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Missing link between two recreational trails will be finished soon

Bearskin State Trail  Photo: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Bearskin State Trail Photo: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

TOMAHAWK, Wis. (WXPR) -- A popular state hiking, biking and snowmobile trail in Lincoln and Oneida counties will soon be finished and when that happens, users can go from Tomahawk to Merrill on the trail.

The Tomahawk Chamber of Commerce announced the first phase of the Hiawatha­ Bearskin Trail in nearing completion. The 18 mile Bearskin trail was completed in the 1970's and the Hiawatha Trail portion in 1989. The trails use a former railroad bed. There is a six ­mile section being completed that will link the two trails says spokesperson Jim Wise.  "The DNR is finishing up a small piece that will make it a useable trail all the way from Tomahawk to Minocqua. The part they are working on is about one mile long and it will be done in the next month. We're looking at an August 23 ribbon­ cutting dedication ceremony and party."

Wise says the longer trails become traveler destinations, citing the Elroy­-Sparta trail in southwestern Wisconsin as an example. He says it's a long­ term sustainable economy crossing many different user groups.  "It's a snowmobile trail in the winter, so it isn't just used three months of the year. The bicycle­ hiking non-­motorized folks use it in the summer months and in the winter months the motorized folks can use it for snowmobiling. It makes the tax dollars work a lot further and it brings in two separate economies that sometimes don't work well with each other, but in this case work well with each other."

Wise says many communities also enjoy the travelers coming to use the trail, including Rhinelander.

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