Quintessential Snowmobilers Weekend
Winter in the North is characterized by stunning frozen landscapes, endless silent sport opportunities, fewer crowds, and the always present buzz of snowmobiles zipping over rivers and through the woods. Snowmobiling is truly a subculture of Northern Wisconsin, with sleds replacing cars for transport, and a trail system that better resembles a perfectly maintained highway system. Manitowish Waters is centrally located in the heart of it all and the perfect place to call home base for the weekend.
For monthly reminders of Northwoods goodness + local happenings, sign up for our newsletter, The Current Collective.
Tips from the Locals
We recommend grabbing a trail map from your local snowmobile club before you go (and use the new app of Vilas County Trails, Map It! if you need it), and paying close attention to signage on the trail as conditions dictate which trails are open (especially over waterways). Here are a few more tips to make your ride more enjoyable:
Pick a destination to ride to, preferably one that has food, to confirm that they are open.
Make sure that the loop is an appropriate distance for all riders.
Don’t snowmobile to dinner for both safety and comfort - who wants to ride when it is dark and cold after a big meal in a warm restaurant?
Trails are very well marked and easy to navigate, but it can be more relaxing to go with a guide - either a professional or someone that is familiar with the trail system.
Wait to have a beer or cocktail until after you are done riding.
With the help of some of our avid snowmobile friends, we have gathered a list of fun snowmobile trips that range from a quick brunch to an overnight adventure in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Note: Trips are listed from shortest to longest and have route suggestions, but feel free to make them your own.
LAzy ace Saloon in manitowish
Jump on your sled for a quick ride up to Lazy Ace Saloon for lunch. This is an easy ride for everyone in the family and their smoked BBQ style menu is sure to fill your belly. We highly recommend the slo roasted shredded turkey + smoked ham sandwiches.
The Outdoorsman in Boulder Junction
Take a leisurely Sunday morning ride through winding woodlands for brunch at The Outdoorsman in Boulder Junction. A great trip for a first timer, you can easily make this loop to one of our favorite places and be home before noon. From Manitowish Waters take the northern route (Trail 2) to Boulder Junction, then switch up the scenery on the way home and take the southern route (Corridor 8) back to Manitowish Waters.
Bent’s Camp in Land ‘O Lakes
A favorite historic destination in all seasons, Bent’s Camp is the perfect place to stop for lunch on a tour of Northern Vilas County. The route has a great variety of trail from winding woodlands and high speed lakes to unplowed county roads and hills as your approach Camp. Once you arrive, enjoy classic Wisconsin cheese curds or pizza for lunch in their cozy lodge, built in 1906. Take the northern route out of Manitowish Waters through Presque Isle to Bent’s Camp, then take a scenic route through Star Lake or go directly through Boulder Junction on the way home.
Bell Chalet in Hurley
Feel the need for speed? Journey West through Springstead and onto the Turtle Flambeau Flowage for wide open spaces with no speed limits. A popular place for drag races, the Flowage is a great place to pass through on your way to the Bell Chalet in Hurley - famous for their pizza and homemade caesar salad. There are also plenty of fun stops for refreshments along the way, including our favorite Chico’s North of the Border in Springstead. This is an out and back trip or you can take a detour through Winchester on your way home. Get the Iron County snowmobile map here.
Eagle River, Wisconsin
Head East toward Eagle River for a day of exciting snowmobile fun. Eagle River is known as the “Snowmobile Capital of the World”, with long-standing events and plenty of snowmobile loving people to live up to the name. Grab a bite to eat at one of their many local restaurants, and perhaps a coffee at Blend (serving Collectivo Coffee!). We suggest a northern route out of Manitowish Waters to get there, with the option of stopping in Land ‘O Lakes. Take a more direct route home by heading through Sayner and Boulder Junction or through St. Germain and Arbor Vitae to stop at the Snowmobile Hall of Fame Museum.
Moose Jaw Lodge in Park Falls
Cruise down miles of pristine trails through one of Wisconsin’s natural wonders - the Chequamegon National Forest. One of the best places to explore no matter what your mode of transportation, however, there is something special about the amount of distance you can cover and places you can see from your sled. Take a break from the cold at Moose Jaw Resort in Park Falls for a little taste of Northwoods history and a delicious, homemade meal. Head Southwest to Springstead and then South into the Forest to Moose Jaw Resort. Continue exploring or head back through Woodruff and point your sled North. Need a Price County Snowmobile Trail Map? Find it here.
Porcupine Mountains + Lake of the Clouds in the U.P.*
A trip for the more ambitious rider with a reward of incredible views and unique perspectives of places often only seen in the summer months. Head North to Lake Gogebic to the Porcupine Mountains (these trails are included in the Manitowish Waters Sno-skeeter map). The forest road to access the Lake of the Clouds scenic lookout (M-107) is only accessible by sled in the winter, so ride to the top and make the short walk to the edge where you will find sweeping views of the lake, mountains, and surrounding area. It is a trip well worth the miles. (*Requires a Michigan Trail Pass)
A sun up to sun down (and then some) trip to the U.P., this is not for the faint of heart. This trip is fueled by incredible views of Lake Superior and fluffy lake effect snow. It is an overnight journey to Houghton, so once you arrive you can settle into the [Michigan Tech] college vibe of this Northern city. If you plan to stay for a couple of days, it is the perfect home base for exploring the Keweenaw Peninsula via sled - an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise! (*Requires a Michigan Trail Pass)
Celebrate the snowmobile culture in the Northwoods by planning your trip around an annual event!
Need to Rent?
Greer’s Pier Marina in Manitowish Waters