Trail Details

Northwest Wisconsin Nordic Trails

Afterhours/Brule River State Forest Ski Trails

Brule, Wis.

Trail Options:   Entry Loop-1.5km - Easy; Oak Trail; 3.5km - Easy; River Trail-2.3 km - Intermediate; Spruce Trail-1 km - Intermediate; White Pine Trail - 4.2 - Intermediate. Snowshoeing permitted on snowshoe trail and backcountry.

Trail Description: Known for conscientious and regular grooming. If you've ever driven US Highway 2 between Superior and Brule you may have passed right by the Afterhours Cross Country Ski Trail without even noticing it. This inauspicious trail system is located on the south side of the highway just west of the (Bois) Brule River in the Brule River State Forest. The area may be known more for its world class trout stream and outstanding canoeing river, but it is also home to very skiable network of Nordic trails. Most of the trails are easy to moderate with only a few challenging uphill climbs and downhill runs, making it a good choice early in the season to loosen up those tight muscles or to regain your ski legs. It's also an excellent place to take the family for a tour. Although the Afterhours trails have been around for some time, since the mid/late 1970s, in fact, it is only recently that the trails have become recognized as a popular skiing option. Much of the credit for this can be attributed to the Brule Valley Ski Club, a small association of local skiers who around 1991 more or less adopted the Afterhours trails to help bring the trail system into the modern era of trail design, grooming, and management. Prior to their involvement the system was basically a loose network of trails on old logging roads with impossible corners and unreliable grooming of marginal quality. The original trails consisted of two sets of classical tracks with a route that was both difficult to find and follow. The grooming at the time in combination with the lay of many of the hill/corner combinations made it a difficult trail to ski. The club appealed to the Brule River State Forest managers to upgrade the trail system to improve both the quality of the trails and the grooming. Today, modern equipment, quality grooming, and consistent snow cover make the Afterhours Trail one of the area's favorites. All trails are groomed for classic skiing and 20 out of 27 km of trails are also groomed for skate skiing.

The Afterhours trail system is comprised of three main interconnected loops which are all accessed by the same entry loop. From the parking lot just off Highway 2 the entry loop begins almost immediately with a steep climb through red pine forest and then quickly descends to a short two-way piece of trail before connecting with the Oak Loop. This access route could be challenging for the novice or beginning skier, but once into the system the rest of the trails are very negotiable for even the less skilled nord. The Oak Loop is a mostly flat, counter-clockwise trail that, as you might guess from its name, takes you primarily through stands of second-growth oak and other hardwoods. The 3.5 km Oak Loop eventually joins with the River Loop and works its way back to what is known as the Main Junction - the point at which all of the trails connect and where a most important convenience facility is located - an outhouse. The River Loop (2.3 km) is the most scenic with wonderful views of the Brule River including an overlook above the Little Joe Rapids. It also has the biggest hills in the system. The smallest trail, the 1 km Spruce Loop, is located in the heart of the trail network and has moderate inclines as it winds through Norway Spruce, white pine, and aspen. There is one additional loop known as the Alternate Loop that connects the Oak And over Loops on what is essentially a town road. Afterhours is subject to the nominal State Trail Pass requirement. The pass is only $5.00 per day or $25.00 per season. This is the same pass required to use any other state trail and can be used on any state trail throughout the year. This is not to be confused with the State Park vehicle sticker which admits you to Wisconsin state parks. You do not need a vehicle sticker to use the Afterhours trails. Trail passes are available on a self-serve basis at the trail head and are also available at the DNR Headquarters office about a mile from the trails. Skiing can usually be expected well into March and even at the Afterhours trails.

Ownership: Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources

Management: Brule River State Forest

Key Partnerships: Brule Vally Ski Club

Facilities: Parking, warming building, pit toilets. Food and lodging nearby.

Fees: Wisconsin State Trail Pass - $25 for annual and $5 Daily.

Info: 715/ 372-5678


Snowshoeing Permitted
Snowshoeing Permitted

Fat bikes Permitted
Fat bikes Permitted

Click Map to enlarge

Snowshoeing Permitted

Fat bikes Permitted

Trail Location


From the south take Hwy 27 from Hayward north to USH 2 in Brule. Turn left/west on USH2. Cross Brule River and take first left. Follow signs to trail head.

Turn-by-Turn Directions Driving Directions to Afterhours/Brule River State Forest Ski Trails

Most Recent trail report

Landmark dates in the history of Nordic Trails in northwest Wisconsin include 1975 when the United States Cross Country Ski Team including Bill Koch — who would later go on to win a silver medal in the 1976 Olympics – came to Telemark to train, 1978 when the first World Cup cross country ski races were held on the Telemark Trails, and also that year the Worldloppet League, an affiliation of international cross country ski marathons, was formed by Tony Wise at Telemark.

After an auspicious beginning, it wasn’t long before the landscape was dotted with Nordic Trails of all sizes and descriptions, most of which continue to offer pleasant and challenging cross country skiing opportunities today.