Adventure: birdwatching

Learn more about birdwatching
Credit: Tom Daggett


Birdwatching is a popular activity in Vilas County, particularly in the fall when the leaves turn vibrant colors and migratory birds are on the move. Flocks of geese, ducks and cranes are on their way south, heading straight through Vilas County. New to birding? There’s nothing wrong with winging it, no pun intended. But it helps to have the right gear. Make sure you have some good walking shoes, and consider bringing a pair of binoculars. A birding guidebook is also a useful item to bring along. To have the most success birdwatching, it helps to head down the trail a bit. 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 a lake loop 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. Bring some warm clothes – fall mornings can be cool – but dress in layers because the days can really warm up as the sun rises above the trees. Three great lake loops 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 birdwatcher 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 where you can see hundreds of species. This is big country: 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 in Vilas County that are beautiful in the fall 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.



Want more trails info?

Download the Map It Vilas County trails app or order the Vilas County Silent Sports Trail Map today.