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5 Fall Hikes You Shouldn't Miss Near Hayward, Wisconsin

As the leaves begin to change and the air grows crisp, there’s no better time to explore the natural beauty surrounding Hayward, Wisconsin. This fall, immerse yourself in the vibrant colors and serene landscapes of the Northwoods by embarking on these must-try hiking trails.

American Birkebeiner Trail

The American Birkebeiner Trail, stretching over 100 kilometers, is one of the most popular and well-known trails in the Hayward area, attracting enthusiasts for a variety of activities. During warmer months, it serves as a prime destination for walking and fat tire mountain biking, with options like the 42km trail from Cable to Hayward and a 27km trail from Cable to County Road OO, along with several loop options. In winter, it becomes a top cross-country ski venue, acclaimed as the No.1 cross-country ski destination in the U.S.​​​​ and home of the world famous Birkebeiner ski race.

  • Fall Colors and Forest Experience: In the fall, the trail offers an unmatched experience of the Hayward forest's autumnal beauty. The diverse tree species along the trail transform into a kaleidoscope of fall colors, providing a breathtaking backdrop for hikers and bikers. This season is perfect for experiencing the tranquil beauty of the north woods, with cooler temperatures and a respite from summer insects.

  • Local Reviews and Community Events: Renowned for its challenging hills and beautiful scenery, the trail hosts several community events, including the famous Slumberland American Birkebeiner race, which fosters a lively and inclusive atmosphere. Warming cabins along the trail add comfort to the adventure, especially for solo travelers​​.

  • Maintenance and Sustainability: The trail's maintenance, overseen by the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation, is vital to its popularity and longevity. Through community support and donations, the trail remains a well-preserved and sustainable outdoor destination​​.

  • Community Engagement and Spectator Spots: Integral to Hayward's community spirit, the trail sees active participation from locals and businesses, especially during event days. There are numerous spots for spectators to engage and watch races, contributing to the trail's vibrant and communal spirit​​​​.

  • Facilities and Accessibility: The trail is equipped with facilities like parking, warming buildings, and nearby amenities at various trailheads. Trail fees are applicable, with both daily and annual passes available, to support the maintenance and accessibility of this beloved trail.


Green Lake – Little Sissabagama Trail

The Green Lake-Little Siss Trail is a serene 2.5-mile trail system meandering through the picturesque forests of Sawyer County. This non-motorized trail is open for various activities including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and biking, offering a tranquil escape in the midst of nature​​​​.

  • Year-Round Accessibility: Open throughout the year and closed to motorized vehicles, this trail provides a peaceful setting for outdoor enthusiasts. Its two loop system caters to a variety of activities, making it a versatile destination for different seasons and interests​​.

  • Fall Experience: During the fall, the trail is particularly enchanting, as the surrounding forest bursts into vibrant colors. The tranquil paths, flanked by the changing leaves, offer a perfect opportunity for hikers and bikers to immerse themselves in the beauty of the season. The crisp fall air and the sounds of nature make for a rejuvenating experience.

  • Directions and Facilities: The trail is easily accessible, located south of Stone Lake on County Road BB, approximately 6 miles from Sissabagama Road or Green Lake Road. Convenient parking is available at the Green Lake trailhead, making it easy for visitors to start their journey​​.

  • Community Contribution: The creation of this trail is a testament to the community's dedication to providing recreational spaces. Its maintenance and preservation are thanks to the collective effort

Library Nature Park Trail

  • Length: 0.5 miles (Great for small children)

  • Highlights: Situated behind the Sherman & Ruth Weiss Community Library, the Library Nature Park Trail is a half-mile loop that meanders through a forest, around a small pond, and beside a restored prairie. This level, gravel trail is particularly favored by dog walkers and hikers seeking fresh air and light exercise. It is an ideal trail for families with children, the elderly, or anyone looking for an accessible nature walk​​​​.

