Jan 10, 2016

Sawyer County

Snocross Action in Hayward, Wisconsin

By: Sherry Beckman Hayward Lakes Association and Nancy Knutson American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation

Hayward is known for the abundant outdoor opportunities available to residents and visitors alike.  Regardless of the season, there is always something to do either on the water or in the woods.  Plus, there are a great number of festivals, celebrations and opportunities to get out and experience hometown friendliness, good food and memory making fun times.  At this time of year, snowmobiling is front and center on people’s minds.

Snowmobiling in Northwest Wisconsin

Nearly 600 miles of impeccably marked groomed trails meander through the beautiful Chequamegon National Forest, across the 17,000 acre Lake Chippewa Flowage and hundreds of other area lakes.  Our trails give access to 4,000 miles in Northwest, Wisconsin with connectors to Bayfield, Price, Ashland, Washburn and Rusk Counties.  You can ride forever.

With an inviting small town atmosphere, Hayward makes a snowmobile vacation easy and fun.  Annual snowfall is about 60 inches, and the northwoods helps to hold this snow, providing a riding season that runs from mid-December to mid-March.  Twenty-four hour grooming keeps the trails here in top shape.  In fact, the Sawyer County Snowmobile Alliance is the world’s largest owner of grooming equipment. 

The Hayward Lakes region with its rolling hills, hardwood forests, tall pine stands and pristine lakes serves as the hub of the Sawyer County trail system. A journey south from Hayward on Trail 31 takes riders across the frozen Lac Courte Oreilles and along Sand Lake before joining the Tuscobia State Trail just east of Birchwood.

Trails lead in all directions in this scenic region offering unlimited choices. When staying in this area, snowmobiles are the only transportation you will need since almost everything is accessible via snowmobile. Excellent lodging with roaring fireplaces and great food can be found trailside throughout this region.

Relax by a favorite ice hole in a nearby lake, waiting for that “big one” to take your bait.   We are the home of the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame fish museum.  It is the landmark “Shrine to Anglers,” a structure one-half city block long and four and one-half stories tall.  Made of concrete, steel and fiberglass, it was hand-sculpted into the likeness of a leaping muskellunge.  The museum is closed until May, but you can still ride by and see the giant muskie from Trail 20 as you cross Lake Hayward.

 American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation and Birkie Events

Located near Hayward and Cable, Wisconsin, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, is known for its signature American Birkebeiner Ski Marathon held each February. Today, the Birkie brand has grown to encompass a year round lifestyle that provides healthy, active events for thousands of outdoor fitness enthusiasts of all levels. From the iconic Birkie ski race to the Birkie Trail Run & Trek, and Fat Bike Birkie race, the ABSF and the Birkie Trail attract skiers, runners, bikers, trekkers, and hikers, from casual day-trippers to elite superstars. For up to the minute trail conditions, visit www.birkie.com/trail. Ski. Run. Bike. Live!

More than 9,000 skiers and 15,000 spectators come to the Hayward and Cable area for four days to experience the American Birkebeiner ski race in February.  This is an event with a tradition that spans more than four decades.  The “Birkie” is an event with a worldwide focus that brings skiers from 19 countries together in the spirit of camaraderie and competition.

The American Birkebeiner ski race is big business for Hayward, Cable and surrounding communities.  This event brings hundreds of volunteers together to show their community pride. For more info and event listings visit http://www.birkie.com/birch-scroll/

“Fat Bike” Riding 

Northern Wisconsin is known for its natural beauty, old growth forests, and endless miles of hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and biking trails. To go along with the spectacular good times of snowmobiling, ice fishing and the seemingly endless enjoyment found in the Northwoods, “Fat Bike” riding is quickly becoming a prominent activity for the winter outdoor enthusiast.  Historically, once the snow began to fly, bicycles were put away in storage until spring.  But, fat biking is changing all that. These funny-looking bikes with oversized, wide-rimmed, balloon-like tires have transformed winter bike riding in Northern Wisconsin and are gaining traction nationwide. 

What was once thought of as a fad or craze is now said to be the fastest growing bicycle sector with industry leaders like Salsa, Surly, Trek and Borealis offering a wide variety of fat bike frames, sizes and styles for all types of riders.  The sheer number of fat bike manufacturers grew from an estimated 50 in 2013 to over 100 at the end of 2014.  The beauty of the fat bike is that its over-sized tires allow its rider to cruise in all types of conditions including on pavement, sand, trails and even snow.  In winter, whether riding groomed single-track trails, frozen lakes or fresh powder, fat bikes have extended the biking season and added a whole new twist for winter adventurers. 

Wisconsin consistently ranks as one of America's best places to bike and Northern Wisconsin is fast-becoming a destination hot spot for fat bike riders.  In fact, www.singletracks.com ranked the CAMBA trail system in Northern Wisconsin as one of the top 10 in the nation.  It’s no wonder as Wisconsin boasts more than one thousand miles of great off-road bicycling opportunities throughout the state, available by season, and offers riders a wide variety of experiences and terrains. 

The most visible evidence of Northern Wisconsin’s dominance in the fat bike world is the Fat Bike Birkie, hosted each March by the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation (ABSF) on the Birkie Trail near Cable, Wisconsin.  The Fat Bike Birkie is North America’s largest fat bike race.  “While fat biking may have started as a fad, now even major retailers include them in their cycling offerings,” said Ben Popp, ABSF executive director.  “We’re really proud to promote the sport as part of a healthy active lifestyle option and to welcome riders to northern Wisconsin to enjoy the beauty of our Northwoods.” 

On March 5, 2016, 1000 fat bikers from all points north, south, east and west, will descend upon Cable, Wisconsin and take to the Birkie Trail to test their expertise and skill.  While normally groomed exclusively for cross-country skiers, the Birkie Trail is open to fat bikers on both March 4th & 5th for the 45NRTH Fat Bike Birkie, presented by Freewheel Bike.  The Fat Bike Birkie offers both 45K & 22K options, a criterium course for youth and adults, and a camaraderie filled atmosphere where riders of all levels of expertise adventure their way through the woods on their fat bikes.  It is said to be the most fun you can have on two wheels! The race fills fast, however, as of the writing of this article, there were still limited spaces available, interested riders can register at www.Birkie.com/Bike.

Other fat bike enthusiasts and promoters of the sport, include the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA).  The CAMBA off-road bike trail system consists of over 300 miles of marked and mapped routes through the solitude of the beautiful north woods and is quickly becoming the single-track mecca of the Midwest. While the number of fat bike-specific trails continues to grow, high quality trails, like the CAMBA trails, are still relatively few and far between. 

“We are one of the top fat bike destinations in the U.S. and this year we’ll have over 50 miles of groomed fat bike trails,” said Scott Chapin, fat-biker, and co-author of Economic Impact of Silent Sports Enthusiasts.  “It is crystal-clear that the number of riders coming to Northern Wisconsin to ride groomed single-track trails has grown exponentially in recent years.”   

For those interested in trying out a fat bike when visiting the area, several bicycle shops in Hayward and Cable, Wisconsin offer rental options.  Riders can take rental bikes out on groomed single-track trails and see what all the fuss is about.  For more information on fat biking in Northern Wisconsin, visit www.HaywardLakes.com

Whether snowshoeing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, or fat biking, the woods of northern Wisconsin have an adventure-filled experience just waiting for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages.  We hope to see you on the trails sometime soon! 

 Visit us online at www.haywardlakes.com for trail maps, snow conditions, winter events and lodging availability.  1-800-724-2992

Hayward Lakes Visitors and Convention Bureau, Sawyer County, WI USA