Jul 10, 2015

Stevens Point Area 

By: Melissa Sabel

The Stevens Point area is a recreationalist playground in the heart of central Wisconsin. By land or water, during any season of the year, the Stevens Point area offers expansive outdoor opportunities for recreational enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Fish the diverse waters of the Wisconsin River and its backwaters, including the 6,830-acre Lake DuBay, a hotbed for walleyes, northern pike, muskies and bass. Or paddle the backwaters and sloughs, trout streams and smaller lakes for more variety.

On land, follow one of the many great trails to explore Portage County on foot or by bike. Follow the 26-mile Green Circle Trail that circles around the Stevens Point area and winds along the Wisconsin River, Little Plover River and other tributaries. The Stevens Point area has no shortage of great recreational trails but what makes these trails even better is the ability to connect from one trail system to the next with ease. The fun continues indoors with visits to the distinct breweries, winery and distillery that call this area home.  Explore fresh farmers markets and restaurants with distinct flavors to get a true taste of the Stevens Point area.

Fishing

Many people are unaware of the diverse fishing that the Stevens Point Area has to offer. From the trout streams to the sloughs and backwaters of the Wisconsin River that are ripe with abundant species of fish and wildlife, the area offers some of Wisconsin’s premier angling.

Venture out on one of the many waterways in the Stevens Point Area. More than 40 lakes, an array of rivers, streams, and flowages offer an opportunity to fish. The area gives anglers a variety of opportunities, including attainable muskies, trout, channel catfish, northern pike and panfish. Beyond the rod, wildlife viewing is abundant. Eagles, osprey, deer, wild turkeys, blue herons and other water fowl are dotted along the shorelines.

The Wisconsin River is a diverse location to drop in a line for a wide variety of fish species. Whether exploring the expansive 6,830-acre Lake DuBay (an impoundment of the Wisconsin River), or one of the many backwaters and sloughs, fish are scattered throughout the diverse habitat. Insider Tip: Want to know what the river flow is, and the water temperature? Call 800-775-6404 for river conditions.

Have you tried fly-fishing? The region boasts a wonderful trout stream, the Tomorrow River. Each year, the Frank Hornberg Chapter of Trout Unlimited Club hosts workshops to learn everything you need to know, from fly-tying to casting.

No Boat? No problem. Shoreline fishing is abundant. Try Jordan Pond, Lake Emily and Sunset Lake to start. If you want to fish from a boat, check out boat rentals available at local outfitters, like DuBay Waters. Insider Tip: Handicap Accessible Piers are available at Lake Emily, Stevens Point Flowage (off of Highway HH West), and the River In-Between Flowage (off of West River Drive).

Don’t know where to start? Try a local guide, like Blackwater Fly Fishing, Kenny Wallock’s Professional Guiding or Hooksetters. Looking for more information as well as a map of boat landings and available species of fish in the region? Grab a ‘Fishing Guide & Map’ from the Stevens Point Area Visitor Center at 340 Division Street North, Stevens Point, for more ideas.

SIDEBAR MENTION

The region will be hosting the 2015 Carhartt Bassmaster College Series National Championship, presented by Bass Pro Shops and Outdoor Expo, July 9-11 at Lake DuBay, with up to 90 teams expected to compete. Takeoffs will be held at Tiki Beach Bar and Grill (1126 County Road DB, Mosinee, WI). Daily weigh-ins will be held at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus at Colman Field (2100 Maria Dr., Stevens Point, WI) at 3:00 p.m. The championship will be aired on the ESPNU network.

Hunting

Central Wisconsin offers a mixture of public hunting land, including expansive areas like the

33,000-acre George Mead Wildlife Area, the third-largest wildlife area in the state of Wisconsin, and smaller access points open to hunting, like the Dewey Marsh. The Dewey Marsh, located six miles north of Stevens Point, offers a 319-acre area with a public shooting range and public hunting area adjacent to the Wisconsin DNR’s 6,000-acre Dewey Marsh.  Home to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and the internationally recognized College of Natural Resources program, the region boasts rich hunting lands.

Hiking & Biking Trails to Explore

Get out and enjoy the summer with a hike through one of Portage County’s state natural areas. For families and those with young or inexperienced hikers, start by exploring the New Hope Pines State Natural Area, in eastern Portage County near Sunset Lake. The 173-acre park offers an old logging road winding through the property for hiking. The area features one of the largest and least disturbed northern dry-mesic forests remaining in Central Wisconsin. Add a picnic and a stop at Sunset Lake to round out your day.

For another option, load up the bike and hit the trail in the 33,000-acre George Mead Wildlife Area. Try exploring the Berkhahn Rookery Bicycle Loop that winds along the Berkhahn Flowage and the Little Eau Pleine River. The Mead Wildlife Area, the third largest state wildlife area, offers over 80 miles of trails to explore. Travel west from Stevens Point on Highway 10 West to Highway S North to enter the wildlife area. The Mead Education & Visitors Center is a great place to stop, to learn more before hitting the trails.

For more biking fun hit the Tomorrow River State Trail. The 24-mile trail begins behind the Plover Copps Market, north of Highway B. The trail once a railroad bed, cuts through the rural landscape of eastern Portage County. Outdoor recreational enthusiasts can use the crushed limestone trail for biking, hiking and horseback riding (on an adjacent path) this time of year. Trail Passes are required (State Trail passes are valid) and are available on the trail or at the Portage County Parks Office. 

