Recreation > Biking & Hiking Trails
Trails to Explore. St. Germain is home to the Heart of Vilas County, a paved bike trail covering over 52 miles. This trail runs from St. Germain to Mercer. Along the way you will pedal, walk or run, over gently rolling hills, cross over babbling streams, picnic by crystal clear lakes, see wildlife and enjoy nature’s beauty. This is one of the premier biking trails in Northern Wisconsin and you will definitely not want to miss the opportunity to enjoy the trail.
Fat tire biking is now available in the winter time here in St. Germain! This trail traverses the rolling hills amongst giant pines just north of the Community Park. It is open during the winter season only. The 1.25 mile groomed trail can be accessed behind the St. Germain Elementary School and also by parking near the Community Park Pavilion. The trail is open to both fat tire biking and snowshoeing.
HEART OF VILAS COUNTY TRAIL SYSTEM
The most used trail is the Heart of Vilas County Trail, also known as the St. Germain Hike and Bike Trail. This 52-mile trail begins in St. Germain and takes you all the way to Mercer. Visitors from around the country come to use this trail and are never disappointed. It is one of the most beautiful paved trail systems in the Midwest. From experienced riders looking for a challenge to beginners still needing training wheels, this trail is sure to please. Order a Heart of the Vilas County Bike Trail Map!
AWASSA PRESERVE AND HIKING TRAIL
This scenic trail system provides level, shaded trails that meander through a forest of mature oaks, maples and pines. The 230 acre Awassa Trails forest is owned by the Town of St. Germain and open to the public for hiking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Hiking loops range from 0.9 to 3.5 miles, and two loops are groomed for skiing and snowshoeing. For a quiet woodland experience close to town, this is the perfect trail. You will be in awe at the natural beauty during every season. There are two parking areas for this trail. Your furry friend is welcome if they are on a leash. Click here for a Awassa Fat Tire Bike Map.
FERN RIDGE TRAIL
Are you looking for a relaxing hiking trail? Then this is where you need to be. Take time to reflect in the peaceful ambiance of a secluded forest setting on the ¾ mile loop. Though this trail is short, the many hills will give your legs a good workout! Park benches are provided along the trail for you to sit back and relax and enjoy the splendor of nature’s work. Bring your four-legged friend along to tire them out with you.
SHANNON LAKE TRAIL
This sweet spot is great for hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Shannon Lake is a non-motorized lake ant the trails range from 2.3 to 7 miles long. It is not uncommon to see many different types of wildlife and birds as you enjoy the peaceful trails. Take a book and rest at the lake on a nearby park bench while enjoying the peaceful sound of silence.
Northern Highland–American Legion State Forest: The Northern Highland–American Legion State Forest surrounds St. Germain and provides hikers, bicyclists, snowshoe enthusiasts and cross-country skiers with many miles of secluded woodland trails.
Other Area Trails
St. Germain Bike & Hike Trail
The St. Germain Bike Trail Committee is headed by Committee Chairman Anne Small. Below you will find a brief description and map of our trail as it stands to date. Also outlined is how you can help support our new trail going forward.
The St. Germain Bike and Hike Trail: This 12 mile, family friendly, paved trail runs throughout St. Germain, connecting bicyclists, hikers and birdwatchers with 52 miles of paved Vilas County trails. The trail links St. Germain to the communities of Sayner, Boulder Junction, Manitowish Waters and Mercer. It’s one of the most beautiful paved trail systems in the Midwest and the gentle terrain makes for leisurely walking and pedaling. Ample free parking is available at St. Germain’s Town Park.
The St. Germain Bike and Hike Trail was created to link St. Germain to the trail in the nearby town of Sayner. The trail dovetails into Vilas County’s master plan to make a continuous loop of trails through the entire county. The trail committee was careful to minimize any impact on the area’s top-notch snowmobile trails. The finished trail is a result of successful cooperation between a number of organizations; including the Department of Transportation, Wisconsin Valley Improvement Corporation, Northland Pines School District, Town Board of St. Germain, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Bo-Boen Snowmobile Club, and St. Germain Area Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
This 12 mile paved bicycle trail can be accessed at the Bike & Hike Park behind the St. Germain Chamber of Commerce (Highways 70 & 155). From that point the trail leads west 8 miles along Highway 70 to County Highway C, and north along County Highway C to Plum Creek Avenue. A new 4 mile section of trail extends east from the Bike & Hike Park through the downtown area and then traverses a scenic section of Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest Land to a parking lot across from South Bay Road and further west to a parking area on Old Highway 70.
The trail is designed with three things in mind: 1) Improve Safety for non motorized transportation; 2) Offer local residents another recreational benefit to this town; and 3) Offer vacationers that visit this area another reason to enjoy this area.
Partnering for the future
The Bike and Hike Trail committee is made up of avid snowmobilers. They recognize that every effort must be made with the local snowmobile clubs to interface the new trail with minimal impact to the snowmobile trails. Some efforts include, but are not limited to, keeping the two trail systems separate, not building the new trail on an existing snowmobile trail, using special materials at trail crossings, minimizing tree removal to keep snow cover shaded near the snowmobile trails, keeping the new trail at grade with the existing trails for groomers, and not altering existing grades of the snowmobile trail. Trail crossing locations are still being looked at in an effort to minimize the number of contact points.
The numerous entities had a say in the location of the new trail, and the trail plan may move locations to improve safety, and minimize snowmobile trail contact prior to bid letting. These entities include the Department of Transportation, Wisconsin Valley Improvement Corporation, Northland Pines School District, Town Board of St. Germain, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Bo-Boen Snowmobile Club.
Help our effort!
Your donations are needed. 50% of the cost of Phase I was paid for by grant funding. Roughly 25% of the cost was paid for out of room tax. The remaining 25% was paid for out of donations from good people like your self, and local civic groups. Local civic groups pledged over $40,000.00 to date. The Town Treasurer set up a special town fund to handle donations for construction and maintenance.
Your donations will be used primarily to construct or maintain the trail. A small amount, less than 3%, may be used to pay for fund raising costs such as flyers or web site material. But 92% of donations will be used for construction, and 5% will be held in a town fund for future maintenance. Donations should be made payable to Town of St. Germain Bike and Hike Trail. You can mail these donations to: St. Germain Town Treasurer, PO Box 117, St. Germain, WI 54558.
- Backpacking in the Wisconsin State Park System — Information & links.
- Bicycle Trails — Wisconsin State Park System information & links.
- Hiking in the Wisconsin State Park System — Information & links.
- EEK! Environmental Education for Kids — Electronic magazine for kids. Learn about the great outdoors!
- Great Headwaters Trails (GHT) — Non-profit looking to connect Eagle River to St. Germain, Phelps, Land Lakes thru bike trails.
- Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest — Information on recreational opportinities in the NHAL State Forest. NHAL State Forest Map-North & NHAL State Forest Map-South
- Oneida County Hiking & Biking Trails — Information for hike/bike/ski trails, canoeing routes & birding locations. Click here for detailed information Oneida County silent sports trails.
- Trail Etiquette & Safety — Department of Natural Resources online publication.
- Vilas County Biking Trails — Information and maps for biking trails in Vilas County.
- Vilas County Hiking Trails — Information and maps for hiking trails in Vilas County.
- Vilas Area Silent Sports Association — Organization spearheading the project to connect Vilas County’s towns thru trails. Click here for the proposed county-wide trail plan.