Helping build the River Trail in the Age of Zoom

Despite COVID-19, progress on a biking and walking trail between Eagle River and St. Germain is moving forward.

The River Trail Commission continues to meet, and the Friends of the River Trail (FoRT) has also been meeting and getting ready to swing into action.

Zoom provided one way for the public to be present at the most recent, May 23, Commission meeting. In the photo above, former commission chair Steve Favorite (far left) talks via the laptop computer to those joining the meeting online, while the current commissioners, Ron Kressin of Eagle River (to the right of Favorite), chairman Jim Swenson of St. Germain (by the laptop) and Joe Spitz of Cloverland (far right) also listen in.

FoRT is for all those who want to lend a hand to get the trail developed. Anyone wanting to be invited to FoRT’s next meeting – also via Zoom – in early June can contact Jeff Currie and Jim Meiers at or call 715-617-0080.

River Trail will add 10 miles to the 60-mile Heart of Vilas Trail System, and serve the most densely populated corner of Vilas County.

In addition to being a recreational trail along the Wisconsin River, River Trail will provide a safe way for people to bike or walk to get to businesses, visit neighbors and go to places of worship in the four towns it connects. Those towns are St. Germain, Cloverland, Lincoln and Eagle River, the largest municipality in the county and the county seat.

“River Trail will make Eagle River a part of the popular and well-known Heart of Vilas Trail System that now includes Mercer, Manitowish Waters, Boulder Junction, Sayner, and St. Germain,”  points out Kim Emerson, executive director of the Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce. “As our local economy rebounds, the new trail will  help this area come back stronger than ever.”

Trail development is being done under the direction of the tri-town River Trail Commission composed of chairman Jim Swenson, supervisor from St. Germain, Joe Spitz, supervisor from Cloverland, and Ron Kressin, alderman from Eagle River.

“River Trail will bring a beneficial change to pretty much everyone in the southeast corner of the county,” said Swenson.  “It will be a big plus for drawing visitors and a convenience for people living or staying anywhere in the area. It should also be a draw for families to move up here.”

Great Headwaters Trails (GHT), a local nonprofit, works with the Commission. Under co-project managers Gary Meister and Carlton Schroeder, GHT developed a detailed conceptual plan which was favorably reviewed by the DOT and DNR. “Then we had MSA Professional Services conduct a Feasibility Study,” said Schroeder. “The full study report was put out in February for feedback from officials from the county and Eagle River, the River Trail commissioners, officers of both local snowmoble clubs, and the DOT and DNR.”