  • Educational and Interactive Features: The trail offers an enriching experience with benches for rest and relaxation, informational kiosks, and an observation pier extending into the pond and wetland. These features provide educational insights into the area's geology, history, birdlife, the lifecycle of the forest, and the role of wetlands and their inhabitants. The trail's educational aspect is further enhanced by StoryWalk, an initiative led by the library's Assistant Director, where visitors can read a weather-proofed children's book along the trail. Additionally, there are audio guides available for different seasons, offering narrated insights at 18 different stops along the trail, accessible via a QR code at the trailhead​​​​.

  • Accessibility and Recreation: The trail's flat and well-maintained path makes it an excellent choice for a relaxing stroll, suitable for all ages and abilities. It's an ideal spot for those seeking a gentle introduction to the outdoors or a brief escape into nature without the demand of a strenuous hike.

  • Natural Setting and Tranquility: The Library Nature Park Trail offers a peaceful escape into the natural beauty of Hayward. Its proximity to the library and downtown area makes it a convenient and delightful detour for visitors and locals alike, providing a serene setting to enjoy the diverse plant life and tranquility of the park.

A Journey Worth Taking: Exceptional Hikes Just an Hour from Hayward

While the immediate surroundings of Hayward offer plenty of natural beauty, some trails just outside this radius beckon with their unique allure. These two handpicked hiking destinations below, each about an hour's drive from Hayward, are exceptional in their own right and well worth the extra miles. They're not just scenic routes but immersive experiences that capture the essence of Wisconsin's diverse landscapes. Whether it's the tranquil reflection of fall colors on a serene river or the historic charm of woodland paths, these trails promise an enriching escape into nature. Their distinctive features, ranging from towering waterfalls to historic landmarks, elevate them above the ordinary, making them indispensable additions to our list of must-try fall hikes. 


Beaver Trail - Pattison State Park, Superior, WI

  • Difficulty: Medium

  • Length: 2 miles

  • Fall Colors Highlight: As autumn arrives, the Beaver Trail at Pattison State Park transforms into a mesmerizing canvas of vibrant fall colors. The trail, which encircles the picturesque Interfalls Lake, is enveloped by a lush boreal forest. During the fall, this forest comes alive with a spectacular display of reds, oranges, and yellows, creating a breathtaking backdrop for hikers and photographers alike. The reflection of the autumn foliage on the tranquil lake waters enhances the trail's scenic beauty, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking the quintessential fall experience.

  • Proximity to Waterfalls: Adding to the trail's allure are the Big and Little Manitou Falls. The Beaver Trail provides access to these stunning waterfalls, with the majestic Big Manitou Falls standing as Wisconsin's tallest at 165 feet. The sound of cascading water amidst the fall scenery makes for an unforgettable hiking experience.

  • Trail Experience: Recent improvements, including new gravel paths, have made the trail more accessible and enjoyable, particularly during the fall season when the paths are lined with colorful leaves. The park's cleanliness and well-maintained facilities, coupled with clear and helpful signage, ensure a hassle-free hiking experience. The trails along the upper part of the river offer additional exploration opportunities, where hikers can find less-traveled paths with equally stunning views and an intimate encounter with the season's beauty.

  • Accessibility and Amenities: The park's accessibility, just an hour's drive north of Hayward, and its amenities, including clean facilities, make it an ideal spot for both short visits and extended stays during the fall. The combination of natural splendor, accessibility, and thoughtful maintenance positions Pattison State Park and the Beaver Trail as top destinations for witnessing the magnificent fall colors of Wisconsin.

  • Travel from Hayward: Approximately 1 hour drive north


Sandstone Ledges Spur - North Country National Scenic Trail, Copper Falls State Park, Mellen, WI

  • Difficulty: Hardest

  • Length: 5 miles

  • Autumn Splendor: In fall, the Sandstone Ledges Spur becomes a hiker's paradise, showcasing a stunning array of fall colors. The trail meanders through a mature hardwood forest dotted with tall pines, spruce, and balsam fir. The changing leaves create a vibrant palette of reds, oranges, and yellows, reflecting beautifully along the Bad River and enhancing the scenic beauty of the hike​​.

