Most hiking and biking trails weave through public property. Not the three park units of the Tara Lila – Sundstein Road, Ripco Road, and Section 9.
The Tara Lila is a privately held wilderness conservation and trail management organization. This dedicated team of hardworking volunteers and gracious partners keep the Three Eagle Trail open year-round. In fact, when state trails were initially closed at the outset of the pandemic in 2020, the non-motorized Three Eagle Trail and Tara Lila maintained trails remained in use.
The maintenance of any trail system essentially comes down to dealing with trees. The organization spends hundreds, if not thousands, of hours every year to help make sure the trails remain accessible and as safe as possible for hikers and cyclists in non-snow seasons and for snow-shoers and cross-country skiers in winter.
The trails include a variety of landscapes ranging from forest, prairie, and wetland. Wildlife is teeming throughout the trail system, so bringing a camera and binoculars is a good idea.
Several community events use the Three Eagle Trail on an annual basis. The SepTimber Ride is an annual September biking event starting and ending at Tribute Brewing in Eagle River and circling past the Three Lakes Winery. The Three Eagle Half Marathon and 5k race takes place each October. Each winter a Snowshoe Celebration takes place, culminating with a nighttime Luminary Walk, when the trail is illuminated by tealights.
Born out of a partnership between landowners Richard and Amy Jo Aylward and the Three Eagle Trail, the Tara Lila started in 2007 after the Aylwards purchased land in the Northwoods with the hopes of creating a homestead. The first park unit opened on Sundstein Road, where the Three Eagle Trail runs through their property. Richard and Amy Jo discovered that protecting this beautiful land was their passion and could be a gift to future generations. The Section 9 Road unit followed, with the Ripco Road being “completed” more recently.
Support from the Great Headwaters Trails was essential, too. This local, all-volunteer nonprofit is focused on building biking and hiking trails connecting the towns in eastern Vilas County. There is an effort underway to construct the River Trail, which would connect the towns of Eagle River and St. Germain. This would also connect the Three Eagle Trail to the Heart of Vilas Trail, a 52-mile network of bike and pedestrian paths across Vilas County.
The next time you’re on the Three Eagle Trail, you can thank the Aylwards, Tara Lila, and all of the volunteers that help make it a great trail in any season and any weather.
For more information about the Eagle River trail system, check out the link: https://eagleriver.org/area-trails. See you soon on Eagle River trails!