The North Country Hiking Trail: Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Highway 53 Trailhead

The North Country Hiking Trail: Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Highway 53 Trailhead, Douglas County, WI

North Country Trail - Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53 trailhead

North Country Trail – Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53 trailhead

Looking for good places to hike in northwestern Wisconsin? Check out this 3.3 mile segment of the North Country Scenic Trail. It’s right here in the Gordon-Solon Springs area. Because it traverses relatively open terrain, this segment is a good place to enjoy the vista. Near the north end of the route, there’s also a nice walk-in campsite overlooking Leo Creek.

Please check back now and then; I’ll occasionally be posting more trail segments. I’ll try to include a couple photos with each post, but not enough to take all the fun and mystery out of exploring the trail yourself. Stay tuned…

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53

Finally, here’s a road map to help you find the trailhead:

Road Map

Road Map

Fall activities in Northwest Wisconsin: The Bird Sanctuary (Douglas County)

Fall activities in Northwest Wisconsin: The Bird Sanctuary

If you’re looking for things to do here in Northwestern Wisconsin, you should know about the 4,000-acre Douglas County Wildlife Management Area (DCWMA). On some maps it also appears as the Douglas County State Wildlife Area. Around here, most people just call it “The Bird Sanctuary.”

Bird Sanctuary Clubhouse to Hwy 53

Here’s a quick overview, courtesy of the Friends of the Bird Sanctuary. To learn more about the Bird Sanctuary, you can visit their website.

First, you should know The Bird Sanctuary isn’t just for birders and wildlife watchers. It’s also a great place for picnicking, berry-picking, hiking, backcountry skiing, and snowshoeing.

On their website, the Friends of the Bird Sanctuary also mention that this is a great place for “wildflower observations.” That’s a nice way of saying you can look and take all the photos you want, but please don’t pick them. Some of these wildflowers, even if locally abundant, are apparently quite rare.

The North Country Hiking Trail runs through The Bird Sanctuary, and you can also hike on lots of other trails. Horseback riding is allowed on designated trails.

(Tip: Whether you’re hiking or riding, the Bird Sanctuary’s open terrain can be a good place to escape summer’s mosquitos and deer flies. You’ll still encounter a few, but not quite as many as you would in the nearby woods.)

Although none of the hiking trails within The Bird Sanctuary are designated for biking, its the paved and dirt roads are great for biking. (Some of the sand roads, however, are quite soft.) Nearby, you’ll also find lots more roads and trails.

As part of their educational outreach, The Friends of the Bird Sanctuary sponsor an annual series of fun programs and outings, many of them with a hands-on outdoor component. They’re led by wildlife biologists, naturalists, historians, and other experts from around the region.

If you’d like to watch sharptail grouse dance in April and early May, you can reserve the ground blind that’s positioned right nest to their dancing grounds. It’s free of charge, and a rare opportunity to watch this fascinating courtship ritual.

For a modest fee, you can also rent The Bird Sanctuary clubhouse for an event of your own. It’s a popular venue for summertime wedding receptions, birthday parties, and other events. Be sure to make your reservation well ahead of time.

Why This Habitat is Different

The first thing you’ll notice is the wide open spaces. The Bird Sanctuary is one of the our region’s final remnants of grassland savanna—small stands of pine and oak sprinkled through open grassland, with a few clumps of hazel and aspen thrown in for good measure. Until the arrival of European settlers, naturally-occurring fires created an ever-shifting mosaic of these grassland clearings, which are sometimes called “northern pine savannas” or “northern oak savannas.”

Early settlers didn’t think much of these places. They called them “barrens.” Over the years, as newcomers plowed fields, planted trees, and suppressed fires, these open areas gradually disappeared. These grasslands—and the wildlife they support—once covered over a third of Wisconsin. Today fewer than 40,000 acres remain, and 4,000 of those acres are right here in the Bird Sanctuary.

Many species depend on this unique ecosystem, and much of what little remains is in isolated pockets too small to maintain the genetic diversity that’s necessary for species’ long-term survival. Northern Wisconsin has only a few remaining contiguous pieces of grassland savanna that are as large as the one preserved here.

