What a difference a week makes. Last weekend I was hiking in 90 degree heat and this weekend temps were in the low to mid 50’s with a cold wind. Ya gotta love Wisconsin; it’s certainly never boring.
I hiked the Hemlock Creek segment yesterday and found it to be a wonderful and diverse experience. From a rookery on the northern end to a scenic stroll along Hemlock Creek on the southern end, this segment is a pleasure to hike. Also, if you include the CR walk on the northern end between this segment and the Tuscobia segment like I did, you end up hiking in 3 different counties on just one hike. The hike begins in Rusk County on the southern end, passes into and through Barron county as you head northwest and then enters Washburn County during the CR portion on the northern end.
The insect experience was a mixed bag on this hike. The deer flies that I expected to see after last weekend’s hike were not there; maybe it was too cold for them? The mosquitoes were hit and miss depending on where I was. Sometimes when I stopped to take a picture, I didn’t see any, and other times there was a swarm around me as soon as I stopped. The ticks are still out there. I found two of them on my hiking pants after I finished the hike, in spite of the permethrin. None made it to my skin, however. Tucking your pant legs inside your socks or wearing gaiters to prevent the ticks from getting under your pants is really important. You can tell as you look at the pictures that this is prime time for tick vegetation so be smart.
Here is a map of the area:
Parking and restrooms are available in the lot at the southern end of the segment in the Murphy Flowage Recreation Area. There is also parking available where the trail crosses Bolger Road. I did not use either of those. Instead, I parked at the northern end of the CR that connects this segment to the Tuscobia Segment. Featherstone Road runs west off of Loch Lomond Blvd. here and has ample parking along its edges. I parked there and then rode my bike to the Murphy Flowage Recreation Area at the southern end of the segment and then hiked the segment and the CR back northwest to my vehicle. This bike ride route is a bit convoluted because you have to first ride north up to the town of Birchwood to catch roads that will take you over to County Highway F and then back south to the recreation area. The route is State Highway 48 north to West Park Avenue just before the town of Birchwood which you take a right on. Take it one block east and the turn right (south) on Vance Road. Take Vance 2 blocks and turn left (east) on Cedar Avenue which will take you all the way out to County Highway F. Take a right (south) on F and take it all the way down to the Murphy Flowage Recreation Area (9.6 miles).
The trail begins at this sign in the recreation area:
and heads across this grassy area to the gate ahead:
Just beyond the gate it immediately crosses Hemlock Creek on an old road bridge:
and then turns left as a single track at this sign:
For the first 1.5 miles or so the trail travels along the north side of Hemlock Creek with a few wetland crossings and some nice views of the stream and wetland areas:
These are some of the best directional signs that I’ve seen anywhere on the trail!
From here the trail heads into the undergrowth for a while
and eventually reaches Bolger Road where you find another very nice sign:
The western terminus distance caused me to pause. I really am making progress!! After next weekend’s hike I’ll have less than 100 miles left. In last weekend’s blog I credited the thru-hikers for their mental toughness but segment hikers also require their own brand of tenacity. I am spending 8 hours to drive more than 500 miles every weekend right now just to travel to and from the segments to be able to do these hikes. Add to that the time required to figure out the logistics for each hike, where and how to get some sleep and, finally, how to balance all of this with work and family responsibilities; well, this is no small accomplishment. And yet, I will miss it terribly when I am done.
Shortly after crossing Bolger Road (BTW, Bolger Road – Wizard of Oz anybody?) the trail enters Barron County and climbs a large ridge with nice hiking and even more views of streams along the way:
Just a couple of mile from its northern end, the trail reaches the rookery, which is a former but now abandoned blue heron nesting area that now serves as a nesting are for osprey. Here is a picture from the southern end of this area:
and from the western side:
and finally from the best viewing area; its northwest corner:
the boardwalk that takes you across the wet area northwest of the rookery:
From here the trail takes a fairly straight course on old logging roads to it northern terminus:
A nice stream cuts across the trail:
Near its northern end the trail crosses Pigeon Creek on this bridge. If you look closely, you can see the gravel road in the distance that begins the CR walk at the end of this segment::
The gravel road that begins the CR walk is Finohorn Road:
Take Finohorn Road just a couple of hundred yards to it intersection with Loch Lomond Blvd. and turn right:
Loch Lomond Blvd:
After just over 2 miles you reach this intersection with Featherstone Road on the left. This is the end of the CR. The trail leaves Loch Lomond Blvd. and heads west from here:
With this hike I have now completed the segments that lie within the 34 miles of trail that runs through Rusk County. As I head west now from here, the trail will be sharing time between Washburn and Barron Counties.
Weather – Cool and cloudy with temps in the low to mid fifties
Miles covered today – 8.6
Miles covered to date – 986.2
Miles remaining – 108.1