Bicycling enthusiast Linda Roessl has two-wheeled her way around a lot of bike paths in her lifetime, but one of her favorite spots of all is the Heart of Vilas County Trails in the Sayner-Star Lake area.
Linking the five communities of Sayner, Boulder Junction, Manitowosh Waters, Mercer, and St. Germain, the Heart of Vilas County Trail is 52 miles of paved trails that, according to Linda Roessl, are wonderfully diverse, expertly planned, and very well maintained.
For years Roessl, a member of the Bay View Bike Club in Milwaukee, has organized a trip to the Northwoods for a ride along the Heart of Vilas Trail.
“Honestly, the people who put that trail together really did their homework,” she says. “It’s not just your typical flat trail along an old railroad bed. It’s curvy and swerving and woodsy and adventurous and has all the things you really need.”Linda Roessl
That includes plenty of restrooms and rest stops along the way, all very well marked, she says. “The people in those communities take a lot of pride in maintaining them too,” she says. “I was up there one time and there was a guy on a recumbent bike, riding along and blowing the leaves and pinecones off the trail with a leaf blower,” shares Roessl.
Recognized as a National Recreation Trail, Heart of Vilas winds through the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest. Along the way, bicyclists will pass along the shores of Plum Lake, over bridges crossing crystal clear streams and so much beautiful scenery you’ll have to remind yourself to keep at least one eye on the road ahead.
From Sayner riders head south along 12 miles of trails that’s known by many as the “rollercoaster”, with fun, rolling hills, heading into St. Germain. Head north and you’ll pass Crystal Lake and its popular Campground and see Big Muskellunge Lake and Trout Lake before you get to Boulder Junction. From Boulder Junction you can ride west to Manitowosh Waters.
Mary Debilzen, the owner of the Corner Store in Sayner, says there’s also riding for nearly every kind of bicycle enthusiast. “There are great trails for off-road biking as well as all of the paved trails, and we’ve certainly seen an uptick in the use of e-bikes,” she says. (Please note trails are limited to e-bikes that do not exceed 30 mph.)
Debilzen says that in addition to plenty of rest stops along the way, the connection to five different communities means you never have to go very far to find a place to take a break or enjoy the beauty, great food, and hospitality the Great Northwoods has to offer. She says there are plenty of parking spots that give visiting riders easy access to the trails. “We also have 10 different campgrounds connected to the trail,” she adds. “It’s a great trail for families and for groups of riders.”
“I think the thing I like about it the most is that each part of the trail has its own personality. No matter what your riding preference there’s something there for you.”Mary Debilzen
The Heart of Vilas Bike Trail System’s “Fixtations” are strategically located to help you with any small repairs you might need, equipped with bike tools and a tire pump.
Right in the middle of it all, you’ll find Sayner-Star Lake, which offers everything a biker or casual visitor might need. From Debilzen’s Corner Store, which offers all kinds of support for bikers as well as camping, fishing, and delicious treats, to charming shops like Cre-ate, Traditions, Plum Lake Quilts, and even the Vilas Historical Museum.
For more information on biking and everything else the Sayner-Star Lake area has to offer, go to the Chamber’s website at www.sayner-starlake.org. Request a FREE visitor guide, to start planning a trip to this beautiful northern Wisconsin community.
Begin your Heart of Vilas biking adventure!
Visit biketheheart.org, where you can request a map or download the convenient Map It Vilas County trails app.