The Bird Sanctuary also happens to be a great great habitat for humans to explore. For directions to the Bird Sanctuary, click here.

Handy hunting reference – 2018 Wisconsin Hunting and Trapping Seasons

2018 Wisconsin Hunting and Trapping Seasons dnr.gov

A Home Inspection: The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make

A Home Inspection: The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make

I advise all my buyers to hire a home inspector.  I tell them it’s the best investment they’ll ever make.  If the inspection uncovers issues so serious that they decide to walk, it can feel like money wasted.  But if it helps them avoid big surprises they would have encountered later, then it’s definitely money well-spent.  That’s why I very rarely write up offers that don’t include an inspection contingency.

I even advise buyers to hire an inspector when they’re considering a foreclosure or other distressed property that’s being sold “as-is.”  More information can help them, in the words of that old song, “know when to walk away… and know when to run.”  Or, they can move forward with confidence, armed with solid information about just what they’re getting into.  And even when a home is being sold as-is, that doesn’t necessarily mean there can’t be a little negotiating if an inspection uncovers major issues.

It’s also important to remember that a condition report is very different from an inspection report.  Yes, sellers sign on the dotted line to signify that they’re telling the truth.  But even though they’re completing the condition report to the best of their knowledge, they may not know about all of their home’s issues.  So no matter how much you trust the seller’s condition report, it doesn’t take the place of an inspection.

If an inspection uncovers major issues, you have two choices: you can walk, or you can ask the seller to “cure.”  The seller can resolve the situation by either fixing it or giving you a credit at closing.  I almost never advise my buyers to walk away without trying to negotiate a solution.  The only exception would be in the case of serious mold or structural issues.  Almost anything else can be fixed.  If this is a home and a location that you like, work with the seller to reach a fair outcome.

Most homes outside the city limits have their own well and septic, and those need to be inspected, too.  Some inspectors are specialists, while others can take care of all three inspections in the same visit.  Ask your Realtor for recommendations.

Don’t procrastinate on this step; start working to schedule an inspection the moment you have an accepted offer.  The best inspectors can be very busy; here in northern Wisconsin, that’s especially true during the summer months.  So you’ll have plenty of time for any negotiations that might need to take place between the inspection and the contingency deadline, make sure you schedule your inspection for the earliest date possible.

Start your property search: www.JeanHedren.com
Call Jean Hedren, Edina Realty NW Wisconsin Realtor, 218-590-6634

Northwest Wisconsin bucket list: The North Country Hiking Trail

Northwest Wisconsin bucket list: The North Country Hiking Trail

The North Country Trail meanders all the way from Maine to North Dakota, in some cases incorporating existing trails like northeastern Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail. When completed, it will be 4,600 miles long. It’s administered by the National Park Service in cooperation with state and local agencies like the WI DNR, and nearly all trail building and maintenance is done by volunteers.

Although the trail still includes gaps where hikers are forced to settle for paved and dirt roads, the trail sections already completed include more miles than the entire Appalachian Trail. A couple hundred of those miles are right here in our own corner of Northwestern Wisconsin. It’s a vastly underutlized recreational opportunity, and I’d like to help spread the word.

Some great stretches of trail can be found in my own neighborhood, right near Gordon and Solon Springs. One stretch, for example, traverses the Douglas County Wildlife Management Area, known locally as simply The Bird Sanctuary.

North Country trail map - Douglas County WI

North Country trail map – Douglas County WI

Here, courtesy of the Brule-Saint Croix Chapter of the North Country Trail Association, are two downloadable maps. The first is a map of the entire area. The second map is a guide to one segment that’s especially interesting—the Historic Portage Trail and Brule Bog Boardwalk.

Historic Portage Trail and Brule Bog Boardwalk

Historic Portage Trail and Brule Bog Boardwalk

(For more on the Brule-Saint Croix Chapter of the North Country Trail Association, click here. To learn more about their upcoming hikes and other events, click here.)

If you’d like to explore on your own, these maps will help you get started. So far, however, detailed maps and directions to trailheads are still hard to come by for most stretches of the trail. Watch this space; you’ll soon begin seeing them here.

