Welcome to the WashCo Compass Blog
The snow and ice have gone away in Washburn County which means the wildlife and vegetation are starting to 'spring' back to life. Now is the perfect time to lace up those hiking boots and venture into the great outdoors to hit up some of the exceptional hiking hot spots that Washburn County had to offer!
Whether it’s the best place to grab breakfast or a peaceful spot to take in the gorgeous views, there’s one thing we know for sure, our visitors (and locals!) know some of the best ways to explore our beautiful area so we took your comments to help us to create this great ‘go to’ guide. First up in our ‘Hidden Gems’ series is the welcoming northwoods community of Birchwood. In absolutely no order, mostly because they are all so great, here are some of Birchwood’s hidden gems.
It’s so fun to be a kid in Washburn County! Whether you’re spending a day at the beach, snapping selfies at the Giant Bluegill or taking a hike on the Totogatic Trail, there are tons of great ways to explore. There’s even more incentive to get out and explore the area if you grab a copy of the Youth Scavenger Hunt brochure. Kids under the age of 18 who complete five of the activities can come back to the Washburn County Visitor Center and claim a prize! Here are some of the options for you and your kiddos...
You asked us... So we turned around & asked you, the visitors, where are some of the best places to go, things to do, events to attend, and a little bit in between. The questions we often hear are what helped us concoct some of our top categories for The Best of WashCo. When you're in Washburn County be sure to stop at one (or all) of these places that were awarded "The Best Of"... we are sure they won't disappoint!
The big pines have a fresh white blanket of snow that sparkles in the sunshine, a fire in your cabin is keeping you nice and toasty, the trails are freshly groomed, you’re getting a flag or two with the catch of the day - what more could you ask for from a getaway to a northwoods’ winter wonderland? Those are all things you can find when you escape to Washburn County during the beautiful winter months.
Did you just realize that we’re two weeks away from Christmas?! Yeah, same here! If you’re anything like me, you’ve started out strong in your Christmas shopping, but didn’t get all of it done quite yet. I’ve been seeing some really great posts on social media from some of our local shops and found some great shopping ideas to share with you. This year has been really difficult for a lot of our area businesses, so we’d love to see you shop local as much as possible this holiday season. Check out these great gift ideas...
There’s no place like the cabin. As cliché as it is, all cabin-goers know it. For me, it’s a place to escape from the city, be in nature, slow down, and enjoy quality family time without the everyday distractions.
I got lucky and married into an old family cabin on Long Lake. I’ve been coming here with my husband Nick for the last seven years of its 115 year existence. The 2-hour drive up north feels shorter each year. The Scandinavian-style log cabin paired with the backdrop of Washburn County’s great white pines and a shimmering lake reminds me of a storybook fairytale. You can bet this place is filled with cabin history and memories
You don’t need to plan an extravagant vacation to visit Belgium if you are looking for gourmet, melt-in-your-mouth, luxury chocolates. All you need to do is take a wander into a few of our local stores before you notice a trend. What are these beautiful boxes of chocolates and why do so many local shops carry them? Flip over the box and you’ll see that they are indeed made locally.
Where can I find cranberries? That is one of the top questions we hear at the visitor center this time of year - and it’s a great question! While our beloved Stone Lake Cranberry Festival has been canceled for 2020, you don’t have to miss out on picking up Wisconsin’s State Fruit, the red, deliciously tart cranberry...
The vibrant fall landscape with its brilliant pops of yellow, orange and red is enough to remind you of a watercolor painting. If you love the scenery, you’re going to love the art galleries in our area even more! Here are some of my favorite stops...
It’s that time of the year again where the temperatures slowly start dropping and the leaves paint a vibrant canvas across the landscape. When you’re out with the family soaking up all the beautiful colors, be sure to stop by the Burch Barn for all kinds of family fun! The pumpkin patch is opening...
