Hiking and Exploring

Around every tree and rock formation is something beautiful and unexpected. You may encounter a deer grazing, or an otter playing along the river, on a hike. Maybe the trail leads you to a waterfall or complete solitude. Tie up your laces and get ready for a memorable journey, hiking and exploring in the Merrill area.


Bill Cross Wildlife Area

WI-107, Merrill, WI 
Bill Cross Wildlife Area is a 1,522-acre property located in Lincoln County. The property is split into two pieces from north to south by 2.5 miles of the Wisconsin River. The dominant habitat is northern hardwood forest. There is a small flowage on the southern end of the property on the west side of the river. The property encompasses 3.75 miles of Wisconsin River frontage and is mostly undeveloped with forested uplands adjoining the river. The east-facing river bank tends to be steep, dropping some 100 feet in elevation to the river's edge. The dominant habitat types are aspen and northern hardwoods. Several pine plantations are present within the property. Small kettle wetlands are scattered on the property west of the river. It is approximately 8 miles northwest of the city of Merrill. The property can be accessed on the east side of the Wisconsin River from Highway 107. The property can be accessed on the west side of the Wisconsin River from Tesch Road.
harrison hills

Harrison Hills

Hills, valleys and small lakes formed by glaciers of years past, provide a unique topography in Harrison Hills, located to the west of Highway 17 between Merrill and Rhinelander. Lincoln County Highway B winds through this hilly terrain, providing a wonderful driving experience. Harrison Hills offers opportunities for exploring, fishing, boating, hunting, hiking, biking, camping, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ATV trails. It's a year-round recreation area! Hikers can trek a 16-mile segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail that includes the trail's highest point, Lookout Mountain. At the top, old fire tower stairs allow visitors to peer down at the treetops. The Fire Tower Cabin at the top is not accessible.

Grandfather Falls Recreation Area - Ice Age Trail Segment

N4581 WI-107, Merrill, WI  54452
The Ice Age Trail is a designated National Scenic Trail that will run some 1,200 miles through Wisconsin once completed. The trail is administered by the National Park Service, and is constructed and maintained by numerous private and public agencies including, most notably, the Ice Age Trail Alliance, a non-profit member- and volunteer-based organization with 21 local chapters. The Ice Age Trail traverses Lincoln County, passing north of Merrill along the Wisconsin River near Grandfather Falls. The highest point on the entire trail is Lookout Mountain, in Lincoln County, at 1,920 feet.
Photo by Underdown Dells Project

Merrill Memorial Forest

W3259 Heineman Rd, Merrill, WI  54452
More than seven miles of hiking and biking trails were built in Merrill Memorial Forest in 2016. A new, 5.1-mile loop of hiking and trail feature breathtaking views of the Prairie Dells gorge. The one-mile marsh loop offers spectacular views of the Mathei Marsh. A 2.5 trail connects the new trail to existing trails in the Underdown Recreation Area.

Prairie River Dells Scenic Area

W2730 Prairie Dells Rd, Merrill, WI  54452
The Prairie Dells Scenic Area is located northeast of Merrill on Highway 17. The Prairie River is one of the largest and most productive trout streams in the area. The parking lot for the Prairie Dells Viewing Area is small and unassuming - just a gravel turnaround at the end of the road. Two trails lead from the parking lot, one heading upriver and the other down. The trail heading upriver leads to a small deck with a river vista just a short distance from the parking lot. The trail heading downriver, which leads out the back of the parking lot, provides an ideal sightseeing experience and spectacular views of the river and rock formations. It's just a short walk to the main viewing deck, where the valley opens up and yields stunning views of the river below. Steep rock walls make it a good idea to stay on the deck at this point.

The Riverbend Trail

S Park St, Merrill, WI  54452
Take a stroll on a freshly paved trail that connects Council Grounds State Park to the Culvers at Hwy 64 and Pine Ridge Avenue. The River Bend Trail is 5.5 miles and offers a great recreational experience. It has a paved trail with some side trails along the way.