The truth is, with all the trails in the Eagle River area, hikers never feel crowded. There are more than 80 miles of trails to explore that make hiking with a friend a pleasantly peaceful endeavor. In fact, it’s just as likely to see wildlife as it is to see fellow hikers. The only crowds you’re likely to spot are pines, which truly shine in October since most deciduous trees have shed their colorful leaves.
The Eagle River area has an array of trails that offer a variety of views and difficulty levels. Most trails are relatively flat or sloping, but the length of these trails can determine which one is appropriate for your experience level. We’ve listed a few of the longest trails and a few of the shortest trails in our interconnected trail system. As a bonus, you can read about the Three Eagle Trail.
Short and Easy Hikes
At just 1 mile long to the east of Eagle River and south of Hwy. 70, the Franklin Lake Trail packs a big punch for sightseeing. Connected within the larger Hidden Lakes Trail system, the Franklin Lake Trail is often referred to as the “Avenue of Giants.” No David and Goliath kinds of giants to be seen here, but northern hardwood, pine and hemlock forest giants are plenty. Some trees date back to more than 400 years old.
North of Hwy. 70 to the east of Eagle River is an excellent 2.5-mile trail between Spectacle Lake and Kentuck Lake. Aptly named the Spectacle Lake-Kentuck Lake Trail, hikers can follow level terrain along the old Thunder Lake Railroad bed that was used in the early 20th century to transport logs to the sawmill. This trail can be fulfilling for birders, or anyone interested in identifying wildflowers.
At 15 miles long, the Nicolet North Trails offer fun loops for hikers, as well as mountain bikers. Part of the Nicolet National Forest, anyone traversing these trails is sure to see untouched, unspoiled beauty. This small system of trails includes specific sections like “Tom’s Hill,” “Gulch,” “Pat Shay,” “Narrow Gauge,” “Blue 22,” and “Easy Three,” among others. It’s also connected to the Anvil Trail, which is no easy hike itself at 12 miles.
Nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts are most likely to enjoy the Snipe Lake and Ewald Lake Trails, located just west of Eagle River and to the north of Hwy. 70. This 16-mile trail system is used for hunters, birders, and nature observers alike. An assortment of different wildlife habitats and a variety of timber types make exploring these trails a potentially all-day event. Be sure to pack a lunch and a camera if you do spend an entire day out there!
Three Eagle Trail
This popular 12-plus-mile thoroughfare connects Eagle River to Three Lakes. In addition to hiking, the Three Eagle Trail is known as an excellent biking route, as well as a fun cross country ski trail during the snow season.
The trailhead in the north begins at the Historic Rail Depot in Eagle River, moves south past the Dairy Queen, and down a 10-foot-wide crushed limestone path along the former Chicago & Northwestern Railroad grade for more than a mile. The south trailhead is located in Don Burnside Park in Three Lakes. In between the two Vilas County communities, the trail includes portions of scenic boardwalks, a bridge, wetlands, woodlands and several clearings along a gently rolling terrain.
Take a Hike
And we mean that sincerely! With so many different trails to explore, it can be easy to get lost (in the best kind of way). Let this guide help serve your next trail decision or contact the Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center to steer you in the right direction.
Get your hiking boots on, be sure to remember your camera, and we’ll see you up in the Northwoods soon!