams of northern Wisconsin are wonderful, too.

The North Country National Scenic Trail (NST) is on its way to becoming the longest such trail in all of the United States.  Over a hundred miles are already completed across northern Wisconsin. These segments take hikers down valleys, past waterfalls, and into beautiful forests.  One 60 mile section even goes through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.  

There are many segments to choose from.  For a short but eventful hike, Copper Falls State Park (northeast of Mellen, Wisconsin) offers a two mile jaunt down the trail.  While there, visitors can view old lava flows and rushing waterfalls.  The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest immerses hikers in its woodland realm.  Deer, rabbits, and grouse are quite common.  It was from this northern segment that the trail’s name—North Country—originated.

 And then there’s the Porcupine Mountains.  Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Porkies (as the Porcupine Mountains are sometimes nicknamed) also have access to great scenery.  Hikers can see the Black River waterfalls, the Sturgeon River Gorge and a section of trail known as the Trap Hills segment.  Although this bit of trail is in a remote area (located at the eastern end of the State Park), the location combined with the fall colors makes it quite the gem.

Another fascinating location the trail passes through is the Penokee Mountain Range near County Highway GG.  It may not look like a mountainous location today, but seven hundred million years ago it was.  Back then, the area would have looked as rough as the Rockies.  Over an immense amount of time, the mountains withered away from the effects of such damaging forces as wind and water.  The land changed a lot in the following several hundred million years.  At one point, it was all under water.  As of two hundred million years ago, the land began to become more like what we see today.  Hiking the North Country Trail means hiking in the mountains, sort of.  It’s mind boggling to think about. 

As I walked along the trail, I thought of these things.  It made me feel small but also full of awe.  I listened to the sounds of the forest.  I could hear the creak of the birch as they swayed with the breeze.  I could hear the pitter patter of squirrel feet.  I could hear that I wasn’t being followed by the constant hum of the mosquito.  Thinking of this made me smile again—no mosquitoes, how peaceful. This beautiful fall weather is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy the local woods and trails that make this area so great.

For over 44 years, the Museum has served as a guide and mentor to generations of visitors and residents interested in learning to better appreciate and care for the extraordinary natural resources of the region. The Museum invites you to visit its facility in Cable at 13470 County Highway M. The new exhibit, The Joy of Birds: Feathers in Focus opened in May, 2011. Find us on the web at to learn more about our exhibits and programs. Also discover us on Facebook, or at our blogspot,

No comments:

Post a Comment