Ashland County Attractions
From the wild 15-mile rapids of the Flambeau River near Butternut at the southeastern edge of the county, to Lake Superior on the north, Ashland County offers outdoor excitement, spectacular scenery, tranquil lakes and lively streams surrounded by luxurious forests, skyscraping rocks, mystical waterfalls, abundant wildlife, vast stretches of peaceful, undeveloped wilderness, rugged shoreline, sandy beaches, and access to the largest of the Great Lakes.
Ashland County is anchored by the City of Ashland, on the southern shore of Lake Superior's Chequamegon Bay. Ashland's harbor, nestled in protected Chequamegon Bay, boasts a full service marina; the perfect place to put in from sailing, cruising or fishing Lake Superior, two short blocks from the city's historic downtown. Ashland's city parks offer swimming, sandy beaches, fishing piers, campsites, playgrounds, old forest trails, deer yards, campsites, launching ramps, lakeside picnic areas and unobstructed views of the breakwater lighthouse and Chequamegon Bay.
Much of inland Ashland County is covered by the gently rolling terrain of the Chequamegon National Forest. With 411 lakes, 632 miles of rivers and streams, 200 miles of hiking trails, 200 miles of motorized trails, over 800 wetlands, nearly 11,000 acres of wilderness areas, 50 miles of cross-country ski trails and more than 300 miles of snowmobile trails, recreational activities and scenic landscapes are virtually unlimited year-round. In Summer, forest activities include sightseeing from highland overlooks, fishing, hiking, ATVing, horseback riding and wilderness camping. In winter, forest lakes and trails host cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice-fishing and snowshoeing.
With almost 900 square miles of woodland, 157 lakes, and 548 miles of rivers and streams, including 257 miles of trout streams, Ashland county is one of Wisconsin's most productive hunting and fishing grounds; regularly yielding trophy size musky, trout, walleye, northern and panfish, whitetail deer, and black bear. The world record 10'7" black bear, taken nearby in the county, is proudly displayed in Gladden.
Visitors can buy or rent boats, motors, canoes, mountain bikes, skis, snowmobiles, bait, tackle, tents, stoves, ATV's; almost everything they need for outdoor fun, at Ashland County resorts, marinas, outfitters, bait, tackle and sports centers.
Ashland County hotels and restaurants offer great variety, from Lake Superior Fish Boils to award-winning gourmet delights featuring fresh, locally grown produce and genuine catch-of-today specials. Lodging accommodations range from luxury lakeside resort hotels, country cottages and log cabins to economy motels and rugged wilderness campsites.
For the perfect outdoor adventure and getaway any time of the year, Ashland County has it all!
Museums and Historical Sites
Ashland Historical Museum
509 West Main Street, Ashland
Located in the heart of the Ashland's Historic Shopping district, this museum features displays of industrial, retail, medical and life styles reflecting Ashland's history from beginning to the present.
Mellen Area Historical Museum
City Hall, Mellen
The Mellen Area Historical Museum is located on the second floor of the 1896 City Hall in a space that was originally built as a community recreation center. The restored stage hosts theatrical productions that continue the facility's century-old community gathering tradition. Exhibits include logging and farm equipment, weaving looms, vintage clothing, period home and business items, military artifacts, historical maps and more. Open June 1 - September 1 during library hours, Monday - Tuesday 9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Wednesday & Friday 1:00 - 4:00 p.m., Saturday 9:00 a.m. - noon. Not open holidays.
Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center
US Hwy. 2 and Cty. Hwy. G, West of Ashland
Operated by multiple agencies and organizations, the Visitor Center provides cultural exhibits of the history of the Northern Great Lakes Region: Northern Wisconsin, Northeastern Minnesota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The region's heritage is told from the time of the glaciers to the present. A musical historical house show "Up Under the Upper Lake" provides an entertaining presentation of Northern Wisconsin's farming, logging, shipping and mining history. Open 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. daily in summer; and 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. daily in winter.
Ashland Historic District
Ashland's downtown historic district has an old-fashioned mix of retail shops, restaurants and other businesses located in 19th and early 20th century buildings including the once bustling Soo Line Depot that now houses two restaurants, offices, a micro-brewery and one of the world's largest collections of railroad art; and the old Northwestern Depot, now a fitness center. (The Soo Line Depot Building is currently under re-construction after a tragic fire almost two years ago. The restaurant and micro-brewery are now housed in one of the Historic beautifully renovated Wilmarth Buildings at 808 West Main Street.)
