Vacation Itinerary

Seven Days of Outdoor Adventures in Rusk County, Wisconsin

Unwind Your Mind  with an outdoor adventure in Rusk County, Wisconsin. Offering four paddling rivers, dozens of recreational trails and an abundance of untouched wilderness, Rusk County is the Ideal vacation destination for enjoying the outdoors. The area’s lakes and rivers offer outstanding fishing for panfish, walleye, bass and musky.

A friendly, small-town atmosphere pervades all the communities of Rusk County. If you’re looking to relax and truly unwind on your vacation, Rusk County is a fantastic choice.

One of the most attractive features of a Rusk County vacation is affordability. Rusk County’s resorts, motels, campgrounds, cabins, cafés, supper clubs, shops and retailers represent some of the best bargains in the Midwest. The estimated cost for a couple vacationing for one week in Rusk County is between $600 and $750. For a family of four, the estimated cost would be $700 to $900. That’s an incredible vacation value!

Let’s look at what a week in Rusk County might look like.

Day 1: Arrive in Rusk County

Afternoon: Stop by the Visitors Center and then check into your lodging. Your first stop in Rusk County should be the Visitors Center in Ladysmith, where you’ll find maps and other useful information about activities, attractions and special events. The Visitor Center also has GPS units available for geocaching and binoculars for birdwatching. After that, check into your lodging. Choose from more than two dozen Rusk County lodging establishments. From resorts and lodges to motels and campgrounds, Rusk County has overnight options to fit your style and budget. For a complete list of Rusk County lodging choices, see Hotels and Resorts, Campgrounds, Bed & Breakfasts, or Inns and Cabins.

Day 2: Hit the trails

Morning: Bicycling at Sisters’ Farm Trail. Set on the banks of the Flambeau River, Sisters’ Farm Trail offers twelve kilometers of single and multi-track mountain bicycling. Enjoy views of the Flambeau as you pedal this top-notch mountain biking trail system. The trail is located just southwest of the City of Ladysmith.

Afternoon: Bicycling or Hiking the Blue Hills Trail System. This 20+mile trail system is the perfect way to experience the natural beauty of Rusk County’s Blue Hills. The hills take their name from the blue color the lush tree-covered hills take on when viewed through the morning mist. The trailhead is located on the east side of Fire Lane Road, 2.5 miles north of the road’s intersection with County Highway O. The West side trails are more suitable for off-road mountain or fat tire biking, while the East side trails are great for a hike.

Evening: Railroad History. After dinner, we’ll take a stroll through Ladysmith and see the historic railroad displays. You’ll find “Old Smoky” at the intersection of Lake Avenue and Highway 8. An engine and several rail cars are located south on Highway 27, two blocks south of Highway 8.

Day 3: Scenic Hiking Trails

Morning: Hiking the Former Flambeau Mine Site. Five miles of hiking and biking trails run through this former mine site. You’ll find excellent areas for birdwatching and appreciating nature. Trails are relatively flat. Located one mile south of Ladysmith on Highway 27.

Afternoon: Geocaching. Rusk County is fantastic geocaching destination, offering great scenery and dozens of caches. For those who have never geocached before, geocaching is a treasure hunting game in which players find hidden caches using just coordinates and a handheld GPS unit. Geocaching is a great way for people of all ages to have fun together in the outdoors.

Evening: Stroll along the Riverview Trail. This short, scenic trail in Ladysmith runs along the Flambeau River and is part of the Ladysmith parks system. The trail is located between Highway 27 and County Road G. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing stroll.

Day 4: Flambeau River Fishing

All day: Smallmouth Fishing on the Flambeau River. Rusk County is truly blessed when it comes to fishing opportunities, offering 250 lakes and 140 miles of rivers and streams. The Flambeau, Chippewa, Jump and Thornapple Rivers are all great fishing destinations for walleye, musky and smallmouth bass. Nearby Lake Holcombe is one of the top musky lakes in Wisconsin, with more than 120 miles of shoreline and 4,000 acres of open water. Brook trout inhabit many of the area’s streams.

For today’s outing we’ll hire a local fishing guide and try to catch some of the Flambeau River’s trophy smallmouth. The Flambeau River at Ladysmith is one of the most exciting smallmouth destinations in the Midwest. You’ll find good numbers of really big smallmouth both upstream and downstream from town.

Day 5: Jump River Adventure

All day: Paddling the Jump River. With so many miles of outstanding river ways, it’s hard to pick on single place to go paddling in Rusk County. The Flambeau River is a classic Northwoods paddling trip, offering both whitewater and quiet stretches. The Chippewa is a big river with many scenic stretches offering not only beautiful scenery but also outstanding history. The Thornapple River, which runs through some of Wisconsin’s wildest forestland, is a true gem.

The Jump River, with its rocky riffles and its free-flowing waters, is a truly unforgettable trip. We’ll put in at Highway 73 and paddle the 7 miles to Sheldon. From there, we’ll continue on to Lake Holcombe. Along the way, we’ll find several stretches of exciting whitewater. Click her for more information for planning your paddling trip.

Day 6: Wilderness Birding

All day: Birdwatching and Paddling the Thornapple River. Now that we’ve gotten our paddling skills in order, we’ll take a paddle down the Thornapple River. We’ll launch at Highway 27 and travel downstream to Bruce. The backwaters of the Thornapple are an important nesting area for both wood ducks and hooded mergansers. Bald eagles, ospreys, pileated woodpeckers, kingfishers, blue herons and ravens are just a few of the birds you’ll have a chance of seeing. Be sure to check with the Visitor Center before launching — there are times of the year when the Thornapple River has low water and can be difficult for paddling.

Day 7: Last Day on the Trails

The Flambeau River State Forest offers 14 miles of mountain biking trail. Riding these rugged trails through a forest of hemlock, birch and white pine is the perfect way to spend our last day in Rusk County.

Afternoon: Shopping. Ladysmith offers a number of unique shops. Stop by the Village Parlor Coffee House & Gift Shop for home décor, jewelry, lodge items and more.  Just west of Ladysmith you’ll find Maple Hill Farm, an on-farm store featuring handmade local items, sheep milk cheeses, lotions and candles.   A short drive south of Ladysmith on Hwy 27 takes you to the Silver Bear, offering an assortment of gifts, cabin interiors and camping supplies. And save time to visit Artisans Outlet in Glen Flora, offering excellent deals and discounts on a huge selection of items. In addition to clothing, you’ll find candles, seasonal décor, jewelry, birdhouses, wooden signs, greeting cards and fabric remnants.

Time to head home—See you next time in Rusk County!

Order your free, full-color copy of the Rusk County Visitor Guide.