  • Historical Ambiance and Wildlife: The trail's rustic charm is accentuated by its historical background, with structures and trails built in the 1930s by the CCC and Works Progress Administration. This historic ambiance, combined with potential wildlife sightings, makes the hike a unique experience​​. Early fall hikers might even catch glimpses of local fauna, like bear cubs, as they prepare for the winter​​.

  • Waterfalls and Elevated Views: The journey along this trail rewards hikers with views of Copper Falls, Brownstone Falls, and Cascades, each offering a distinct and mesmerizing sight, especially against the backdrop of fall foliage​​​​. The climb to the lookout tower challenges hikers but provides a rewarding panoramic view of the park's autumn beauty​​​​.

  • Trail Features and Accessibility: While challenging, the trail is well-maintained, featuring steep stairways and rugged terrain that add to the adventure. Over 300 steps and steep climbs make it a rigorous but fulfilling hike​​. Parts of the trail are packed dirt with handrails, ensuring hiker safety.

  • Early Fall Considerations: For early fall visitors, it's advisable to carry bug spray as mosquitoes can still be active. As the season progresses into cooler temperatures, bugs become less of a concern, allowing for a more comfortable hiking experience.

  • Travel from Hayward: Approximately 55 minutes northeast

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just looking to enjoy a leisurely walk amidst the fall foliage, the Hayward area offers a variety of trails to suit every preference. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience these stunning hikes this fall season.


Hayward, Wisconsin is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a tranquil getaway. However, the town also offers a diverse range of events and entertainment options that cater to a variety of interests. Here are some of the events and activities to consider when visiting Hayward:

Annual Events:

  • American Birkebeiner: The world-renowned cross-country ski race attracts thousands of skiers and spectators every February.
  • Musky Festival: A celebration of the iconic fish that Hayward is famous for, the Musky Festival is held in June and features a parade, live music, food vendors, and a fishing contest.
  • Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival: Mountain bikers from all over the world come to Hayward every September to participate in this challenging race through the Chequamegon National Forest.
  • Festival of the Arts: This juried art show held in July features the work of over 100 artists, live music, and food vendors.

Ongoing Events and Activities:

  • Fishing: Hayward is known as the "Musky Capital of the World" and is home to several lakes and rivers that offer excellent fishing opportunities for anglers of all skill levels.
  • Hiking and Biking: The area is filled with scenic hiking and biking trails, including the Tuscobia State Trail and the Hayward Lakeshore Trail.
  • Water Activities: Hayward has several lakes and rivers where you can rent canoes, kayaks, or paddleboards. Many rental companies offer family discounts, and it's a great way to spend a day on the water.

  • Golfing: Hayward has several top-rated golf courses, including the Big Fish Golf Club and the Hayward Golf Club.

  • Mini-Golf: Several locations in Hayward offer mini-golf courses, including Goony Golf and Hemlock Mini Golf.

  • Lumberjack Shows: Visitors can watch professional lumberjacks compete in traditional logging events at the Lumberjack World Championships held in July and August.

  • Ice Cream: Treat the family to some delicious ice cream at West's Dairy or Dairy Queen in Hayward.

  • Hayward Community Pool: The Hayward Community Pool offers a variety of activities, including open swim, water aerobics, and swim lessons for all ages.

  • Park and Playground: The Hayward City Park is a great place for kids to run around and play. The park features playground equipment, a baseball field, and a sand volleyball court.

  • Museums and Galleries: The area is rich in cultural history and features several museums and galleries, including the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and the Wildwood Wildlife Park and Nature Center.
  • The Park Theater: This historic theater in downtown Hayward offers a variety of live music and comedy shows throughout the year.
  • Many of our local bars and resorts hosts live music acts on weekends and also serve delicous food and drinks.
  • Summer Concert Series: The Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce hosts a free summer concert series in downtown Hayward every Thursday evening from June to August.

Hayward, Wisconsin has something for everyone, whether you're looking for outdoor adventures or cultural experiences. Make sure to check the town's event calendar to see what's happening during your visit.

There's no shortage of family fun in Hayward, Wisconsin. With a little planning, you can create a memorable vacation for the whole family.