Rusk County High Point Trip Report

Blue Hills (4 areas of 1,750+ ft)

Date: April 21, 2002
Authors: John Mitchler and Wendy Hecht

Whoa! Here is a route finding challenge for you! This cohp is in northwestern Wisconsin, north of Eau Claire in an active logging forest, and requires map and compass skill much like Mt. Curwood and Mt. Arvon in Michigan (before routes were established). The hike is a bushwhack through mostly immature forest with dense underbrush. We advise that this county be attempted only in low vegetation season so you can read the topography. Be careful here. You can get lost.

From exit 135 on US53 (225 miles from Madison), go east on US8. At mile 17.6, turn left (north) on CR F. At mile 23.1 turn left (west) on a good gravel logging road (near the "bump" sign on CR F). We took our time to study the topo map and mileage (did it twice) to be certain where the road led us. Previously Jobe Wymore and Wendy had gone too far up the road and were denied this cohp. From CR F, set your odometer. At mile 0.75 note the north-south snowmobile trail crossing. At mile 1.0 the gravel road ends but a dirt logging road continues to the right (north). Park at the end of the gravel road. When we were there, this was a stacking area for logs.

Before you begin the hike, it is advised that you highlight the four small 1750-foot contours. Highlight the 1700-foot contour as well to clarify the lay of the land. Set your compass bearing at 270, firmly grasp your topo map, take a deep breath, and begin your 2 hour hike.

Immediately ascend a hillock just west of the end of the gravel road. The object is to stay on the crest of the flat ridge for a quarter mile as it goes west and then northwest. By doing this, you'll be just northwest of the "N" in Wilkinson on the topo. Keep your compass out and read it often. Then hike west-northwest toward the two hills near the 27 on the topo. This is a pronounced hill in terrain of hummocks. The eastern of the two is much higher. Note the horseshoe shaped ridge with a swamp in the center. If you stand on the western area, the open end of the horseshoe is due north. It took us 30 minutes to reach this point.

Now hike northwest toward the two areas in the northwest quarter of section 27. If you carefully note the topo, you can spot the features on the landscape. The small western area is a relatively high rise. Note the enclosed swamp area to the north-northwest. Note too the significant drop to the west and northwest into a drainage. Use your compass.

Finally, head northeast to an obvious hill which stands high in the forest. To your west you may spot high ground. To your north, the northern edge of the Blue Hills descend 200 feet to the surrounding countryside. It took us 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach this point.

Now return to your vehicle by striking out east-southeast through the woods, cutting across terrain that drains to the north. Follow your compass bearing. It is preferred to veer more east than south, so as to catch the logging road that runs along the section line of 26. If you veer too far south, you may end up south of the gravel road. If you do this (like we did), watch for a logging road that is marked as the north-south snowmobile trail. This trail intersects the gravel road between the "O" and the "N" of Wilkinson on the topo. Always watch for features such as these (they may save you).

Use all your skills on this bugger. Know map and compass. Know how to pace and time your travel. Read the lay of the land. Note things such as logging areas, old roads, and vegetation. Good knowledge, skill, and experience will make this a fun hike in the woods. Not utilizing your knowledge, skill, and experience may give you a "lost in the woods" story to tell your grandkids. A photo by the log piles is a good momento of this trip. Future cophers could contact Weyerhauser to see if they have up-to-date maps of the area.