Marion Park Pavilion
Marion Park, Glidden
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the architecturally unique Marion Park Pavilion was built during the depression by the WPA. This octagon-shaped structure, 45 feet high and 90 feet wide, was constructed of virgin hemlock and pine, with a hardwood floor and hundreds of windowpanes.
Glidden Area Historical Museum
Marion Park, Glidden
View artifacts and memorabilia of Glidden's logging, lumbering and dairy farming heritage dating back to the early 1800's. Call for hours.
Points of Interest
Bad River Chippewa Reservation
A visit to the Bad River Chippewa Reservation is an exciting and enlightening experience for young and old alike. More than 95% of the reservation's 124,234 acres remain wild and undeveloped. The Kakagon and Bad River Sloughs, 16,000 acres of high-quality Lake Superior wetlands on the reservation's shoreline have supplied wild rice to generations of Chippewa. The Bad River Chippewa operate a fish hatchery, annually stocking more than 15 million walleye into reservation waters and area lakes and streams.
1411 Ellis Ave.
Northland College, an environmental liberal arts college, located in Ashland, is nationally recognized for it's special focus on environmental studies. Here visitors will discover the new McLean Environmental Living and Learning Center and the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute. Call for tour and special event information.
Northern Continental Divide
The Northern Continental Divide separates the southern third from the northern portion of Ashland County. Rivers originating north of the Divide flow north to Lake Superior, and to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean; rivers originating south of the Divide flow south, eventually reaching the Gulf of Mexico. The Divide is located a few miles north of Glidden and is marked with a clear sign along State Highway 13/77.
World's Record Black Bear
The Town of Glidden boasts the title of "Black Bear Capital of the World. The world record, 10':7", 665-pound black bear taken in this area in 1963 is on display here.
Penokee Mountain Overlook
This area offers a breathtaking view of the Penokee Mountain Range and the Chequamegon National Forest. Located on Cty. Hwy. GG between Mellen and Clam Lake, this overlook has a platform area for viewing with benches and interpretive signage. Stairs lead from the parking lot to the overlook, less than one-fourth mile away.
Black Granite Quarries
Aside from the deposits found in the Penokee Range, Black Gabbro (Black Granite) is known only to exist in the Swiss Alps. There are two black granite quarries in the Mellen area; it is shipped to all points of the world from here.
Flambeau River, Butternut
The north fork of the Flambeau River is known for its 15-mile stretch of rapids for whitewater rafting. Professional guides and skilled boaters guide visitors through the rapids and superb river scenery. Rafting on the Flambeau is not recommended without a guide. For information contact the Flambeau Area Sportsman Club in Butternut.
Ashland Bay Days
There's plenty to see and do at the Ashland Bay Days celebration. This annual July weekend event features an off-road bike race, the City View 10K Run, the Ashland Cup Sailboat Race, a 3x3 Basketball Tourney, a sock hop, food, arts and crafts galore.
In October, Ashland hosts the annual Whistlestop Festival. A classic Lake Superior Fish Boil and Prediction Run lead-off the fun, followed by the Whistlestop Marathon, Half-Marathon and Relays, topped off with a Post Marathon Party and a Blues and Brews Fest.
Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival
Come to Cable for three days of fat tire racing and fat tire fun at the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival held on the second weekend after Labor Day. This is the nation's largest off-road bicycle event, drawing mountain bikers from around the world. Entries are limited to 2500, but participation in the fun is entirely unlimited.
Copper Falls State Park
Canyons, streams, beautiful waterfalls, swimming beach, picnic area with log shelter, miles of trails, a family campground plus walk-in and backpack campsites are available for visitors at this beautiful Wisconsin State Park. Copper Falls, located just northeast of the City of Mellen, is a 29-foot falls which marks the first drop of the Bad River as it flows through steep-walled gorges of rugged and awesome splendor. Hikers will enjoy self-guided nature trails and observation points overlooking spectacular vistas.
