Make today an adventure day kind of today. Below are ten beautiful hikes to enjoy in Bayfield County, which of course includes the beautiful Boreal Forest trail system within Brickyard Creek.
Bayfield County offers an endless array of ways to nurture the mind, body, and soul. As John Muir once said,
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.”
Below are ten unique hiking opportunities recommended by your friends and neighbors at Brickyard Creek.
Before we delve into all the hiking opportunities in the city and county of Bayfield, we encourage you to explore the Boreal Forest and trail system right here in Brickyard Creek!
Hiking Brickyard Creek’s Nature Trails
The Brickyard Creek Community hosts a network of nature trails which offer our residents and guests access to Brickyard Creek and the surrounding boreal forest. Along the creek, there are benches, listening points/spots, and signs identifying the boreal forest trees and other flora.
In partnership with the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, an Interpretive Trail Guide has been prepared and will be available at the trailhead kiosk. The guide is keyed to signage along the way and provides rich information about trees and vegetation in the forest.
This “system” consists of 1.2 miles of chipped trails but can be extended by walks along the gravel roads of Brickyard into several mile hikes. The trail begins at the trail-head in the Marina parking lot. Just walk down the stairs and over a bridge into the boreal forest following the creek upstream. The trail goes both under and over Brickyard Creek Road and continues west.
There are currently five segments of the trail system.
- The Brickyard Creek segment begins at the marina and ends at the top of the stairs connecting with the Old Rail Trail
- The Old Rail Trail follows a railroad bed from BYC trail to Sophie Lane
- The Gaylord Nelson connects Sophie Lane to Madeline Lane
- The Aldo Leopold joins Madeline Lane to Old Rail Trail-head
- The Sigurd Olson crosses the creek at the bridge from the BYC trail and, after a steep traverse out of the ravine, connects to Olivia Lane
- The Culberson follows Roy’s Point Boulevard from Tucker Road to Brickyard Creek Road (a pleasant and safer alternative to walking down the road)
Signage for these segments will appear in the near future, and plans for expansion of the system are underway.
Hiking Around the City of Bayfield
1. Brownstone Trail: 4.5 miles out and back (Easy)
Directions: The Brownstone Trail begins near downtown Bayfield on South 3rd Street behind the DNR building (a block south of the lumber yard).
This trail follows an old railroad bed high above Lake Superior from Bayfield to the marinas in Pike’s Bay. This is an easy walk or bike ride that offers consistent views of the lake and the distant islands. A bypass around Blue Wing Bay takes you through an old apple orchid, across a road, and back to the railroad grade. The trail continues south through ample tree cover until it emerges onto a blacktopped road. At the uphill curve, a narrow footpath leads to the end of the trail at Pike’s Bay.
Highlights: Cliffs with views of Madeline and Long Islands, a former brownstone quarry, railroad history markers, an old apple orchid, and spectacular autumn colors. This trail is always an enjoyable hike for guests of Bayfield.
Tip: Cring along a book and pause to read high on the cliffs overlooking the lake.
2. The Big Ravine Trail: 2.5 miles round trip (Rigorous)
Directions: From downtown Bayfield, follow 4th Street uphill to the Bayfield School. Turn left on Sweeny and park in the lot next to the baseball field. The trail begins behind the outfield fence (on the right).
A posted trail map is displayed to plan your hike. The primary trail is a steady uphill hike along the edge of the big ravine to the orchid region of Bayfield. The path quickly enters a dense mixed forest with old growth hemlocks thriving on steep slopes of the ravine. The bypass on the overlook trail is worth the view of Lake Superior, Madeline Island and the Porcupine Mountains in the far distance. The trail ends near a farmhouse with an orchid. At this point, retrace your steps or choose from several loops shown on the signpost. Eventually, the various trails lead back to the main route and the parking lot at the school.
Highlights: The big ravine, old growth hemlock, outcroppings with views of Lake Superior, an orchid, a quiet pond, and solitude near town. You will get an aerobic workout on this hike.
Tip: This is a great trail to walk your dog(s) and snowshoe in the winter.
Hiking In Bayfield County
3. Friendly Valley Beach (Easy)
Directions: Take Hwy. 13 South 10.3 miles to Friendly Valley Road. Turn left and park. Restrooms and picnic tables are available at the parking lot.
