New to the roads of Vilas County? You’re in for a treat. This is a land of rustic byways, beautiful vistas and plenty of great restaurants and attractions along the way. The roads are breathtaking in the fall, when Vilas County’s forests come alive with color. A fantastic place to start exploring Vilas County is Rustic Road 60. This winding 12-mile route will take you through the heart of the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest. It runs from Cty. Rd. K, south of Boulder Junction, to Cty. Rd. M in Sayner/Star Lake. R-60 passes near old logging camps, hiking trails and an old saw mill. On the west side of R-60, you’ll pass Lost Canoe Lake. You probably won’t see the missing canoe, but you will pass some unique rails that people use to launch boats from Cty. K. The lake is a popular fishing spot for walleye, largemouth bass and northern pike. Admire the trees reflected in the lake’s clear waters. On the east side of the route you’ll pass the turnoff for the Star Lake Nature Trail (Statehouse Rd.). The park is a nice scenic spot to stretch your legs; you can follow a nature trail out into a peninsula on Star Lake. It’s a great place to admire the fall leaves.
If you’re looking for a nice route that will take you pass some nice sites but you don’t want to spend the entire day driving, consider the drive from Presque Isle to Land O’ Lakes. The drive is about 30 miles, and it passes through some beautiful fall scenery that’s largely devoid of power lines. It’s an easy route to follow; just stay on Cty. Hwy. B. Heading east out of Presque Isle, you’ll pass the turnoff for the Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area (East Bay Rd.). This park consists of 2,189 acres of beautiful northern forest. Leashed pets are allowed, so it’s a good place for everyone in the car to stretch their legs. As you approach Land O’ Lakes, you’ll pass the Subcontinental Divide. Waters to the north run to the St. Lawrence Waterway; waters to the south flow to the Mississippi Watershed. Near Land O’ Lakes you’ll see the Land O’ Lakes Bike Trail. This bike/pedestrian trail is another pleasant place for a stroll and a good biking spot for families.
If you’re up for an adventure and a full dose of fall color, consider this drive. From Presque Isle, head east on Cty. Hwy. B towards Land O’ Lakes, and enjoy one of the prettiest stretches of road in the Northwoods. Then, hop on Hwy. 45S until you hit Cty. Hwy. E, where you’ll head east to Phelps. From Phelps, meander southwest on Hwy. 17 past North Twin Lake and continue south on Hwy. 45S into Eagle River. Along the way you’ll see picturesque high line pines. From there, take Hwy. 70W to St. Germain. Look for the statue of Chief St. Germain as you take Hwy. 155 north to Sayner/Star Lake before making your way west on Cty. Hwy. N. Take a right on to Cty. Hwy. M and stop off for some shopping or a snack in Boulder Junction. Head west on Cty. Hwy. K for a good night’s sleep in Manitowish Waters.