Morgan Falls/St. Peter's Dome
Chequamegon National Forest, Sanborn
This scenic area is located about 13 miles west of Mellen and 6 miles south of Sanborn in the Penokee Range. The 1600-ft. red granite dome is the highest point in the Chequamegon National Forest. On a clear day, you can see Lake Superior 20 miles to the north. At the south fork of Morgan Creek, a small stream cascades 70 feet down the face of a rock cliff, forming a spectacular waterfall to a small shaded pool. It is a one-half mile hike from the parking lot to Morgan Falls, and beyond the falls, about one-mile to the top of St. Peter's Dome.
Ashland City Parks
Ashland is a city of parks. One of the most impressive is Prentice Park with 100 acres of old forest, walking trails, artesian wells, a deer yard and boardwalk along Fish Creek Slough. Prentice Park facilities include campsites, a pavilion and a playground. Bayview Park on Ashland's east end features a spectacular view of the old lighthouse at the end of the Ashland breakwater. Facilities at Bayview Park include a playground, swimming beach, fishing pier, picnic areas and a re-creation of a historic stockade. Kreher Park has RV campsites, a swimming beach, pavilion, playground and a boat ramp. Ashland is also proud of their new "Waterfront Trail" that takes you through a scenic walking tour of Ashland and the Chequamegon Bay from the East side of town to the West side of town.
Chequamegon National Forest
The Chequamegon National Forest has 850,000 acres of rolling terrain dotted with crystal clear lakes, rushing rivers and meandering streams, a variety of scenic landscapes, rock formations, highland outlooks, varied forest environments, hundreds of wildlife species; and hundreds of miles of easy-going to rugged hiking, mountain biking, cycling and snowmobile trails, five public and four private campgrounds.
Backcountry camping is permitted throughout the forest on public land located at least 30 feet from any trail or waters' edge. The Rainbow Lake and Porcupine Lake Wilderness areas offer backpackers and hikers 11,000 rugged acres of nature at its quiet best; no wheeled or motorized vehicles are allowed.
Families with young children, and others looking for short and easy paths through the forest will find several trails with interpretive stations. All are easily accessible and can be enjoyed in as little as half an hour. The Forest Lodge Nature Trail, maintained by the Cable Natural History Museum, is a family favorite.
Skyscraping towers, cliff-lined gorges and seventy foot waterfalls are found along the forest's more challenging trails, including the North Country National Scenic Trail, part of a 3200 mile trail linking the Appalachian Trail in Vermont with the Lewis and Clark Trail in North Dakota.
Mountain bike enthusiasts will find more than 300 miles of mapped and marked trails stretching from Hayward to Iron River. Developed and maintained by the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike association, CAMBA trails are well-marked, "impossible to get lost on," and follow a variety of paths including logging roads, firelanes, snowmobile trails, ski trails and single tracks.
Hundreds of miles of excellent trail systems allow snowmobilers to travel the uncrowded solitude of the forest, over well-groomed logging roads, firelanes and converted railbeds with 200 to 585 footbridges from Hayward to Mason, Iron River and Port Wing.
In the heart of the forest, the Forest Service maintains an extensive network of trails that are open for horseback riding. The 12-mile Horseshoe Lake Saddle Trail, suitable for riders of all abilities, has two adjoining loops of varying lengths to explore.
The U.S. Forest Service also maintains a number of cross-country ski trail systems in the forest, including Rock Lake, Namakogon, Drummond, Penokee Mountain, West Torch and Mukwonago trails. All are groomed for classical skiing except Mukwonago, which provides for both classical and skate skiing.
Forest lakes and streams provide angling thrills for novice and expert alike. Lake Namakagon is one of three Wisconsin lakes managed for trophy musky production; regularly yielding 40+ inchers. Altogether there are more than a dozen large lakes in the Ashland Country portion of the Forest, offering a variety of good catches including walleye, bass, and northern. Forest streams yield brook trout, rainbows and browns. Crappies and other panfish are plentiful in all of the forests waters, including the many wilderness lakes that are only accessible by foot and best fished by belly boat. In winter, of course, the fish are available through the ice. Ice fishing equipment is available for rent in nearby boat, bait and tackle shops.
Forest woodlands offer great hunting with little competition from others. In season, whitetail deer, black bear, ruffed grouse, and waterfowl are most commonly hunted. But, the forest also yields woodcock, gray squirrel, snowshoe hare, fox and coyote.
Private campgrounds located on the shores of the Forest's lakes offer boat ramps, sandy beaches, boat, motor and canoe rentals, electrical hookups, water, showers and flush toilets.