Friday, November 15, 2013

Nine Mile County Forest

It's a little embarrassing to admit that I've never been to Nine Mile Forest during the 17 years I've lived in this area, but a friend recently hiked some of these trails with her dog and encouraged me to check it out.

The trails are mainly used by mountain bikes in the summer and cross-country skiers in the winter, but this is a multi-use area that incorporates horseback riding, hiking and snowmobile use as well. There is a shooting range nearby where occasional gun-shots echo through the woods, so if your dog is skittish around that kind of noise, you may want to consider alternate hiking areas. Charlie was a bit nervous of the distant gun-shots at first, but quickly focused her attention on the exciting new trails ahead of us.

The trails are all numbered, but without a map and being unfamiliar with the trails and the distance they covered, I decided to stay on loops near the main Chalet and parking area. We had limited time to hike today and I didn't want to get lost on a long trail!

Trails constantly intersect each other and trail conditions and widths are varied. Some were wide and flat, like access roads, and others were narrow one-track trails. Many of the more difficult bike trails consisted of packed dirt with rocks and tree roots. Occasionally we would come to an open space with wide grassy paths.

After reading the detailed information about Nine Mile on the Marathon County website, I realized this area would require a lot more time to explore the extensive trail system. There is so much more to see than our short hike allowed, including two trout streams, marshes and wetland areas.

Because hunting is allowed on this land, please remember to wear blaze orange and outfit your dog with items to increase their visibility as well. Charlie typically wears her red hiking harness and a blaze orange neck warmer acquired at the local outdoor gear store, but many specialty pet stores also carry blaze orange vests, collars and leashes made specially for dogs to assist with increasing their visibility and provide protection against accidentally being mistaken for game animals. It's always better to be safe than sorry!

View of Chalet near main parking area.
Nine Mile County Forest is the perfect "sister park" to the nearby Rib Mountain State Park, so if you're in the area for only a short time, it's possible to visit both of these gems during a visit - which I highly recommend.

View of Rib Mountain from entrance to Nine Mile parking area.