Doering Natural Area
Most of the trails within walking distance of our site are ATV trails — basically narrow roads. So this morning we took a short drive to the Doering Natural Area where there are ski trails which are great places to walk. We ended up hiking about 5 miles from the parking area off Rustic Forest Road 144. Most of the trail was in excellent condition, pine needles, flowers, and views of the lake. We had hoped to do a full loop, but found the part of the trail marked 175-B which would take us from trail 175 to 175A to be boggy, so we continued north and looped back on 175C to 175. We didn’t see a lot of wildlife, but the flowers are amazing: more Fox-and-cubs, water iris, bunchberry, hoary alyssum, lots of milkweed and oxeye daisies, and columbine. It’s nice to be so far north — we are experiencing spring again.
We returned to the parking area via a trail that took us past a restored logging dam. In the 1800s logs were cut around Round Lake, then floated to this dam. The sluices were opened so that the logs could move down to a lower pond area on the South Branch of the Fkambeau River. The sluices were then closed and when a head of water built up behind the dam, they were opened and a pulse of water moved the logs down stream to the next logging dam. This process was continued until the logs reached Chippewa Falls where the largest lumber mill in Wisconsin was located. Logging continued until about 1910 when most of the white pine in the area had been cut.
On our way home we decided to check out the Smiths Rapids campground, but found it was closed for the 2018 season. We enjoyed walking under the covered bridge located right next to it. The bridge is actually a new one, built in 1991.