Welcome to the WashCo Compass Blog
Wide open spaces. The great northwoods. The middle of nowhere. Whatever you call it, we know what you mean. The outdoor adventures are endless in Washburn County, whether exploring one of the many trails, enjoying time on the water, or just sitting back to put your toes in the sand - there’s no wrong way to enjoy Washburn County’s outdoors! And, with so many options we knew that this had to be included in our Best of WashCo series. The nominations came in across the board, but you voted and we listened. So without further ado let’s get to the good part...
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...
Made in WashCo: Round Man Brewing Co.
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?
Explore Local: Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary
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...
Y’all sunsets are one of my favorite things...ever! And, I might be a little biased but I think Washburn County has some of the best spots to view sunsets. There are so many nights my little and I hop in the car and drive to look at “the pretty sky and cotton candy clouds”, as she would call them. I have no shame in the amount of sunset photos I have taken on my phone (and will continue to take). So, needless to say this might be one of my favorite Best of WashCo categories - they’re all good, but I am such a sucker for sunsets!
The hundreds of miles of trails in Washburn County are one of my favorite ways to get out and enjoy the northwoods. Even if you’re not able to make your way to the area right now, the trails will be waiting for you! There are so many great trails throughout our area that it made choosing just three a tough choice but we listened to our voters & here is the top three trails for 2020!
Best of WashCo: The Shopping Bag 2020
If you are anything like me, it’s getting to be that time in the winter season where you are searching for ways to beat the winter blues. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to get outside on the amazing trails in Washburn County, but I’m missing the lazy Saturdays of shopping at the local farmers’ market and wandering through the authentic downtowns. Wait, why do we need to wait until summer? We don’t! So, let’s not!
January 31, 2020
To kick things off I wanted to talk about The Best Pour. Who doesn’t love a yummy drink? This category was a very tight race and so was Best Bites - but we will get to that in a different month this year. The winner that we are recognizing for The Best Pour in 2020 is Alley Cats Coffee located on the north end of Spooner.
Gearing Up for the Holiday Season...
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.
Flavors of Fall
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!
Train Rides, Tastes & Colors of Fall in Washburn County
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...
Award Winning Spooner Rodeo
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...
WashCo Spotlight: Shell Lake Arts Center Youth Camps
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...
WashCo Spotlight: Spooner Fish Hatchery
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...
The Potter's Shed: Behind the Scenes
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.
A Thousand Lakes of Fun
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!
WashCo Water Facts
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.