Hiking & Birdwatching

Rusk County Hiking and Birdwatching Opportunities

Rusk County’s numerous wilderness areas, trails and wild rivers provide endless birdwatching opportunities. Pileated woodpeckers, bald eagles, osprey, common loons, hooded mergansers, wood ducks, kingfishers, warblers and hummingbirds are just a few of the species you’ll have a chance to see in the woodlands and wetlands of Rusk County. Areas of particular interest include Sobieski Flowage, home to a wide variety of upland game birds and waterfowl, and the Blue Hills area, which offers waterfowl and migratory birds. Binoculars can be checked out at the Rusk County Visitor Center.

The Blue Hills Trail System

Some of Rusk County’s finest silent sports opportunities can be found in the Blue Hills. The Blue Hills, located in northwestern Rusk County, are remnants of a mountain range older than both the Rockies and the Appalachians. The picturesque area gets its name from the beautiful bluish color the hills take on when seen through the morning mist. In terms of outdoor recreation and wildlife viewing, the Blue Hills are one of Wisconsin’s best-kept secrets. This 23-mile trail system provides excellent hiking and wildlife viewing opportunities. The west side of the system is densely wooded. The eastern half is more open and provides excellent views of the landscape. Highlights of this unique area include felsenmeers – unusual jagged rock formations formed by the glaciers. The trailhead for the Blue Hills Trail System is on the east side of Fire Lane Road, just two and a half miles north of Hwy O. Learn more.

Flambeau Reclaimed Mine Site Trails

Five miles of hiking and biking trails run through this former mine site. You’ll find excellent areas for bird watching and appreciating nature. The trails are relatively flat. Located one mile south of Ladysmith on Highway 27.

Ice Age Trail

The Ice Age Trail follows the southern boundary of the most recent glacier to invade Wisconsin about 12,000 years ago. The portions of the Ice Age Trail that run through Rusk County feature a number of truly unique rock formations, including felsenmeers, consisting of expansive fields of jagged rocks. The trailhead for the Ice Age Trail in Rusk County Forest is located near Murphy Flowage Recreational Area in the northwestern portion of Rusk County. Learn more.

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Riverview Trail

This trail in Ladysmith runs along the Flambeau River and is part of the Ladysmith parks system. It’s a great location for a sunrise or sunset birdwatching excursion. The trail is located between Highway 27 and County Road G.

Wetland Walkway

Hike this small but scenic hiking trail built by the Environmental Challenge in 2003. The walkway is located between Ladysmith’s O.J. Falge Park and the Rusk County Visitor’s Center.

Sisters’ Farm Trail System

The Sisters’ Farm Trail System offers some of the best mountain biking and cross-country skiing in the area. But the trail is also an outstanding destination for hiking and birdwatching, taking visitors through a variety of bird habitats and along the Flambeau River. Waterfowl, bald eagles and wading birds are frequent visitors to the area. The trail is located southwest of Ladysmith. See trail map.

Hunter Walking Trails

Rusk County Forest lands are home to a number of trails designed for game-bird hunting. These trails are excellent for birdwatching and nature hikes. Maps are available at the Visitors Center and at the County Forestry Office.

Greenwood Park

Undeveloped park in Ladysmith with a 1/3 mile trail running through it. See deer, birds and even an occasional bear.

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