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Black River State Forest

Trail Facts

Novice: 2.4k
Intermediate: 25.1k
Advanced: 11.1k
Grooming: C+S
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Trail Review


Northeast of Millston.


Grooming: Classic & skate. Multiple loop trail system.
Snowshoe Trails: Yes. Two separate trails; a 1.5 km loop & a 4.8 km point-2-point trail.


The 18,000 acre Black River State Forest offers 38 km of trails that meander over and around a very scenic range of hills, cliffs, and bluffs through a mature pine forest. This popular Nordic trail system is considered by many to be among the best in Wisconsin.

The BRSF lies in the northeastern edge of the driftless area and the terrain varies widely; from long flats, to moderate rolling hills, to several rugged, very difficult, steep sections.

There are seven named loop-trails, all are groomed for both classic and skate, and all are designated one-way. Five two-way ‘link trails’ provide cut-offs and loop connections. All-in-all this is a well laid out system. Outside of a 2.4 km beginner loop at the south end; most of the trails here are for intermediate and expert level skiers. The three expert trails: Wild Cat, Norway Pine, and Ridge Trails all feature scenic overlooks with impressive views of the surrounding forest and hills.

Grooming is usually timely and excellent.

The main trailhead is at the Smerkar Lot and offers a large paved parking area, a heated shelter and drinking water. There is an area inside the shelter for waxing skis. A second trailhead is at the Wildcat Lot, and has a parking lot and drinking water but no shelter. Two rustic Adirondack shelters are located on the trails and each offers a small fireplace and picnic tables.

A one mile snowshoe loop is accessible from the Smrekar Lot trailhead. A second, point-2-point snowshoe trail begins at the Pigeon Creek Campground and ends at Smerkar Road, about 0.6 mile from the Smerkar Lot.


The entire trail system lies within the Black River State Forest.


Wisconsin State Trail Pass required
Daily: $5
Annual: $25


Parking, heated shelter (Smerkar Lot), water, pit toilets, 2 adirondak shelters
On-Site Equipment Rentals: No


food, gas (Millston), motels, food, gas, retail sporting goods (Black River Falls)


Smerkar Lot: From the I-94 Exit on County Highway O (underpass), drive east on County O for 4.1 miles and turn north onto Smerkar Rd. Drive north on Smerkar Rd for 0.7 mile to the Smerkar Lot entrance.

Wildcat Lot: From the I-94 Exit on County Highway O (underpass), drive east on County O for 0.3 mile and turn north onto North Settlement Rd. Drive north on North Settlement Rd for 4.1 miles to the Smerkar Lot entrance.


Website: Black River State Forest
Phone: 715.284.4103 (Black River State Forest HQ)

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