Spend a day at this beautiful sandy beach bathing, walking, and picnicking. The beach is ‘bookended’ by the two mouths of the Onion River, and the walk is about 2.5 miles forth and back. Excellent views of Bayfield, and the islands.
Tip: If you’re hiking with kids, expect them to be drawn to the lake, even if the temps require a winter stocking cap!
4. Jerry Jay Jolly Trail System: 6 miles of loop trails (Moderate with rigorous sections)
Directions: From Bayfield, take Hwy 13 South one-half mile to County J. Turn right and go 1.3 miles to the 4-way stop. Continue straight on Star Route for 2.3 miles to the Jerry Jolly/Pike’s Creek parking lot on the left-hand side of the road.
The trail-head offers a large map of the extensive network of trails that wind through over one thousand acres of Bayfield County Forest, the Nourse Sugarbush State Natural Area, and the Mt. Ashawabay Recreational Area. Please note that the map is orientated to the north, but you are facing south. The hike begins on a ski trail that starts level until taking a dramatic hill down to Pike’s Creek (please remember this steep climb is the only way back to your vehicle). The trail then follows the creek to a steel bridge that enjoys fantastic views downstream. Just beyond the bridge on the left side is a single track hiking path that follows the other side of the creek before ascending out of the deep ravine to rejoin the ski trail. The ski trails are well posted and mowed several times throughout the summer.
Highlights: Pike’s Creek, an extensive network of trails that connects with Mt. Ashawabay, wildlife, and solitude
Tip: Bring plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.
5. Houghton Falls Nature Preserve: 1.5 miles round trip (Easy)
Directions: Drive 9 miles south of Bayfield on Hwy 13. Turn left on Houghton Falls Road and travel one-half mile east to Houghton Falls Nature Preserve parking lot.
What this hike lacks in distance it makes up in natural beauty. A narrow trail leads into a dense forest, and a short walk to a riverbed area call Echo Dells. Complete with falls, pools, and gravel beds, this is an excellent place to pause and explore. Further on there is a bridge crossing and several paths that lead to Houghton Point. Take the trail on the right to walk through small stands of huge old growth red pines and hemlocks. The hike ends on a rock formation that protrudes out into Lake Superior. Return via the same route.
Highlights: Echo Dells, falls, and Lake Superior views
Tip: Houghton Point is a great place to picnic, swim, or read a book. In other words, this is a beautiful place to linger.
The picturesque waterfalls, brownstone ledges, and hemlock in Houghton Falls State Nature Preserve continues to inspire members of our community. The summer of 2018, the Brickyard Creek donated funds toward a new trailhead for the nature preserve. You can also find community members volunteering time on trail maintenance!
Want a hands-on experience in Bayfield too? Click here for current opportunities.
Be sure to check out our list of the top three waterfall hikes in Bayfield: Let’s Go Waterfalling!
6. Long Lake Trail: 1.2-mile loop around Long Lake in the Chequamegon National Forest (Easy)
Directions: From Bayfield, drive south on Hwy 13 through Washburn and an additional 2 miles to Wannabo Road. Turn right and drive 5.6 miles to the Long Lake picnic area. Note: Parking charge of $5 daily or $20 yearly (sticker available at the National Forest Office in Washburn).
This woodland trail begins at either end of the picnic area and closely follows the lake. Several benches with lake views provide a quiet place to relax. The trail is narrow in spots with a few roots and rocks, but overall, it is an easy and idyllic walk.
Highlights: picnic grounds, sandy beach, swimming, and Long Lake views
Tip: A great place to swim early in the season when the big lake is still too cold.
7. Meyers Beach Lakeshore Trail: 4-mile round trip to sea caves, 9-mile round trip to end of the trail (Strenuous hike that requires sturdy footwear)
Directions: Follow Hwy 13 North from Bayfield toward Cornucopia for 18 miles. Turn right on Meyers Beach Road (2 miles before Cornucopia) and park in the day use lot. Note: Parking charge of $3 daily or $15 yearly (stickers available at National Park Service building located on Washington Avenue in downtown Bayfield).
