Nicolet National Forest – Hidden Lakes Trail

Between my med school classes and Allison’s weekly commutes to Indianapolis, we were fortunate to find a free weekend to go backpacking this month. This past weekend we made the ~4.5 hour drive up to Nicolet National Forest to check out the Hidden Lakes trail (a little west of Eagle River, WI). The trail turned out to be aptly named, passing within view of 11 different lakes – many of them tucked away miles from the nearest road or building.

That's us

Our planned route was approximately 13 miles long, though our trip ended up being more like 15 thanks to a little…um…detour we took. More on that shortly.

A smaller, unnamed lake

We started out from the Franklin Lake trailhead around noon, and made pretty good time travelling southwest toward Pat Shay Lake. Since we only planned to camp for one night, our packs were considerably lighter than on previous trips out west and on the AT.

Pat Shay lake

Around 7 miles into the trip, the man carrying the map inadvertently made a wrong turn. We walked a good fifteen minutes or so before realizing we’d left the main trail, then couldn’t agree on whether to double back or keep exploring (I’ll leave you to figure out which option Allison was in favor of).

"I could swear it was back here somewhere"

To make a long story short, we eventually found the main trail and continued another several miles before stopping along Butternut Lake to set up camp. Someone else had left behind a fire ring, which we took full advantage of.

Our campsite

Allison making dinner

The view was great and the weather was nice, but the only wildlife we encountered were some squirrels and wild turkey. Maybe next time we’ll be lucky enough to spot a black bear or timberwolf.

Packing up

The next morning, we packed everything up and hiked the last few miles back to the car. I would highly recommend this trail to anyone looking for a short, remote overnighter. Especially after Labor Day. We hiked 15 miles, and didn’t encounter a single other person on the trails.

Published in: on September 22, 2011 at 12:48 am  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Awesome idea. How late in the season is comfortable?

    • The overnight lows are already in the thirties…so I imagine September through mid-October would be ideal.

  2. Great overnight trip! Would love to do some exploring up there sometime. The campsite looked beautiful. The jealous meter is reading off the charts again!

  3. Nice hike…smores anyone?

  4. Glad you took my advice!!


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