Promoting quiet recreation in Wisconsin.
Opposing the coming attempts to sell off Wisconsin's natural heritage.
Fighting denial about climate change. When are we hitting the streets?

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

John Bates weighs in on extremist editorials in the Lakeland Times

John Bates is a real treasure for the Lakeland area-his outdoor almanac in the Lakeland Times is what I look for first in the Lakeland Times. River Life: A Natural History of a River is required reading for anyone paddling on the Manitowish. He usually makes his arguments through quiet advocacy in his columns and public presentations, but I was glad to see him respond to the perpetual screeds in the editorial section of the paper.

Great news for Wisconsin-another forest segment protected

The Tenderfoot Reserve-thanks to the Nature Conservancy, the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, and especially the Rahr family.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Quietnorth Recommended reading: Kevin McCullough In the Lakeland Times

Wouldn't you know it? I had just sent a letter to the editor of the Lakeland Times castigating the paper for its lack of editorial independence and courage, and before my letter is printed along comes a great editorial by Kevin McCullough. Kevin's piece is brilliant. The Lakeland Times could become a great paper if Kevin and John Bates could alternate editorials each week with Gregg Walker.

From Boulder to Land O' Lakes via "Old B"

This was an "accidental trip" that started out when I was looking for a foot path to the DNR canoe campsites on High Lake. I wrote about these sites previously when I was describing a paddling trip down the Manitowish. During that trip I saw an intriguing path leading north from one of the campsites. I guessed that the path probably hit the East/West snowmobile trail, and resolved to find it one day. And so later in the summer, on a 90 degree day, it seemed like a good idea for a small exploration..
After several missteps, I found the path, took a swim in the clear water, and feeling energized, decided to follow the snowmobile trail that headed east. It was hot, but I had a bottle of water, and was encouraged by the raspberry bushes sprinkled on the way. Before I knew it, I was on Highway B, near enough to the boat landing and the start of "OLD B". You can hardly go wrong exploring any road that starts with the word "Old". Well, maybe you can, but if you have a hybrid or mountain bike, the first 3/4's of "old B" rides like a dream. I thought I would follow it for a little way, but I kept wanting to see what was beyond the next turn. I soon resolved to ride till my water bottle was half empty, then return. The road is canopied most of the way, so I was shielded from the worst of the heat. You will go by bog lakes, deep older forests, and a few cutover areas. The road is sandy, with some gravel, but very packed down. The Eastern third of "old B" is hillier, and you will want to be careful at the bottom of hills. I took the road during a hot, dry summer, I could imagine that the hills could be rutty in rainy weather. I passed Jute and Indian Lake roads on the right, and I tucked the information away for future trips.
I soon came to the point of return, when I told myself I ought to turn back. But I went just a little further, and came to the paved road that rings Forest Lake. From there, I was quickly out to Highway B and a wonderful Oasis called "Miller's Market" Miller's has groceries, sandwiches, pizza, ice cream, air conditioning(!) and I found, on summer Sundays, live music in the afternoon. Miller's is also the West end of the Land O' Lakes bike trail, so I had found the way to make an off highway bike trip from Boulder to Land O' Lakes. I was too tired to make the trip all the way to Land O' Lakes and back, so I headed back to Boulder, leaving the Land O' lakes bike trail segment for another day.


Boulder Junction to Land O' Lakes Off County Highways. I recommend from the length and isolation of the trip that you take a partner, and make it a "one way trip". Looks like lots of good places to eat and drink in Land O' Lakes!

Go North of Boulder alongside Highway M. You can follow the snowmobile path, or ride on M, which has a bike lane until you get to the Manitowish River.

Take a right on "High-Fishtrap Road". This is a quiet, non-hilly two lane forest road that starts out as a long straight stretch, then takes a 90 degree turn to the left as Fishtrap dam road (a dirt road) goes straight. I recommend going early in the morning, you may see one of the many albino deer that reside in the area. Soon, you will go past Fishtrap Lake road on the right, and "High-Fishtrap" becomes "High Lake" road. Continuing for a few miles, you will pass Grassy Lake on the left (stop for a minute in the quiet open area around Grassy Lake) and cross over Grassy creek. Soon, you will come to a fork in the road, with Ridge Road going to the right, and High to the left. Continue on High lake road. You will soon go by several bog lakes on the right, including "Minnie lake".

Now, here is the tricky part. Its only a little tricky. You will come up to a short, one block long lane on the left hand side of the road with an unfortunate hill. Hey, its only a block long. Climb the hill, and you will hit a two block long road running perpendicular to you. (sort of hitting the top of a letter"T") Turn along the left hand branch of the T, and look over to your right . You will see a berm (a pile of dirt to prevent vehicles from riding onto a path), and a little way in, the snowmobile trail. Be patient. It is there. Easier to see in spring than summer.

Once you are on the snowmobile trail, go to the right (East) and have a fun ride. Except for the occasional log across the trail, the riding is fine in dry weather. You may have some luck with blueberries and Raspberries along the way.

The trail eventually crosses Highway B. You have the option of following the snowmobile trail, or cheating a bit by turning right and riding on Highway B itself.

Highway B goes past the High Lake/Manitowish River Boat landing on the Right, then you will quickly see High Lake Road (different from the previous High Lake road!) on the right. "Old B" is on the left, just a little way in from High Lake Road.