The rugged narrow trail leads to rocky cliffs with stunning views of the mainland sea caves. Hiking to the overlooks requires crossing a dozen steams and ravines. A few of these are bridged, but most entail agile footwork to descend into and out of the creek beds. Be sure to peer into “the chasm” from the bridge area and then hike beyond the promontory for rewarding views of the caves, Eagle Island, and Minnesota’s Northshore. Note: while the views from this area are spectacular, it does demand attention to safety. Some of the ledges are undercut and unstable.
Highlights: Hiking through boreal forest, the mainland sea caves, peering over the high cliffs, and Lake Superior views. Watch for bears!!!
Tip: At 0.7 of a mile from the parking lot the trail crosses Mawikwe Road. This is a good spot to access Meyer’s beach (follow the narrow path towards the lake) for a swim or a shore lunch. Note: the beach extends all the way back to the parking lot if another route is desirable.
8. Lost Creek Falls (Easy to rigorous)
Directions: This is a bit tricky to find, so it might be good to go with someone who has done it. But for the adventurous, go about 1.5 miles north of Cornucopia on Hwy 13. Turn left on Klemik Road which is a gravel road. Go roughly another mile and slow down, looking to the left for a blue metal gate 30-40 yards back into the brush. Park your car on the side of the road. Proceed past the gate, and you are on your way. You will cross a bridge and, bye and bye, the fire lane will become a hiking path. As you begin to climb, look for a narrow fork to the right. That will take you to the base of the falls. If you miss that, it’s not a problem. The road takes you to the top of the falls. Just listen for it. Hike into a waterfall that you can trek across large rocks to walk under the waterfall. Well worth the price of admission
Easy to medium trail, but it gets muddy at spots. Takes 45 minutes to 1 hour, one way.
Tip: Flip flops are not recommended.
9. Mt. Ashawabay Ski Area: distances vary (easy to rigorous)
Directions: Take Hwy 13 south of Bayfield 3 miles to Ski Hill Road. Turn right and continue to Mt. Ashawabay Recreational Area parking lot. This is also the summer home of the Big Top Chautauqua.
A range of hiking opportunities on cross-country trails around Mt. Ashawabay offer scenic hikes and a stunning view from the top of the hill. Please note that there are several hiking loops that can be planned at posted maps throughout the trail system. On the left side of the parking lot (behind the big top tent) are the Raven and Dear Path trails. These paths wind uphill through stands of large maple, birch and oak trees, eventually leading to the top of the ski hill and a spectacular view of the Apostle Islands and the surrounding countryside. To the right of the parking lot are the fairly level Sugarbush and Anchor trails that lead out to the Nourse Sugarbush State Natural Area. This section is known for its amazing stands of old growth maple and hemlock. It also connects with the Jerry Jay Jolly Trail System.
Highlights: hike through an old growth hardwood forest, commanding views from the top of Mt. Ashawabay, a peek inside the sugar shack where maple syrup is produced, and the opportunity for long day hikes.
Tip: On a sunny autumn day pack locally produced Bayfield wine, cheese, bread, and fruit for an unforgettable picnic at the top of Mt. Ashawabay.
10. Valhalla Trails: 7 trails of various lengths (moderate)
Directions: From Bayfield, travel south on Hwy 13 to County Road C in Washburn. Turn right and go eleven miles to the Valhalla parking lot on the left-hand side of the road. Note: Parking charge of $5 daily or $20 yearly (stickers available at the National Forest Office in Washburn).
A cross-country ski map in the parking area will give you difficulty ratings and distances for both the Valkyrie and Teutonic trails systems. These are wide and hilly trails through the Chequamegon National Forest that offer an aerobic workout.
Highlights: extensive trail system, option to mountain bike or hike
Tip: Yearly sticker is good from April 1 to March 31
Share Your Favorite Spot to Adventure When Hiking in Bayfield Wisconsin
Whether you’re a long-standing member of the community or a guest visiting for a weekend, if you’re staying at Brickyard Creek we consider you a Boreal Forest Citizen.
Have we missed one of YOUR favorite places to hike in Bayfield?
Let us know! Share a brief write-up with the BYC Manager, Jeffery Garrett so we can include them in this community resource!