Roll down the windows, let the breeze blow through your hair and take in the crisp fall air! A drive through the northwoods of Washburn County will leave you absolutely in awe during the fall season. As the forests seem to be on fire with yellow, orange and red leaves, you’ll want to have a camera handy to capture all of the beauty surrounding you...
Let’s be honest here. We all pretty much love the vivid colors that fall brings to our landscape. It’s gorgeous. But, if we’re really being honest, it’s the tastes and treasures I find along my fall color path that truly make the memories for me! There’s nothing like watching a hard working cranberry farmer raking in those bright red berries or stopping off at a local brewpub to taste the latest brew infused with all of the succulent tastes of the season. Fall goes by so fast and there are so many amazing stops you can make, I tried to narrow it down for you while you venture through my beloved “backyard.”
While I am one for a good car ride with the windows down, to take in the fall colors… There is something to be said about paddling down the river during the peak fall color and being surrounded by the northwoods wilderness. So let me give you a few inside tips for heading out on the river. First things first, if you don’t have a canoe or kayak, the amazing river outfitters in Washburn County are here to help. They will get you set up, along with a floatation device, paddles, a shuttle to the landing & get you back to your vehicle without a hitch...
Summer seems to come and go so quickly - be sure you’re making the most of your summer in Washburn County! One of my all time favorite summer activities is a picnic lunch. With well over twenty parks in our county, you can find a perfect spot in any of our communities. Whether you want a quiet spot with stunning views of an area lake or river, a picnic table with a playground to wear out the kiddos, or a true summer picnic spot with a swimming area, you’ll find some absolute treasures on this list. Here are a few of my favorites broken down by community, but keep in mind you can find a full list of parks...
As you launch your canoe into the first in a series of extraordinary glacial lakes, you’re sure to notice the intense calm of the Washburn County forest land surrounding you. This little known gem is called the Birchwood Canoe Routes, located in the Sawmill Lake Primitive Area. It’s the perfect little spot to enjoy the solitude of a back-country experience, just a little closer to home. If you’re looking for a boundary waters experience without the travel time, this is it! Many refer to this area as their “mini boundary waters” as it has a similar feel, just on a much smaller scale...
Have you ever wondered how in the world such a great brewpub ended up in a quaint little town tucked away in the Northwoods? We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the Churchill family, the masterminds behind this incredible operation, to dig deep into what started all of this, into what started Round Man Brewing Company.
Let’s Get Back to the Beginning
If you’re from the area, there’s a small chance that you remember China Night at the Spooner Golf Course back in the late 80’s. Well, Jeff Churchill, also endearingly known as The Round Man, and his wife, Sue Churchill, certainly still do. This was their first real look at Washburn County, and just like that, a romance ensued. Shortly after that memorable night, Sue and Jeff found a lovely little rental cabin on Cable Lake right on the outskirts of Spooner. What’s that cliche? And the rest is history?
If you’ve lived in Washburn County for any length of time, you’ve probably at least heard of Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary. For those of you who haven’t spent much time at Hunt Hill, it’s about time for you to head out and do some exploring! While you won’t catch their normal educational programs out there right now, you will want to tune into their “Hunt Hill at Home” on Facebook. Every weekday at 1 p.m., their program director, Sage, presents on different environmental education topics. She’s already covered some great ones like animal tracks, planting seeds, and she even took the viewers...
November 6, 2019
The cool nights and frosty mornings have arrived & I don’t know about you, but it makes me fast forward to nights in front of the fire with cocoa and my loved ones! There are so many great things coming our way this holiday season in Washburn County that you just can’t help but feel jolly and get swept away in the spirit of it all.
September 18, 2019
The trees are changing and there is a crisp, coolness to the air - it’s fall, one of the most beloved seasons around the northwoods. And what’s not to love? The sights are beautiful, it’s finally sweater weather again, and the flavors are divine! Yes, flavors of fall are a real thing and around here we get spoiled with just how delicious (and local) they are!
