Recreation > Biking & Hiking Trails
Trails to Explore. St. Germain is home to a spectacular trail system that can be used for many different kinds of activities. Whether you prefer foot power or motors and wheels, St. Germain offers miles of great trails to explore and enjoy. Our trails provide the opportunity to get up close and personal with nature and creates wonderful family memories. Many of St. Germain’s trails offer different levels from the beginner to the most experienced. Lace up your hiking boots, or bring or rent bikes, skis, or snowshoes and enjoy nature at its best.
HEART OF VILAS COUNTY TRAIL SYSTEM
The most used trail is the Heart of Vilas County Trail, also known as the St. Germain Hike and Bike Trail. This 52-mile trail begins in St. Germain and takes you all the way to Mercer. Visitors from around the country come to use this trail and are never disappointed. It is one of the most beautiful paved trail systems in the Midwest. From experienced riders looking for a challenge to beginners still needing training wheels, this trail is sure to please. Order a Heart of the Vilas County Bike Trail Map!
AWASSA PRESERVE AND HIKING TRAIL
This beautiful trail system provides level, shaded trails that wander through a forest of mature oaks, maples and pines. Enjoy one of three trail loops or do all three! This is one of the few wheelchair accessible trails around. The trails are open to walkers, runners and hikers during the spring, summer and fall and during the winter the trails are open to cross-country skiers, snowshoers and starting in 2016, portions of the trail will be open to fat tire bikers! Click here for a Awassa Fat Tire Bike Map.
FERN RIDGE TRAIL
This trail offers a peaceful ambiance in a secluded forest setting. It’s a great trail for those who are new to the hiking experience or learning to snowshoe. Park benches are provided along the trail so you can rest and enjoy the scenery.
SHANNON LAKE TRAIL
Looking for a place to mountain bike, cross-country ski, snowshoe or hike? Shannon Lake is perfect for you. Trails range from 2.3 miles to 7 miles long and are ungroomed which provides more of a challenge than other trails in the area. Shannon Lake is a non-motorized lake so if you take the lake loop you can stop at one of the many benches to appreciate the serenity and beauty of the local wildlife.
Northern Highland–American Legion State Forest: The Northern Highland–American Legion State Forest surrounds St. Germain and provides hikers, bicyclists, snowshoe enthusiasts and cross-country skiers with many miles of secluded woodland trails.
Other Area Trails
St. Germain Bike & Hike Trail
The St. Germain Bike Trail Committee is headed by Committee Chairman Anne Small. Below you will find a brief description and map of our trail as it stands to date. Also outlined is how you can help support our new trail going forward.
The St. Germain Bike and Hike Trail: This 12 mile, family friendly, paved trail runs throughout St. Germain, connecting bicyclists, hikers and birdwatchers with 52 miles of paved Vilas County trails. The trail links St. Germain to the communities of Sayner, Boulder Junction, Manitowish Waters and Mercer. It’s one of the most beautiful paved trail systems in the Midwest and the gentle terrain makes for leisurely walking and pedaling. Ample free parking is available at St. Germain’s Town Park.
The St. Germain Bike and Hike Trail was created to link St. Germain to the trail in the nearby town of Sayner. The trail dovetails into Vilas County’s master plan to make a continuous loop of trails through the entire county. The trail committee was careful to minimize any impact on the area’s top-notch snowmobile trails. The finished trail is a result of successful cooperation between a number of organizations; including the Department of Transportation, Wisconsin Valley Improvement Corporation, Northland Pines School District, Town Board of St. Germain, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Bo-Boen Snowmobile Club, and St. Germain Area Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
This 12 mile paved bicycle trail can be accessed at the Bike & Hike Park behind the St. Germain Chamber of Commerce (Highways 70 & 155). From that point the trail leads west 8 miles along Highway 70 to County Highway C, and north along County Highway C to Plum Creek Avenue. A new 4 mile section of trail extends east from the Bike & Hike Park through the downtown area and then traverses a scenic section of Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest Land to a parking lot across from South Bay Road and further west to a parking area on Old Highway 70.
The trail is designed with three things in mind: 1) Improve Safety for non motorized transportation; 2) Offer local residents another recreational benefit to this town; and 3) Offer vacationers that visit this area another reason to enjoy this area.
Partnering for the future
The Bike and Hike Trail committee is made up of avid snowmobilers. They recognize that every effort must be made with the local snowmobile clubs to interface the new trail with minimal impact to the snowmobile trails. Some efforts include, but are not limited to, keeping the two trail systems separate, not building the new trail on an existing snowmobile trail, using special materials at trail crossings, minimizing tree removal to keep snow cover shaded near the snowmobile trails, keeping the new trail at grade with the existing trails for groomers, and not altering existing grades of the snowmobile trail. Trail crossing locations are still being looked at in an effort to minimize the number of contact points.
The numerous entities had a say in the location of the new trail, and the trail plan may move locations to improve safety, and minimize snowmobile trail contact prior to bid letting. These entities include the Department of Transportation, Wisconsin Valley Improvement Corporation, Northland Pines School District, Town Board of St. Germain, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Bo-Boen Snowmobile Club.
Help our effort!
Your donations are needed. 50% of the cost of Phase I was paid for by grant funding. Roughly 25% of the cost was paid for out of room tax. The remaining 25% was paid for out of donations from good people like your self, and local civic groups. Local civic groups pledged over $40,000.00 to date. The Town Treasurer set up a special town fund to handle donations for construction and maintenance.
Your donations will be used primarily to construct or maintain the trail. A small amount, less than 3%, may be used to pay for fund raising costs such as flyers or web site material. But 92% of donations will be used for construction, and 5% will be held in a town fund for future maintenance. Donations should be made payable to Town of St. Germain Bike and Hike Trail. You can mail these donations to: St. Germain Town Treasurer, PO Box 117, St. Germain, WI 54558.
- Backpacking in the Wisconsin State Park System — Information & links.
- Bicycle Trails — Wisconsin State Park System information & links.
- Hiking in the Wisconsin State Park System — Information & links.
- EEK! Environmental Education for Kids — Electronic magazine for kids. Learn about the great outdoors!
- Great Headwaters Trails (GHT) — Non-profit looking to connect Eagle River to St. Germain, Phelps, Land Lakes thru bike trails.
- Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest Recreational Overview Map — Recreation & facilities map in the NHAL Forest (PDF).
- Oneida County Hiking & Biking Trails (PDF) — Map for hike/bike/ski trails, canoeing routes & birding locations. Click here for detailed Oneida County trail maps.
- Trail Etiquette & Safety — Department of Natural Resources online publication.
- Vilas County Biking Trails — Information and maps for biking trails in Vilas County.
- Vilas County Hiking Trails — Information and maps for hiking trails in Vilas County.
- Vilas Area Silent Sports Association — Organization spearheading the project to connect Vilas County’s towns thru bike trails.