You could say that ATVing in Lincoln County is the tale of two seasons. While many ATV trails in the state are closed in the winter, many portions of the trail system in Lincoln County are open when the temperature dips below freezing and snow blankets the ground. Lincoln County boasts 175 miles of winter trails, many shared with snowmobilers.
The Harrison Hills ATV Trails are a favorite in any season. Carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, northeastern Lincoln County is sprinkled with clear lakes, picturesque scenery, rolling hills, and moderate to difficult trails. The Harrison Hills ATV Trails flow through the lush 100,000-acre Lincoln County Forest. The trail system covers more than 40 miles and connects to the Parrish Highlands trail in Oneida County and the Langlade County trail system.
Six parking areas access Harrison Hills. From any, hearty riders with lots of stamina can complete the perimeter loop in a day with minimal rest stops. For an easier ride, take a multiple day or out-and-back approach.
Two parking/access areas are near Harrison, which is about 10 miles east of Tomahawk. From Harrison the trail heads east. One mile in, riders can choose to head straight toward the Parrish Highlands Trails four miles to the east or turn south and west deep into the Harrison Hills Trails.
Turning south, riders cross Cty B, then zig-zag through the forest, cross a bridge and come to a fork in the trail. Left or right makes little difference; either is a scenic loop to Jackknife Lake. As the trail continues south, it crosses Bear Trail Road just west of High Lake. A three-mile ride brings you to Cranefoot Lake Road and to a trail intersection. From here the main trail turns north, while a 3-mile spur takes you south to the Turtle Lake Road parking area.
Heading northeast, the trail cuts south of Turtle Lake and past a fire tower placed appropriately on Lookout Mountain. Passing another parking and access area, the trail crosses Cty B again sliding just south of Fox, Bear and Snake Lakes. A few miles north the trail intersects with Parrish Road. The trail follows the road briefly before dipping back into the deep forest near the county line. Once at Cinder Road, you’ll encounter yet another parking lot. Here, you can turn east to the Parrish Highlands Trail or left completing the loop back to Harrison, about five miles away.
Plenty of lodging and restaurants are available in Tomahawk and Merrill. There are a few camping areas near these trails but none offer direct ATV access so trailering to the trails is necessary. The closest campsite to the trail is the Otter Lake Recreation Area on Otter Lake (www.discoverlincolncounty.com). Council Grounds State Park just west of Merrill offers 55 campsites in a 500-acre park along the Wisconsin River (715/536-8773, www.wiparks.net). For a look at local history, visit the Merrill Historical Museum (715/536-5652, www.ci.merrill.wi.us) or the Tomahawk Area Historical Museums (715/453-2056, www.gototomahawk.com).
- DISTANCE: 41 miles.
- DIFFICULTY: Moderate to difficult.
- TRAILHEAD LOCATION(S): There are seven parking/trail access areas. The main trailhead is located on Turtle Lake Rd just north of Cty J. Two additional lots are located on Cty B, and another on Cinder Rd. You can also park at the Harrison Convenience Store, at Bailey’s Town & Country Inn, and at the Clover Club (Memorial Day-Labor Day only).
- SEASON: Open May 1 to December 1. Also, in winter, ATVs are allowed on the trails ten days after the snowmobile trails are officially open. Trails close to ATV use on March 31, or when temperatures are higher than 28 degrees. Check for trail conditions and availability.
- OTHER TRAILS IN THIS REGION: Parrish Highlands Trail in Oneida and Langlade Counties.
- NOTE: ATVs are prohibited from using the Ice Age Hiking Trail. Signs will indicate whether road access is permitted. Be sure to call ahead to find out which roads are accessible. Roads that are gated or bermed are off limits.
- CAUTION: This trail system is remote; you may want to carry extra fuel. Gas is available in nearby Harrison and Gleason. Watch for logging equipment.
- FEES: None.
- AREA ATTRACTIONS: Council Grounds State Park, Merrill Historical Museum, and the Tomahawk Area Historical Museums.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Lincoln County Forestry Department
Merrill Area Chamber of Commerce
877/907-2757 or 715/536-9474
Tomahawk Chamber of Commerce
800/569-2160 or 715/453-5334