Bearskin and Hiawatha Trails now connected for 32 miles of recreation
It took 25 years to complete, but last Saturday a ribbon cutting was held to commemorate the connection of the Bearskin and Hiawatha trails in Cassian. With the two trails connected, now bicyclists, snowmobilers and hikers will have 32 miles of uninterrupted trail to walk or ride.
Jim Wise, a Tomahawk businessman, was instrumental in getting the project completed.
“The Bearskin trail was built in the 1980s and the Hiawatha was completed in 1990,” said Wise. “The reason the two trails were never connected was primarily due to funding.”
The project cost $100,000 to complete although there are still some parts of the trail that will need to be added as they are currently on township roads at this time.
“The Department of Natural Resources is in the process of getting easement permits from private landowners,” said Wise. “We are calling this Phase one completion. There will need to be more work done but right now you can go from Minocqua to Tomahawk on this trail uninterrupted.”
Wise also noted that state Representative Mary Czaja was a big part of getting funding for the trail to be completed.
“I sat down with Governor Walker and told him this was 25 years in the making,” Czaja said. “I definitely wanted this to be a priority during my time in office. It has been a long time coming.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was marked by many local and state dignitaries attending. In fact, Wisconsin’s First Lady Tonette Walker was slated to fly in, but her plane was delayed due to fog. However, Senator Tom Tiffany, Representatives Mary Czaja, Rob Swearingen, and representatives from the DNR, Department of Transportation and the Department of Tourism all made an appearance.
This trail ends/starts in Minocqua and is part of an old railroad bed that has been smoothed and graveled with crushed granite. The trail goes through portions of Oneida and Lincoln County stopping at Sara Park in Tomahawk.
In addition to the political dignitaries in attendance there were representatives from several other organizations as well. Employees of Mel’s Sporting Shop were there letting people try out bikes, Tim Thompson Northwest ambassador for the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation, was also in attendance. In addition, about 60 well wishers attended coming on bike and in car.
“This trail will be a wonderful asset to these communities,” said Wise. “We wanted to provide some healthy recreating for families and this trail will certainly do that.”