Adventure: birdwatching

Learn more about birdwatching


You can mark the progress of spring in Vilas County by the new arrivals. As the snow melts away, life emerges in the forest. Migratory birds are heading north, and some are settling into our forests for the season. New to birding? Anyone can head into the woods and find something to see. But it helps to have the right gear. Make sure you have some good walking shoes – you may want boots as the trails can become a bit wet in the spring­. Consider bringing a pair of binoculars and a birding guidebook along, so you can identify the songbirds you’ll see. Good places to get a start birdwatching include the Fallison Lake Trails in Sayner/Star Lake, the Spectacle Lake-Kentuck Lake Trail in Phelps and the Van Vliet Hemlocks in Presque Isle.


If you’ve done some casual birdwatching and would like a bit more of an outing, consider taking a Vilas County birdwatching hike. Since birds land and congregate near water, hiking along the lakeshore can be a great way to see a lot of birds. If you can, plan your hike in the morning when the forest is still and beautiful and birds are heading out to continue their journey south. Three great waterfront hikes to consider for your next birdwatching hike: the Powell Trails in Lac du Flambeau, the North Lakeland Discovery Center Trails in Manitowish Waters and the Guido Rahr Sr. Tenderfoot Forest Preserve Trail in Land O’ Lakes/Presque Isle.


Perhaps you’re a birder who has spent more than a little time in the woods. If you’re hoping to spot something rare or special to add to your list, or if you would like to just disappear in someplace special for a while, Vilas County is your place. The county has scores of trails and vast public lands filled where you can see hundreds of species. This is big territory: if you’re a photographer, pack along the long glass. If you’re heading to Vilas County from the south, you can rent lenses in Madison, Milwaukee or Chicago. There are some special birds in Vilas County; it’s worth being prepared.

Some more expansive trail systems to explore include the Escanaba-Pallette Lake Trails in Boulder Junction, the Mud Minnow Lake Trail in St. Germain and the Anvil Lake Trail in Eagle River. The Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area is also a mecca for birders – it’s a 2,189-acre nature conservancy property between Presque Isle and Boulder Junction. Also, consider a trek along the Powell Trails in the Powell Marsh Wildlife Area. Its vast land includes 4,300 acres in the wildlife area and another 8,000 adjacent acres of tribal-owned land.


Want more trails info?

Download the Map It Vilas County trails app today.