Northwest Wisconsin Nordic Trails
Morgan Falls/St. Peters Dome
Trail Options: Several snowshoe hikes which can be taken individually or combined.
The Morgan Falls area offers several snowshoe hikes which can be taken individually or combined. There is a U.S. Forest Service parking fee at the trail head.
Morgan Falls is a 1.2 mile round trip hike from the parking lot and is an easy hike for everyone in the family. The trail is easily identified and well marked into the falls. Following the creek in, it is relatively flat and except for just a couple of steeper hills as you approach Morgan Falls, it is a brief, easy hike, even in the snow. The falls itself is an elegant cascade, diagonally traversing a 70 foot granite face. In the winter only a trickle of a stream flows in through the frozen falls. For a quick scenic snowshoe jaunt, Morgan Falls is a good choice.
St. Peter?s Dome is an approximately 3.6 mile round trip hike and considerably more difficult. The trail winds and climbs up to approximately 1,600 feet in elevation, which is just about as high as it gets in this area. On a clear day one can see Lake Superior over 20 miles to the north. The trail into St. Peter?s Dome branches off the Morgan Falls trail. It crosses the creek and rises and rolls through mostly second growth hardwood forest with occasional large pine and hemlock. It is a narrow and sometimes rocky trail, which in the snow shouldn?t present much of a problem. The final pitch is steep enough to warrant a couple of switch backs, but when you do reach the top, the view is terrific.
Canyon Creek offers a truly adventuresome experience for the more seasoned back country snowshoer. It is one of the best kept secrets in this area, and follows neither of these trails. In fact, it doesn?t follow a trail at all. Though it doesn?t really require expert map and compass skills to enjoy this journey, you should be comfortable traveling where there are no marked trails. This point-to-point hike is a little over three miles and shouldn?t be undertaken until mid-winter or later when the lakes, creeks, and wetland areas have had ample opportunity to freeze.
Begin this trek like the others at the Morgan Falls trail head. Instead of following the trail, however, veer to the north for a brief bushwhack of about 200 to 300 yards. Your objective is the frozen flowage of Morgan Creek, created by beaver dams and extending almost a half mile to the east. The flowage is no more than an eighth of a mile wide and easy to follow by hiking parallel the south (right) shore.
The flowage begins to narrow as you reach the eastern end and soon all that remains is Canyon Creek, a small easy flowing stream. Shortly after leaving the flowage, you come to a snowmobile trail. Cross the snowmobile trail, then veer slightly to the southeast. In only a hundred yards or so there is a steep gully which takes you up to the base of a ridge and a series of huge ice formations created by ground water seeping out the side of the hillside.
Though you can?t see it, you are now passing beneath St. Peter?s Dome far above you. After pausing for a few photos, resume your trek by traversing a fairly steep hill to return back to the valley.
Continue following an easterly tack which now takes you alternately through a series of beaver dammed creeks and the narrow bed of Canyon Creek. The creek continues to accompany you, though it occasionally widens due to beaver dams, as the canyon meanders between the high ridge of St. Peter?s Dome to the south and a lesser ridge to the north. It is generally quite easy going through this area and getting lost really is not an option because you are essentially walled in. There are occasional logs or other obstacles to maneuver around, but for the most part, other than clumps of marsh grass, it is smooth sailing.
As the canyon section comes to a conclusion, your route resumes following Canyon Creek. After one final and perhaps the largest beaver dam encountered thus far, you must cross the swamp to the northeast (hug the left edge of the swamp) and continue through a wooded area. In just a few minutes you come out on Forest Road 187 and your journey is at an end.
Although it is only about a three mile snowshoe up the valley, this type of trip is probably not for someone who is uncomfortable with unmarked trails. It is not likely you would get lost, but having a compass and map of the area is advisable. But what makes this trek so enjoyable (besides its obvious natural beauty) is the fact that you cannot get to see this area at any other time of the year because it is, after all, a wetland area and there just are not any trails through it. For the adventuresome seeking some truly unique winter northwoods scenery, snowshoeing the Canyon Creek valley will definitely make your day.
Veikko Trail. Finally there?s the Veikko Trail, about .25 mile up the road from the Morgan Falls parking lot, an easy/intermediate 3 mile snowshoe hike. It is a point-to-point trail, so you will need to either spot a car at the other end or plan to hike out and back. The terrain is rolling with only a couple of steep climbs. Along the way there are occasional scenic overlooks (unmarked) from which you can peer out into the Canyon Creek valley below. The hike is not difficult and it is a very obvious and marked trail.
Another option is to use the Veikko Trail as the return route after hiking the Canyon Creek valley. Approximately .25 mile to the north from where you exit the woods onto Forest Road 187 after hiking Canyon Creek is the parking lot for the Veikko Trail. This would be the place to spot a car if you only want to do a one-way snowshoe hike. If you want to make the return trip, go left and hike up the road to the parking lot and follow the ski trail back into the woods. It is another 3 miles back down the ski trail to near where you began. The Veikko Trail is also an ungroomed back country ski trail, so you might encounter skiers. The total roundtrip distance for the Canyon Creek/Veikko Trail hike is 6 miles.
Fat bikes Permitted
Click Map to enlarge
|From Cable drive north on Hwy 63 for 22 miles to Cty. Hwy. E. Turn right on E and drive 5 miles to County Line Road. Turn right (south) on County Line Road and drive 4.2 miles to the parking lot.|
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.