A two-day winter trip to Boulder Junction
February 8, 2023
Boulder Junction is a great place to get out and play in the snow in northern Wisconsin. We’re home to great trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, but if you’re in the mood for faster pursuits, Boulder Junction also has some of the most exciting snowmobiling trails in the Northwoods.
Here are a couple ideas for a fun winter weekend (or mid-week) getaway to Boulder Junction.
(Before you go, be sure to check out Boulder Junction’s snow report for the latest conditions on the area’s cross-country skiing and snowmobile trails and download the free Map It Vilas County trails app, which will help you navigate your route even if you don’t have a cell signal.)
For skiers and snowshoers
Arrive in Boulder Junction and check in to a friendly hotel, cabin, or resort—whether you’re looking for a secluded lakeside stay or a hotel with easy access to the snowmobile trails, you’re sure to find a lodging property that’s ready to welcome you. Want to hit the trails right away? Head to Bouder Junction Winter Park, which is home a short, one-mile ungroomed trail open to cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and dogwalkers. (It’s also got a regulation-sized ice rink, a sledding hill, and a warming shelter.)
Boulder Junction offers easy access to the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, a popular recreation destination in any season. In winter, the forest is home to four scenic and well-tracked ski trails, including the Escanaba-Pallette Lake Trail System just east of Boulder Junction. This hilly trail is regularly groomed and tracked for classic skiing by the Wisconsin DNR and offers loops of 2, 4, 5.5, and 8.5 miles to intermediate and advanced skiers (note that a state trail pass is required to access the trail).
The nearby WinMan Trails (which take their name from their location between the communities of Winchester and Manitowish Waters) span 1,300 acres of rolling hills a short drive west of Boulder Junction. Classic and skate skiers will find plenty to love here, with more than 13 miles of trails to explore. There are also seven miles of trail loops for snowshoers to explore.
Boulder Junction is home to more than 125 miles of expertly groomed snowmobile trails, so there’s always somewhere to go on your sled. (Need to rent a snowmobile in the area? Check out Boulder Marine Center.) There are also lots of trailside lodging properties with plenty of parking so you can get up and ride first thing in the morning.
On your first day exploring the Northwoods, take a roughly 40-mile day trip to explore the stunning winter scenery and some of the lakes south and east of Boulder Junction. Head south on Trail #15 until you hit Trail #11, then head east, past Star Lake, Lone Tree Lake, and Little Star Lake. Once you reach the community of Star Lake, head north along Trail #8, which passes alongside the north shore of White Sand Lake on your way back into downtown Boulder Junction.
If you’re up for a little longer ride on your second day in the Northwoods, you can take a roughly 50-mile loop through the communities of Presque Isle and Winchester. Again, follow Trail #15—but north this time—out of downtown Boulder Junction until you hit trail sign 881, which will lead you to Trail #6, which takes past Lynx Lake and Presque Isle Lake heading into the town of Presque Isle. Continue along the trail as it passes Winchester, then follow Trail #2 back east into downtown Boulder Junction.
Full snowmobile trail maps are available at restaurants, bars, hotels, gas stations, and other retailers in the area, as well as at the Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce.