Plans and Progress
Since the Great Headwaters Trails Foundation was incorporated in 2010, it has become a 501(c)(3), recruited talented volunteers, worked with local and state entities, raised over $2,000,000 and created a vision for the community.
To date, Great Headwaters Trails has built the Eagle River Connector Trail and completed the Conover-Phelps Trail. Currently our focus is on developing the River Trail. That 10 mile trail would connect bike riders and walkers to the 55-mile Heart of Vilas Trail that currently ends in St. Germain and the 13-mile Thee Eagle Trail that goes from Eagle River to Three Lakes.
Latest on the River Trail - GHT's retired engineers did a study of several routing options to provide clarity to questions raised early in the summer of 2023 about the best route for the River Trail. Their findings confirmed that the route that had been proposed in 2018 was the best in all categories of study: providing safety to bike riders and walkers, serving the most residents and businesses, being the least expensive to built, and having the fewest complications for development. Click here to see the executive summary of their findings. For a project overview, click here.
Latest on the Conover-Phelps Trail - At Torch Lake the county has a park with playground, a beach, and a campground. It's all about 2 miles south of Conover on the west side of STH 45. Last year, GHT enlisted a team of senior engineering students from UW-Platteville to study a possible bike trail down to Torch Lake from the west end of the Conover-Phelps bike trail at CTH K. They came up with a conceptual plan that is worth looking into. Click here to see the conceptual plan. In fall of 2023 a team of GHT folks went on site to check out that plan. Now they are ready to have a useful conversation with members of the Conover Town Board and the Vilas County Board if they are interested in developing that bike-ped trail connection between Torch Lake and downtown Conover.
The Conover-Phelps Trail
The 11 mile long trail is now complete! Here's a map!
The western trailhead is in the Conover Town Park on Hwy K, just east of Hwy 45. Parking, water, picnic area, bicycle repair station and restrooms are available. Eleven miles east is the trailhead in Phelps' Lakefront Pines Park.
The trail offers stunning views of wetlands, meadows and woodlands and provides a connection between the centers of Conover and Phelps.
Become a Friend of the Conover-Phelps Trail!!
Help keep the trail a beautiful, safe and user-friendly place for hiking and biking. Please join us! For more information, contact us at email@example.com or 715-891-3123.
The Conover-Phelps Trail was built in three stages.
Phase 1 - The western 3.2 miles was completed in 2015 and opened with a ribbon-cutting event at Conover’s first Ride in the Park on May 29, 2015.
Phase 2 - The middle 5.5 mile section was built from July to October 2017:
- July 31 - Construction began at Muskrat Creek Road. Good progress was made in this wet section, about 1500 feet long. Rain late in the week forced construction to the section's east end at Song Hill Lane and County Highway K.
- Though August 7 - About 2500 feet of base gravel was applied on the east end of the trail.
- August 8 - Construction moved back to the west end of the trail section. The goal was to get culverts in place up to the 4000' station.
- Week of August 14th was the most challenging since the trail between Stations 4000’ and 5000’ is the wettest section. Once Station 5000 was reached, construction progress went significantly faster.
- Week Four - Construction work included scraping off the top level of organic matter from the railroad grade, leveling the base, adding gravel, and grading. That enabled dump trucks to drive over the graded gravel to reach deeper parts of the construction site.
- Week 6 & 7 - By September 9, the entire trail was covered with base gravel. Final grading began the week of September 19th. Once completed, the trail was ready for the smooth Trail Bond top surface. Six pass-through gates arrived and were sent out to be powder coated.
- Week 11& 12 – Over two weeks in mid-October, a paving machine added the final touch - surfacing the trail with Trail Bond.
Phase 3 - Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, this final, easternmost section was completed in fall of 2021. About 2 miles long and hilly, much of it is paved to avoid erosion.
The ribbon cutting for the entire completed trail was held in Phelps Lakefront Pines Park on May 28, 2022. Kiosks in the parks at both ends of the trail will display Yard & Mile Club lists that acknowledge all those whose donations made the trail a reality.
Completing Phase 2 and 3 - A Photo Collection
Eagle River Connector
The Connector bike path was installed in 2014. It’s the first in-town bike path for Eagle River, and it lets Three Eagle Trail users pedal safely up to the doorstep of the city’s downtown. 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.)