Enjoy the fall colors while you shop for your NW Wisconsin lake home or cabin

Right now is a great time to find your new home, cabin, or recreational property in Northwestern Wisconsin.  Summer is over and autumn leaves are turning their brilliant yellow and red hues.  A smart strategy is to get serious about your search right now.

Beautiful fall colors in NW Wisconsin

Beautiful fall colors in NW Wisconsin

Fall leaves

Fall leaves

Here’s why:  If you’re planning to wait until spring before beginning or resuming your search, remember that a lot of other buyers are doing the same.  Sellers are very aware of this, and some have resigned themselves to not seeing much more activity until April. But once April arrives, they’ll be confident that more buyers will turn up in the months to follow. Home prices might even start a little higher and they’ll be less willing to negotiate on price.

Instead, if you find the place you’re looking for now and put in an offer, you’ll be in an excellent negotiating position.  Many sellers are eager to sell now so they can move on; your negotiating power is even better.  Some sellers will be glad to no longer be carrying those costs through the winter.

While interest rates are still very low, there is no guarantee they will remain at these levels. That’s one more reason to buy now.

This time of year, even Mother Nature is making it easier to find your new home, cabin, or recreational property.  The leaves are falling, and suddenly it’s literally much easier to see what’s out there.  Not only is this a wonderful time of year to enjoy the colors, lake homes and the lakes tend to be more visible.

But if you’re curious about properties you’ve seen online, I’d be glad to help you get a closer look.  To see my listings, go to www.JeanHedren.com.  You can search by county, community and even by the specific lake name. (I’ll also be glad to show you any properties in Northwestern Wisconsin.)  You can also check out my YouTube listing videos – Edina Realty Northwest Wisconsin Homes

There’s no better time than right now to find your new home, cabin, or recreational property in Northwestern Wisconsin.  The leaves are turning, our inventory of available properties is still good, and now is an excellent time to come take a look around.

Take your NW Wisconsin property search while enjoying the fall colors. Download my free NW Wisconsin property search app at www.JeanHedren.com

Jean Hedren, Edina Realty, NW Wisconsin. Douglas, Bayfield, Washburn, Sawyer County real estate. Gordon, Wascott, Minong, Solon Springs, Barnes, Hayward, Spooner real estate, and other NW Wisconsin communities.

Out exploring? GPS and phone maps are great. But don’t forget the big picture.

Out exploring? GPS and phone maps are great. But don’t forget the big picture.

Scenic drive in Barnes, WI

Scenic drive in Barnes, WI

These days, more and more people are forsaking paper maps for phone or dash-based mapping systems. But when you’re looking for real estate, and maybe even when you’re just trying to find your way back to town, don’t forget the big picture.

Don’t get me wrong. I love gadgets, and I love technology. I’m no luddite technophobe. In fact, I’m the designated software trainer for the Edina Realty agents in northwestern Wisconsin. But I firmly believe that paper-based maps still have a place.

Here’s why. First, larger maps help you see the big-picture context. Without them, you’ll be looking at the world through a tiny window. Plus, when you’re driving through a dead zone your phone or tablet will only work if you’ve planned ahead and preloaded detailed maps of that particular area. Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t.

So I’d especially like to recommend two entire books full of good old paper maps:

  • Northwest Wisconsin Fishing Map Guide, Northern Region. You can also find maps, fisheries info, and other lake information by going to the menu above and clicking on NW WI Lakes & Rivers. But when you’re out driving around, this 224-page volume can be an invaluable reference. Although it’s intended for anglers, it includes great maps and lake information that’s helpful for the non-angler, too. Available from Amazon, and also at finer bookstores, hardware stores, and bait shops everywhere.
  • Wisconsin Atlas and Gazetteer, by De Lorme. These 96 pp. of large-format maps show all the roads in Wisconsin—including the smallest dirt back roads. They also show terrain features, boat landings, and other points of interest. (For more about specific communities, you can also go to the menu above and click on NW WI Communities. And for the quickest routes to get here, click on Get Here.)

I love my phone, and buyers have told me the Edina Realty Mobile App can be extremely helpful. But to supplement your phone, tablet, or dash system, don’t forget plain old paper maps. They run on a user-friendly page-based operating system. Their batteries never die, and they work everywhere. Try one today.