Hiking on North Trout Lake Nature Trail in Boulder Junction WI

Enjoy spring in Boulder Junction with this weekend itinerary

March 14, 2023

Take advantage of longer days, sunnier skies, and warmer temperatures when you visit Boulder Junction in Wisconsin’s Northwoods this spring. Whether you’re breathing in the fresh air on a tree-lined hiking trail, taking a leisurely bike ride between Vilas County’s charming communities, or casting for a trophy fish, there’s a lot to see and do in the springtime.

Here are a few ideas on how to make the most of a quick weekend getaway to Boulder Junction.

For hikers and bikers

Day 1

Your first stop when you get to town? One of our welcoming hotels, cabins, or resorts. You’re sure to find a great place to stay, whether you’re looking for a lakeside resort or a hotel with easy access to downtown and the trails. (Plus, rates tend to be lower in the spring, so you might find some good lodging deals as well.)

One thing you should do before your launch your outdoor adventure is download the free Map It Vilas County trails app, where you can find nearby trails by location, length, amenities, and more.

If you’re looking for a short, scenic hike as soon as you get to town, head south on County Highway M for about 5 miles to reach Cathedral Point Park, which offers outstanding views of the north and south basins of Trout Lake among towering pine trees—hence the “cathedral” name.

Day 2

Another great spot for a quick hike is the North Trout Lake Nature Trail, located a couple miles north of Cathedral Point Park on Highway M. This trail—part of the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest—is a one-mile loop that circles around a spruce-tamarack bog and offers great views of Trout Lake. It’s a popular hiking spot in spring due to the abundance of wildflowers.

If there’s one trail bikers shouldn’t miss in Boulder Junction, it’s the Heart of Vilas County Paved Bike Trail System, a scenic 52-mile route that connects Boulder Junction with Sayner and St. Germain to the south and east and Manitowish Waters and Mercer to the west. The trail was named a National Recreation Trail in 2020, and the paved asphalt path passes through a wide array of scenery and landscapes, from forests to wetlands and along prairies and lakes.

Head back into downtown Boulder Junction for lunch to discover delicious food at our local restaurants and bars. If you’ve got some free time, take a stroll downtown to visit some of Boulder Junction’s welcoming shops and stores.

After you’ve recharged, head back out and hit the trails for one more adventure. Mountain bikers—take a ride northwest of Boulder Junction to find the famous WinMan Trails, which are home to 22 miles of fun riding for bikers of all ages and abilities. (WinMan also regularly mows 6 miles of trails for hiking and trail running in summer and fall). Hikers looking for another scenic stroll should visit the Escanaba-Pallette Lake Trail, located in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest. This hilly and scenic trail offers loops ranging from 2 to 8 miles that take hikers through the woods and along the shorelines of several lakes. The trail system also connects with the nearby Lumberjack Trail.

Learn more about hiking and biking in Boulder Junction.

For anglers

Day 1

Spring doesn’t just mean time on the trails, either—fishing season opens in early May, and Boulder Junction is home to some of the best fishing waters in northern Wisconsin. There are nearly 200 lakes within 10 miles of downtown, including 50 Class-A musky lakes—one of the reasons Boulder Junction is known as the Musky Capital of the World™.

When you get to town, check into your lodging property for the weekend. Depending on where you’re staying, you might be able to take a few casts from shore as soon as you unload your car.

Next, make sure you’re geared up for the weekend ahead. If you don’t have a boat, you can rent one at Boulder Marine Center or Schauss Woodworking. Need gear, including tackle and bait? Head to Northern Highland Sports in downtown Boulder Junction.

If you really want to make the most of your fishing trip, consider hiring one of Boulder Junction’s knowledgeable, experienced fishing guides. They’ll provide everything you need for your angling adventures and use their expertise to make your fishing trip a fruitful one.

Day 2

It’s time to get out on the lakes! Again, with 194 waterways to choose from within 10 miles of downtown there’s lots of water to explore. Here’s a closer look at some of the area’s popular fishing lakes.

  • Boulder Lake: This 500-acre lake just north of downtown Boulder Junction is a popular fishing spot for walleye, musky, and panfish and can be accessed by two public boat landings.
  • Trout Lake: This massive lake covers 3,800 acres and reaches a maximum depth of 117 feet, so it offers lots of room for great fishing opportunities. Anglers can access the lake from three public boat landings and will find healthy populations of musky, panfish, smallmouth bass, trout, and walleye.
  • Big Muskellunge Lake: Well, with a name that appealing, it’s no wonder this lake southeast of Boulder Junction is a hotspot for anglers tracking down trophy musky. The 900-acre lake also has healthy populations of panfish, largemouth bass, and walleye, as well as some smallmouth bass and northern pike.

Learn more about fishing in Boulder Junction.