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about the blue hills trail

The Blue Hills Trail of northern Wisconsin's Rusk County is a 22-mile system that is considered one of the most scenic cross-country ski trails in the Midwest. The trail's many loops and intersections allow skiers to make their outings as long and challenging or as short and easy as desired.

In addition to skiing, the trail is open to snowshoeing, hiking and biking during the non-winter seasons, and hunting in the fall.

Read More

The Blue Hills Trail was established in 1987 by a group of local cross-country skiers. Originally incorporated as the Rusk County Trail Association, the organization reincorporated as the Blue Hills Trail Association (BHTA) in the fall of 2006 to reflect the increasingly regional nature of the operation and to facilitate the attainment of 501c3 nonprofit status.

The group remains dependent on annual membership dues, donations, and the cooperation of the Rusk County Forestry Department for its continued existence.

New members, suggestions and financial support are all greatly appreciated.

Thanks to all the individuals and businesses that support the Blue Hills Trail System year round.

Please consider leaving your legacy of support by including the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc. in your will.

Trail Maps

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Download
a PDF
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Get the Avenza map
Trail maps are available at the trailheads on both the East Side and the West Side.
All intersections are clearly labeled with "You Are Here" maps.

Please: no motor vehicles, no walking on groomed ski trails, no horses

(Click map to view a full-size image)
Blue Hills Trail East Side Map
Observe caution and please yield to skiers traveling downhill.
Trail maps are available at the trailheads on both the East Side and the West Side.
All intersections are clearly labeled with "You Are Here" maps.

Please: no motor vehicles, no walking on groomed ski trails, no horses

(Click map to view a full-size image)
Blue Hills Trail West Side Map
Observe caution and please yield to skiers traveling downhill.
PDF icon
Download
a PDF
PDF icon
Get the Avenza map
Trail maps are available at the trailheads on both the East Side and the West Side.
All intersections are clearly labeled with "You Are Here" maps.

Please: no motor vehicles, no walking on groomed ski trails, no horses

(Click map to view a full-size image)
Blue Hills Trail East Side Core Loop Map
Observe caution and please yield to skiers traveling downhill.
PDF icon
Download
a PDF
Trail maps are available at the trailheads on both the East Side and the West Side.
All intersections are clearly labeled with "You Are Here" maps.

Please: no motor vehicles, no walking on groomed ski trails, no horses

(Click map to view a full-size image)
Blue Hills Trail East Side Snowshoe Trails Map
Observe caution and please yield to skiers traveling downhill.
PDF icon
Download
a PDF

Driving Directions

Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 45.536475 latitude, -91.407087 longitude

Travel 8 miles northwest of Bruce on County O; watch for Fire Lane road one-half mile east of the Christie Mountain downhill ski area. Then travel 2.5 miles north on Fire Lane Road. Signs to the Blue Hills Trail will show you the way.

Mileage from various cities to the Blue Hills Trail

  • Rice Lake : 20 miles
  • Eau Claire : 75 miles
  • Rhinelander : 120 miles
  • Duluth-Superior : 120 miles
  • Marshfield : 120 miles
  • Wausau : 135 miles
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul : 120 miles
  • La Crosse : 140 miles
  • Madison : 245 miles
  • Milwaukee : 315 miles
  • Chicago : 400 miles

Get Detailed Driving Directions

On the map above, please click the red map point. This will open up a new browser tab where you can enter your starting address to access detailed directions to the Blue Hills Trail.

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Warming House Words

A bride and groom sit in grass and kiss during their wedding in Missoula Montana.
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Came all the way from Italy, snowshoeing was so much fun!
A bride and groom sit in grass and kiss during their wedding in Missoula Montana.
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Lots of frogs along the trail.  Great day for a hike!
A bride and groom sit in grass and kiss during their wedding in Missoula Montana.
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Great mountain bike trails!
A bride and groom sit in grass and kiss during their wedding in Missoula Montana.
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Up North for the big deer hunt.  I've hunted this area about 35 years and have loved it.
A bride and groom sit in grass and kiss during their wedding in Missoula Montana.
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Fantastic Day! Fantastic grooming! Pinch me - I think I'm dreaming!

25 miles of trails

Endless beauty

Memories for a lifetime

Shops & Lodging
Please show your gratitude by visiting the following bike and ski shops and nearby lodging that support the Blue Hills Trail System.

View a list of Blue Hills Trail donors
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Bike & Ski Shops

New Moon Ski & Bike (Hayward)
Outdoor Ventures (Hayward)
Out There (Rice Lake)
Spring Street Sports (Chippewa Falls)

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Nearby Lodging

AmericInn by Wyndham (Ladysmith) 715-532-7811
Canoe Bay Inn (Chetek)
Rice Lake Tourism (general lodging info)
Rusk County Tourism (general lodging info)

Trail Amenities & Safety

The Blue Hills Trail provides a heated warming house at the East Side trailhead where you can change out of your day clothes and into your ski gear if desired. The furnace operates from early December until winter disappears.

Map information, the trail log book, and seating are inside for your convenience.

Separate men and women's pit toilets are a short walk from the warming house.

There is no cell service or running water, so please plan accordingly.

During the coronavirus pandemic, we require a mask in the warming house. Thank you in advance for respecting our facilities!

Frequently Asked Questions

Expand All Questions

Where are you located?

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Please see above for directions.

Are ATVs and snowmobiles allowed?

