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Brule River State Forest Activities and recreation


Biking Biking

The Brule River State Forest has no designated trails for biking; however, it does contain numerous multi-use trails and roads that are ideal for mountain biking. Cyclists who enjoy getting away from the crowd may use any of the hunter walking trails, the Afterhours Trail (off ski-season), the Brule-St. Croix Snowmobile Trail, the Tri-County Corridor and many back roads.

View Hunter Walking Trails Map Packet  [PDF]

Camping Camping and backpacking

There are two rustic family campgrounds in the forest along with backpacking opportunities.

Canoe Canoeing and kayaking

Whether you are in the mood for a peaceful float with the family or the challenge of an exciting ride through whitewater, the Bois Brule River will meet your expectations.

Fishing Fishing

The Bois Brule River is one of Wisconsin's most famous and scenic trout streams. Due to its size, highly productive, self-sustaining fishery and steady flow of cool spring water, the Brule is considered one of the premier trout streams in the lake states. It has attracted anglers locally, regionally and nationally, even serving as a retreat for several U.S. presidents and other dignitaries. Today, the Bois Brule River draws an estimated 33,000 fishermen annually.

Horseback riding Horseback riding

Horseback riders can enjoy miles of trails within the Brule River State Forest, including the Brule-St. Croix Snowmobile Trail, hunter walking trails and numerous back roads. The North Country Trail is for foot traffic only; no horses are allowed.

Riders are encouraged to locate watering points on a map before starting out or bring water along on the ride. Riders should also keep in mind that hunters use the trails during the deer season. There is no horse camping on the Brule River State Forest, but private campgrounds in the area do accommodate horse campers.

View Hunter Walking Trails Map Packet  [PDF]

Hunting Hunter walking trails

The Brule River State Forest has more than 40 miles of hunter walking trails that provide easy access to favorable habitat for numerous game animals. Deer and grouse are the most commonly hunted species. Other hunting opportunities include woodcock, bear, and waterfowl. Trapping of species such as beaver, muskrat, fisher, otter, and mink is also common.

View Hunter Walking Trails Map Packet  [PDF]

Visit DNR hunting for regulation, season and license information.

Hiking Nature trail North Country Trail Snowshoeing  Hiking

The forest offers many opportunities for hiking.

Picnic Picnicking

The forest includes three picnic areas with tables and grills. The Mouth of the Brule Picnic Area is on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior. This spot is known for its fishing and swimming opportunities, long sandy beach and adjacent boat launch. Bathrooms are provided, and drinking water is available via hand pump.

The Bois Brule Picnic Area is adjacent to the Bois Brule Campground, near the Village of Brule. It is one of 10 designated canoe landings on the Bois Brule River. Drinking water and rest rooms are available in the campground. Visitors must have a vehicle admission sticker on their vehicle when using this picnic area.

The St. Croix Picnic Area is located on St. Croix Lake, near the village of Solon Springs. The area includes drinking water, rest rooms, a boat launch and parking for the North Country Scenic Trail and Historic Brule to St. Croix Portage Hiking Trail.

Swimming Swimming

The forest has no designated swimming beaches, but some people enjoy swimming at Rush Lake on the eastern edge of the forest, or in the cold waters of Lake Superior at the mouth of the Brule. Both locations have sandy beaches and clear water. Public beaches near the state forest are located on Lake Minnesuing and Lake Nebagamon.

Wildlife viewing Wildlife viewing

Wildlife viewing and photography opportunities abound on the forest. Wildlife diversity is influenced by the variety of northern hardwood habitats that exist on the forest, including wetlands, pine barrens, grasslands, shrub-lands and boreal forest. The diverse terrain and soil types on the forest, as well as the Brule River itself, are responsible for this assortment of habitats.

More than 200 species of birds have been recorded in the Brule River State Forest. Such rare birds as the black-backed woodpecker, white-winged crossbill, merlin, great gray owl and goshawk have been seen and likely nest on the property. Mammals such as the badger, bobcat, fisher and gray wolf can also be found.


Skiing Cross county skiing

Afterhours Ski Trail includes an extensive network of some of the region's finest and best maintained cross-country ski trails for both classical and skate skiing. Various loops provide a variety of terrain suitable for both beginning skiers and those with advanced skills. The scenic Bois Brule River can be seen from the River and White Pine trails. At the trailhead, visitors will find restroom facilities and a warming shelter jointly maintained by the forest and the Brule Valley Ski Club. View map [PDF]. Either an Annual or Daily trail pass is required.

Some ski etiquette and rules to keep in mind:

  • skiers should ski within their own abilities and alert others when passing; control speed on downhill runs and follow the proper direction of the trail;
  • snowmobiles, ATVs, horses and dogs are prohibited on the trail; and
  • do not walk or snowshoe on ski trails.

The Brule River State Forest works in partnership with the Brule Valley Ski Club on trail improvements and ski events such as the Brule River Timber Cruise and River View Loppet Ski Races, the annual Candlelight Ski and Learn to Ski days.

Snowmobile ATV Snowmobiling & ATVing

Snowmobiling is a popular activity on the state forest, with over 30 miles of designated trail. These trails are important links in the regional snowmobile trail system, connecting communities in Douglas and Bayfield counties. The Brule River Riders Snowmobile Club maintains the forest trails with fees collected from snowmobile registration and trail passes.

The Brule-St. Croix Snowmobile Trail (Trail 27 and 27A) connects the parking area on State Highway 27 to St. Croix Lake. Connecting trails link to the trail systems of Bayfield[exit DNR] and Douglas[exit DNR] counties. Snowmobile registration and trail passes are required; please see the DNR's information on the snowmobile trail pass as well as the departments snowmobile regulations.

ATVs may operate on the Brule-St. Croix Snowmobile Trail when it is snow covered and open to snowmobile use. ATVs are prohibited on all other state-owned lands within the forest, including logging roads. Many town roads within Brule, Highland, Cloverland, Lake Nebagamon, and Solon Springs villages and townships are designated ATV routes. Check with local townships and villages for current ordinances.

State law requires those who use Wisconsin ATV trails to display either proof of Wisconsin registration or an ATV trail pass. For more information about operating an ATV in Wisconsin, please visit WDNR ATV Laws.

The opening and closing of snowmobile trails is at the discretion of each county. Snowmobile trails which cross DNR lands are opened and closed consistent with the surrounding county (or counties). Whenever possible, the opening and closing of snowmobile trails is done on a county-wide basis, however localized conditions may require localized trail opening and closing. It is the responsibility of the county to provide notification about the status of snowmobile trails. The Travel Wisconsin Snow Conditions Report [exit DNR], and local club and county snowmobile web pages [exit DNR] and telephone hotlines will provide the most current information.

Last Revised: Wednesday February 03 2016