Lost Canoe (280/681)

Lost Canoe includes a nice array of natural communities including northern mesic and dry-mesic forests, fen, and several lakes southwest of Boulder Junction in central Vilas County.  A parking area and trailhead are found on the north side of Nebish Lake Road west of Starrett Road.  A total of 11 miles of trails loop around several of the lakes into and out of the natural area.  Lost Canoe is so named for a lake that forms much of its northern border and strangely, not for Pallete Lake which it completely encircles or Escanaba Lake which it mostly surrounds.

Our hike at Lost Canoe was one of the first with my daughter and was perhaps shorter than it otherwise might have been on this accord.  That said, it was still an enjoyable hike through the northern forests and along the shores of the lakes.  We headed northwest along the trail between Escanaba and Pallette Lakes.  One can follow the canoe portage trail east or west a short distance to reach the lakes.  The latter offers a sandy beach and better photographic opportunities than the former.  Following the main trail further north leads to a T-intersection and shelter; useful for a short respite.  With the little one starting to grow weary, I used the limited remaining time to head east along the trail between Escanaba and Lost Canoe Lakes.  Hemlocks begin to dominate the forest canopy in this  area and a well-maintained boardwalk meanders over the soggier areas.  I would recommend this site for your classical northern forest experience and consider it to be one of the more family-friendly sites, complete with a defined parking area and actual trails.  I plan to return here in the future for a more in-depth exploration, particularly of the old-growth hemlocks on the eastern shore of Escanaba Lake as well as the fen/wetland area on its southeast.

More of my photos (and full-res) from Lost Canoe can be viewed here.

Additional Information

SNA # 108
County Vilas
Natural Communities / Geology Northern Mesic Forest, Northern Dry-Mesic Forest, Fen, Lake
Size (Acres) 1118
Parking Parking Area (gravel)
Trails Yes
Easy to Find Yes
Best Seen By Foot
Marked Boundaries No
Ownership Wisconsin DNR
Located Within

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest

Dates Visited 9.2.12

Vilas
Vilas County
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