What is the Great Headwaters Trail System?

The Goal:
Forty miles of trail.

It’s a grand vision for the Northwoods of Wisconsin – a vision in the making: More than 40 miles of 10-foot-wide hard surface biking and walking trails connecting all the town centers in eastern Vilas County.

The trails of the Great Headwaters Trails system will connect four town centers in eastern Vilas County – Eagle River, Conover, Phelps and Land O’ Lakes. Once complete, the trail system will connect to existing off-road biking-walking trail systems – the 45-mile Heart of Vilas Trail, 13-mile Three Eagle Trail, and 37-mile Wilderness Lakes Trail.

Conover-Phelps Trail

The Conover-Phelps Trail became the first leg of trail development for the Great Headwaters Trails System. This trail will connect the town of Conover to the town of Phelps. Construction began in 2015 and continues to expand today. Check out our trail construction progress this summer.

This segment of the Great Headwaters Trails begins at the Conover Town Park, passing through the business district and following mostly railroad grade, running past marshland, beaver habitat, and winding through the Nicolet National Forest. Currently 3.2 miles are completed with an additional 5.5 miles in construction this summer.

The final 2.2 miles, paralleling County Hwy K and E, are scheduled to be completed in 2018 where it terminates at the top of North Twin Lake in Phelps.

River Trail

The River Trail will connect Eagle River to St. Germain, linking up with the 45-mile Heart of Vilas biking-hiking trail system.  Great Headwaters Trails has an initial conceptual plan for this 10-mile trail running parallel to Highway 70 along the Wisconsin River. Positive preliminary meetings have been held with the Department of Transportation, local trail contractors, local residents, business owners and municipal officials. Estimated time of construction-to be determined.

Once completed, riders and walkers will be able to travel from Three Lakes to Mercer, Wisconsin, nearly 75 miles of continuous trail.

Eagle River City Connectors

The Eagle River City Connector provides a safe bike lane into Eagle River’s Historic Depot and downtown. The Connector bike path was installed in 2014. It’s the first in-town bike path for Eagle River. The Connector resulted from a partnership of Great Headwaters Trails, the Three Eagle Trail Foundation, Tara Lila, LLC, the City of Eagle River, the Rotary Club, Tribute Brewing Co., the Eagle River Area Chamber of Commerce, and a number of local businesses and individuals. (View Connector details.)

The Connector links to the Three Eagle Trail, with its 13-plus miles of stunning vistas and bridges, where it eventually connects to the town of Three Lakes. In the City of Eagle River, planning goes on for additional bike paths and routes for convenient travel within the city itself.

Plans are currently underway to create a new city connector around the Kwik Trip facility.

Eagle River-Conover Trail

The Eagle River-Conover Trail will continue the trail system from the current Conover-Phelps Trail south to Eagle River. Development plans are underway to determine the best route for biking-walking users.  Estimated time of construction-to be determined.

Conover-Land O’ Lakes Trail

The Conover-Land O’ Lakes Trail will take bikers and walkers 12 miles north from Conover to Land O’Lakes, right on the Wisconsin-Michigan border. A beautiful area, it’s also the starting point of the Wilderness Lakes Trails system, a 37-mile loop that circles from Land O’ Lakes west to Thousand Island Lake Road, north to Hwy 2, east to Watersmeet, MI, and south back into Wisconsin. The Wilderness Lakes Trails system encircles the Sylvania Wilderness, 18,000 acres of woodlands and lakes that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System. Estimated time of construction-to be determined.