August 24, 2019
Imagine riding along in a private train car, taking in the picturesque views of the Namekagon River on a beautiful fall afternoon…sipping a glass of wine. The new Wine & Cheese train ride at the Wisconsin Great Northern Railroad allows you to do just that! Make your visit to Washburn County extra special with a Sunday afternoon train ride. The Sky Parlour car, “Namekagon View”, features a mahogany bar, booth seating area, cocktail sofas and plush comfy lounge seats on the upper level. The dome top windows really make the trip an amazing way to see the oranges, golds, and reds of our northwoods this autumn. The bottom level features a 20 seat movie theater which will have a forward engineer eye view on its screen...
June 27, 2019
Bucking broncs, cheering fans, and fearless cowboys. There’s nothing quite like cheering on a cowboy as he holds on tight for the ride of his life. From the cute little cowboys and cowgirls just learning the ropes on the sheep to the experienced team ropers, you’re sure to enjoy the action-packed performances of the Heart of the North Spooner Rodeo. Spooner has been blessed to be the home of a professional rodeo for 66 years running. Did you know that Spooner Rodeo has won the award of Large Rodeo of the Year for the past four out of five years in the Great Lakes Circuit...
June 4, 2019
Did you know that Shell Lake, Wisconsin is home to the longest continuous running jazz camp in the nation?! Did you also know that your middle or high school student can take part in jazz camp, concert band camp, show choir camp or any number of the 16 youth camps that are offered there? So, what is this place? It’s the Shell Lake Arts Center! With over 50 years of experience, the SLAC provides a positive environment where kids can further develop and explore their artistic talents...
June 3, 2019
Have you ever wondered where that monster walleye came from that you caught on your favorite Wisconsin lake? Or what about that first musky that you caught with your grandpa? Well, there’s a good chance that it came from a little hatchery located in Spooner, Wisconsin. Now don’t get us wrong, there is a lot of natural reproduction in Wisconsin lakes, but the Wisconsin DNR definitely helps maintain (and boost) our fish populations with their fish management programs via their fish hatcheries. Spooner, located in the heart of Northwest Wisconsin, is home to the Governor Tommy G. Thompson State Fish Hatchery, known to many as the largest musky hatchery in the world...
May 22, 2019
From a small clay studio set up in a church to The Potter’s Shed that we know and love today, there’s an incredible story behind the music, art, gorgeous garden, and even the fairy doors that make up this well known attraction. Affectionately referred to by their local patrons as simply “The Shed”, it’s no wonder that they won the award for Washburn County’s Tourism Business of the Year in 2018. For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Potter’s Shed and all it offers, this is one of Washburn County’s most well-known and well-loved places to visit and spend time.
May 15, 2019
Nearly 1,000 sparkling lakes, good old-fashioned resorts and Friday Night Fish Fries, Washburn County is the ideal destination to plan your summer getaway. Washburn County is located in Northwest Wisconsin, directly between Eau Claire and Duluth/Superior. You could say that Washburn County is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, but that might be an understatement. With nearly 1,000 lakes, it's one of the premier destinations for outdoor recreation in the state of Wisconsin. Home to both the Bluegill and Walleye Capitals of Wisconsin (Birchwood and Long Lake), fishing is a great family sport to get out and enjoy the water. Here's our "short list" of some of the ways we love to experience Washburn County!
April 29, 2019
While you’re out looking for your new honey hole for the upcoming fishing season, Washburn County will be sure to have what you’re looking for. Here are some fun fishing & lake facts about our area that you may want to know while exploring for the perfect spot to cast a line.
- Did you know Washburn County has nearly 1,000 lakes?! 964 to be exact, according to Washburn County Lakes & Rivers Association (WCLRA). Not all of those lakes are named, but they are out there and some of the best fishing can be found on those little “no name” lakes. If you pick up a Washburn County Highway Map you will see where the public access landings are for you to take advantage of.