Reader mailbag: where to hike, bike, canoe

This weekend I am reacquainting myself with one of the more well-known and  historically rich urban walks in the country, Boston’s Freedom Trail. It is a 3-mile route that has Boston Commons and Bunker Hill as its bookends.

The trail was established in 1958 and is easy to follow (just look for a red line on the sidewalks). Among the 16 historic points are the site of the Boston Massacre, the USS Constitution and the Granary Burying Ground (resting place of Paul Revere, John Hancock, other notables). For more, go to or call (617) 227-8800.

When I return to the Midwest, there will a few natural wonders to check out, thanks to you. Several people responded to the call for great places to hike, bike or canoe in or near Wisconsin. 

A Wisconsin State Parks vehicle admission sticker, good for state park entry during the rest of 2003, is being sent to Ken and Marlene Alsmo of Windsor (Dane County). They wrote about a great tour of 14 waterfalls in Marinette County; start with a map from the tourist information center in Marinette.

”The drive between each site is on scenic Wisconsin roadways, with markers guiding you,” they write. “On an overnight stop in Marinette in 2001, we only had time to visit two waterfalls, but we were so impressed that we vowed a return trip to find them all – and did last summer. 

”It was an all-day venture, but one we were glad to have undertaken. We were once again reminded of the treasure we have in our beautiful Wisconsin.”


Rosanne Reckin, Durand (Pepin County), writes about her love of biking on the Willard Munger state trail in Minnesota. It extends from Duluth to Hinckley and is 70 miles of asphalt paving.

”Last fall we rode several segments of the trail and enjoyed the views, terrain, wildflowers and blackberries,” she writes. “It was a great ride, although the segment near Duluth was cold due to the fog.” 

Rene Kurth is owner of The Viking Motel, Cameron (Barron County), and sent info about her favorite bike route, a 25-mile ride that is north of Waupaca. 

”It is very scenic, low-traffic, narrow, paved country roads,” she writes. “It reminded me of being in Switzerland.” Instead of trying to explain the route here, let’s send you to Just send Rene an e-mail and ask for details.


”One of the most enjoyable trails I have ever walked on was Indian Lake,” writes Nicole S. Tremain-Woodcock, Middleton (Dane County). “I could spend hours taking in the tranquil natural beauty that surrounds the area.”

There are several Indian lakes in Wisconsin; she is referring to the one that is on the way to Baraboo, off of Highway 12 and near Springfield Corners. “You can’t swim there, but there are a lot of trails to walk and bike on,” Nicole says. “There is also a wonderful cabin located just off one of the trails, to sit and roast hot dogs over the fireplace, or just sit and relax.

”I have always found Indian Lake to be one of Wisconsin’s most underrated parks. It’s always free, and it really brings you back to nature, even for just a little while.”


Noreen Haines, executive secretary of the Arcadia Area Chamber of Commerce, wants us to be more aware of her part of the state.

”I’m not sure if you have heard about the Trempealeau County Bike Tours,” she writes. “We have been working on setting up tours throughout the county and have a map available for bikers.” There also are six organized rides in the county this year; one is Sept. 19-21.

”The nice thing about the Trempealeau County area is that all bike trails are already established,” Haines says. “We have 382 miles of paved back roads, with only three cars per hour! We also have trail stewards along the routes.”

For more about this project, go to www. Besides the bike trails, note the link to Memorial Park and its impressive collection of military monuments. Perhaps that is a topic for further exploration at another time.


A reader didn’t mention it, but let’s put in another good word for our good neighbor Minnesota. My files contain a press release about “lodge to lodge bicycling” on the Mesabi Trail in the northeastern part of the state.

This program has been expanded to include lodging, meals and shuttle service for bicyclists on the trail, which goes through the Iron Range and Superior National Forest, from Grand Rapids to Ely. The route sounds both scenic and challenging.

”The trail – unlike most paved trails located on abandoned railroad beds that are flat and straight – meanders and curves and runs up and down hills, through forests, streams, past the ‘great canyons of the north’ and into 28 historic Iron Range communities along its path,” states the press release.

About 85 of the planned 132-mile bituminous paved trail should be complete by now. Lodging varies from bed and breakfasts to full-service resorts. For more about Boundary Country Trekking, call (800) 322-8327 or go to