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The entire trail system is non-motorized and intended for silent sports activities. Please report violators to the Rusk County Sheriff's office at 715-532-2200.

What are the fees?

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At minimum, we request a $5 per person, per day donation at the trailhead. Please contribute $10 or more. The Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc. is a non-profit corporation with an annual budget of around $20,000.  Please support us either through daily donations, memberships, or separate donations. We are run entirely by volunteers so all your monies go toward maintaining and improving the Blue Hills Trail.

How can I become a member of the Blue Hills Trail Association?

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Please click here to take out a membership. Thank you - your support helps us remain financially stable.

How can I donate to the Blue Hills Trail Association?

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Please click here to donate. Thank you - your support helps us keep these trails available to all. Click here for a list of donors for our current fiscal year. Please consider leaving your legacy of support by including the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc in your will.

Do you have maps of the trail system?

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Please see the Maps section above for trail maps.

Do you groom for classic skiing?

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You are welcome to stride (classic ski) on any of the trails. Groomers place classic track on most of the trail sections, often totaling 25 km. We do not place track on steeper downhills, some downhill curves, narrow/rough sections, or technically challenging trails. After some heavier snowfalls it may take a couple grooming sessions before the snow is ready for fresh classic track. Setting track often requires a magical combination of adequate fresh snow, the right humidity, and cooperative temperatures.

Is snowshoeing allowed?

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Snowshoers are welcome. Dedicated snowshoe trails start behind the warming house. Please visit to view our snowshoe trails: Nordic Pines Trail, Rolling Oaks Trail, and Ridges Trail. If snowshoeing on the ski trail, please stay toward the side of the groomed surface to lessen your impact on the skating lane - and it goes without saying that you should avoid the classic track.

Do you rent skis and/or snowshoes?

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We don't offer rentals - visit the Shops & Lodging section above for suggestions of ski shops that may offer rentals. Snowshoes may be available for loaner use at the Visitor's Center in Ladysmith.

Is it OK if I walk or hike on the ski trail?

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No! Walking on any portion of the groomed ski trail ruins the grooming. Similar to the surface of an ice skating rink, we try to maintain a smooth surface for skate skiers, and of course the classic tracks need to be crisp and clean.

Are dogs allowed?

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Winter ski season:

     Dogs are not allowed on the East Side of the trail system.

     Dogs are welcome on the West Side of the trail system.

Non-winter:

     Dogs are welcome throughout the trail system.

Are horses allowed?

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Horses are not allowed on the East Side of the trail system. During dry conditions in summer and fall, horses are allowed on the West Side - the best access is at Letter A.

Are snow bikes allowed?

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No.

Are bathrooms available?

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We maintain separate pit toilets for men and women. Find them north of the warming house at the East Side trail head.

Do you have running water?

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No running water is available. Please supply your own hydration.

Do you have electricity available?

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No.

Is the warming house heated?

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Yes. During the ski season, the warming house is heated to 62 degrees F during the daylight hours and 45 degrees F overnight.

Are the comments in the logbook in the warming house available online?

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As of December 2010, many of those comments will be posted on our blog. Click here for archived comments from the warming house logbook.

Is cell phone service available?

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No. But you may be able to receive cell phone service about 3 miles south of the warming house on County Highway O.

Where is the closest lodging?

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Please visit the Shops & Lodging section above. More lodging is available at Christie Mountain, Bruce, Weyerhaeuser, Ladysmith, & Rice Lake. Lodging information is also available at these websites: Rice Lake Tourism and Rusk County Tourism.

Do you send out trail updates?

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Yes! To receive grooming updates, special events, news, announcements, volunteer days, and more, please sign up for our email newsletter in the subscribe section below. Your privacy is important to us, and your information is never shared.

How can I contact you?

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Please visit the contact page to reach us.

Blue Hills Trail

instagram updates
@bluehillstrailwisconsin
Every other year our volunteers replace all the intersection maps. That’s 60 maps, but who’s counting? Combined with excellent signage, it makes it easy to get your bearings on the Blue Hills Trail. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #trailvolunteers #xcskitrails #foresttherapy #findyourselfoutside
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Good hiking in early December. Frost is entering the ground, the ski trails are ready for snow. Photos show the biggest oak tree in the County Forest; hiking on the ‘Far East’ trail; and our Gator doing some trail work on the West Side trails. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #trailwork #hikingwisconsin #weneedsnow
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Big News! Wisconsin's Blue Hills Trail has revised its website, its maps, its blog - and added an Instagram account. Spread the word. VISIT THE BLOG for details – link in bio ⬆️ #bluehillstrailwisconsin #crosscountryskiing #skinnyski #ruskcountywi #ricelakewi #travelwisconsin #tomterrifik
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1.5” big fluffy parachute snowflakes today. Might actually be able to ski on some of our trails — even though the underlying ground isn’t yet frozen. #bluehillstrailwisconsin #winterinwisconsin #crosscountryskiing #xcskiing
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Tight corner. Placed orange driveway markers at the edge. Gotta keep our groomers on track. #bluehillstrailwisconsin
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After unseasonably warm weather in the first week of November, more wintry weather will start to freeze the trails. Hopefully x-country skiing is just around the corner. This photo was taken on the East Side trails - it shows one of our most important bridges. #bluehillstrailwisconsin
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Bridge building in October successfully spanned a small creek that was always a challenge to summertime mowing & wintertime grooming of our ski trails. #bluehillstrailwisconsin
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