For the more adventurous riders, detour to Standing Rocks County Park. Located in eastern Portage County, Standing Rocks County Park offers a wide variety of off-road bike trails from beginners to expert cyclists. Parking is available off of Tower Road and Standing Rocks Road, to access the trails. Trails are closed when wet conditions exist. A daily or seasonal trail fee is required.

Looking for something a bit different while exploring? Arm yourself with a local birding guide and a pair of binoculars before heading over to Godfrey & Maybelle Erickson Natural Area. The 5.5-acre park, tucked along the shores of McDill Pond in Kozcizkowski Park, is known for birding with more than 170 species documented. Explore the half-mile trail, which is part of the larger Green Circle Birding Trail.

Don’t miss a stop at the Stevens Point Sculpture Park. Head to the north side of Stevens Point and venture out along the easy ½ mile trail within the park, just south of Zenoff Park. Make the connection between outdoor recreation and the arts, which easily links to the Green Circle Trail (for those looking for a longer distance to explore). While along the trail, watch for new sculptures that were added this year.

Take the family outdoors with a high tech scavenger hunt and try your hand at geocaching. Geocaching locations are plentiful throughout the region, and are found by using GPS-enabled devices to guide you to designated coordinates to locate a hidden item in the nearby area. To find some local spots, ranging in difficulty, visit www.geocaching.com.

Want more options including the Green Circle Trail, Schmeeckle Reserve and the Tomorrow River State Trail? Pick up a ‘Pedal, Paddle, Hike’ Guide from the Stevens Point Area Visitor Center for more ideas.

Paddling

Whether you are a novice or a pro, explore the distinct paddling routes in the area. For families or those with inexperienced paddlers, one of the best routes in the region is along the Plover River from Iverson Park to McDill Pond*. Start in Iverson Park, with easy access off of a pier north of the swimming area, and follow the current south. The route meanders through generally flat water and is an excellent trip for bird watchers in June and July. (Caution: Conditions on the main body of water can become choppy on windy days. Stay away from the Dam by the Business 51 boat landing.  

After picnicking in Bukolt Park, take Highway HH West out of Stevens Point (approximately 4 miles) and you will find a boat landing on the right side of the road. Start there to explore the backwaters of the Wisconsin River*. Wildlife watching is abundant in this area, and there are plenty of places to explore in the sloughs of the river. All channels headed south open into the Stevens Point Flowage and back to the main channel.

(*Two cars may be necessary)  

Don’t have the gear and want to get started? Jump in, by renting your paddling equipment from a local outfitter, like DivePoint Scuba, which rents kayaks. Nature Treks, another local outfitter, provides canoe and kayak rental along with transportation for paddling routes requiring two vehicles. Rentals are also provided by Rusty’s Backwater Saloon along the Wisconsin River.

Many other waterways offer recreational opportunities throughout Portage County including Lake DuBay, Adams Lake, Collins Lake, Lake Emily, Jordon Pond, Sunset Lake, Lake Thomas, Wisconsin River flowages and Little Wolf Creek.

Disc Golf

Grab your discs and hit the disc golf courses throughout the region, including Yulga Park. The Yulga Park disc golf course is well marked and maintained, tucked along the Moses Creek trail segment of the Green Circle Trail on the north side of Stevens Point. While on this course you can enjoy nature, as it’s surrounded by wildlife and woodlands. Note: The course may close in very wet conditions to prevent permanent damage to the ground. Parking can be found off of Torun Road, on Wojcik Memorial Drive, north of the Park. Additional courses are available at Mead Park, Standing Rocks County Park, McDill Pond as well as baskets available at Bluebird Park.

Local Flavor

Explore the tastes of the region on the Central Wisconsin Craft Collective, and celebrate the unique (and tasty!) beers, wines and spirits, handcrafted with care, in the Stevens Point Area.

The Stevens Point Brewery, a local favorite since 1857, is one of the oldest continuously operating breweries in the United States. Schedule a tour to walk through the brew house, aging cellar, bottling house, and warehouse, and watch the history in action, complete with samples.

To explore more Wisconsin flavors, try O’so Brewing Company in Plover. O’so features 40 Wisconsin craft beers on tap in their Tap House, with large viewing windows into the working brewery. Insider Tip: Try a beer served on nitro for an interesting change in texture and flavor.

More local craft beer can be found at Central Waters Brewing Company in Amherst. The brewery is powered by more than 1,000 square feet of solar panels. Insider Tip: If you want a closer look, grab a tour available on most Fridays and Saturdays at 5 p.m., before hitting the Tap Room.

Kozy Yak Brewery (home to Fresar Winery) is the newest brewery addition, located in downtown Rosholt. Tours are available by request during normal business hours (before or after you try a tasty treat of their rotating tap beers and homemade pizza and pretzels).

The newest addition to the Craft Collective is Great Northern Distilling, located in Plover. From local potatoes for its iconic potato vodka to grains and fruit, the distillery is committed to use sustainable sources from within 150-miles. They elevate the cocktail to an art form, in their mixology bar, where you can get a taste before or after a tour.

There is more to explore in the Stevens Point Area. Start planning your getaway, by visiting StevensPointArea.com or call 715-344-2556.