The Backyard Tourist: Enjoy the Solitude of Public Lands this Spring

Trees and shrubs will be budding out over the next few weeks and make wonderful photo subjects.

Considering all the craziness of this pandemic; lock-downs, social distancing, working from home, schools closed and kids schooling from home, we all need to find time to get outside and save our sanity with a little fresh air. Luckily for those of us who live in the north woods of Burnett County Wisconsin we have thousands of acres of public lands to go to for some solitude outside our homes.

We have been told that it is okay to go for short drives and seek solitary exercise, like running and jogging, biking and hiking. There are dozens of established hiking trails and miles and miles of roadways to traverse in Burnett County, WI. From the hiking trails along the St. Croix River in the Governor Knowles State Forest to the gravel roads and hunter walking trails of Crex Meadows Wildlife Area, there is no shortage

Spotted Sandpipers at Paint Mine Road Landing on the St. Croix River

of places to walk and enjoy the springtime beauty of the woods. Bike riders can enjoy the Gandy Dancer State Trail (bike passes required and seasonal restrictions may apply) but also the many miles of paved back roads and scenic drives throughout the county. Crex Meadows and Fish Lake Wildlife Area, both near Grantsburg, and Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area, north of Webb Lake, are great “Sunday Drive” destinations for bird watching, wildlife viewing and enjoying the beautiful landscapes of sedge meadows and brush prairies.


The vast sedge marshes and flowages at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area provide numerous opportunities for landscape photography.

I recommend getting out there if you can. The sunshine and fresh air is good for you, both in body and soul. Be safe, don’t gather in crowds, and maintain “social distance” from each other. But get outside as often as you can.

If you are coming from outside the county to visit our great natural places, please remember that people live here too, and our families are the ones serving you at our restaurants and gas stations. We welcome you, but we ask that you continue to follow the guidelines from our government officials about travel and recreation during this time.  And don’t forget to tip!

-Kim Wheeler, March 21, 2020