Follow Old B for quite a while. You will go past a gravel pit, with a "road closed" sign. There was no action in the gravel pit this weekend, I don't know if it might be busy during the week, but it didn't look like a problem if you stayed on the path.

Old B goes past Jute Lake Road on the right, then Indian Lake Road. After it comes out on Forest Lake Road, a paved road, take a left, and you can ride in style to highway B, knowing that well deserved refreshments await you at Miller's. One end of the Land O' Lakes bike trail starts here, so there is a nice parking lot available.

Very Scary! More from Brook Waalen...


Like I said in yesterday’s email the Minnesota ATV lobby won a HUGE victory last session. The details are outlined in a comprehensive front page article in today’s _Pioneer Press_ (read at Here are some key points:

1) MN DNR has inventoried 1,100 miles of “official” state trails for off road vehicles but more than 11,000 miles of “unofficial” trails.
2) This year 74 percent of Minnesota State Forestland is accessible to ATVers. They can now ride on any trail not posted “closed.”
3) As of August 1, 2005 riders “can go on any visible trail, even if it’s not part of a designated trail system.”
4) 270,000 MN ATV registrations = 5 percent of MN’s population owns ATVs.

ATVers have told us what they want and they obviously have the means to get it.


From Brook Waalen; ATV use summit

Friends in Wisconsin and Minnesota:

I’m working with Matthew Norton of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy to organize a one-day summit that will bring together individuals, organizations, and key decision-makers from MN and WI to address the negative impacts of recreational ATV use. The aim of this summit is to:

1) Create a coalition of individuals and organizations committed to bringing the issue of negative impacts of recreational ATV riding, especially on public lands, to the attention of lawmakers.
2) Expand the statewide communication network that can inform and support those dealing with the ATV juggernaut.
3) Share ideas, experiences, and lunch with like-minded people.
4) Take meaningful action.

The ATV issue has the potential to be the spark that rekindles a broad-based interest in reestablishing natural resources management policies that are based on stewardship and sustainability versus exploitation and consumption. If the recent ATV victories at the Minnesota legislature are a sign of things to come we must brace ourselves.

The one-day summit will be held September 22 from 10am-2pm at the Tower Ridge Cabin in Eau Claire, WI. Directions are at the end of the email. Lunch will be ordered when you arrive (plan on deli sandwiches). The estimated cost per attendee will be about $10-15 which will include the cost of your individual lunch and the facility use fee.

To help with planning please:
1) Contact me by email or phone with your availability; and,
2) Forward this email to one or more organizations/individuals who you know have an interest in this subject and include those contacts with your response.

Brook Waalen


There is road construction all around Eau Clair but supposedly there is good signage to Tower Ridge. I offer the following directions as a courtesy to our guests but will suggest they get a sense of where they are going before leaving and that they bring a map:

From MPLS/St Paul take I94 to Eau Claire. The simple way is to stay on I94 to Hwy 93 north to Hwy 53 north. Turn right (east) to North Crossing and continue (east) about 7 miles (and onto County Road Q, also known as Olson Drive). Turn right (south) on County Road L (also known as south 82nd Ave). Travel south about 1 mile to Tower Ridge entrance road and the newly constructed facility (as opposed to the smaller, older cabin). Supposedly there are obvious signs all the way from Hwy 53.

A potential shortcut from I94 would be to turn east on Hwy 12 to Hwy 124 to La Salle St. (still heading east) to Peterson Ave. Turn right (south) on Peterson Ave. and left (east) on County Road Q, also known as Olson Drive. From here you will travel about 7 miles to County Road L. (also known as south 82nd Ave). Travel south about 1 mile to Tower Ridge entrance road and the newly constructed facility (as opposed to the smaller, older cabin).
Supposedly there are obvious signs all the way from Hwy 53.

From Duluth take Wisconsin Hwy 53 south to Eau Claire. Turn left (east) onto La Salle St. to Peterson Ave. Turn right (south) on Peterson Ave. and left (east) on County Road Q, also known as Olson Drive. From here you will travel about 7 miles to County Road L. (also known as south 82nd Ave). Travel south about 1 mile to Tower Ridge entrance road and the newly constructed facility (as opposed to the smaller, older cabin).
Supposedly there are obvious signs all the way from Hwy 53.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Quietnorth Recommended Reading: Shhhh! Why Wisconsin needs a quiet zone

I just discovered this article by Eric Ness in the May/June 04 issue of Wisconsin Trails. (By accident-In a Doctor's waiting room-one of those moments of serendipity!)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

What I have been up to....

Sorry I haven't posted in a bit-I have spent most of my free time taking advantage of the sunny weather.

Last Sunday, My wife and I participated in the first annual Presque Isle Pedallers fundraiser. We met some great people and are encouraged by the interest in bike trails in the area. "Old W" is a great, quiet bike ride. The plan is to create a bike path, either along old W or of of W, West to Winchester, to connect eventually to Manitowish Waters. I heard from several people that Lac du Flambeau is planning an ambitious trail as well that would connect to Manitowish Waters through the Powell Marsh. If you are from Wisconsin, and enjoy biking, consider donating to the trail projects.

As part of my town-to-town biking exercise, I did complete a path from Boulder Junction to Land O' Lakes that I will describe in detail later, but for now let me just say that "old B" running East to West, is a beautiful path.

I have to run now, but will write more tomorrow.