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The Blue Hills Trail Association Inc pursued an aggressive agenda for trail work this summer.  Now in mid August, we feel we've reached most of our goals.  Many thanks to the Rusk County Forestry Department, the Wisconsin DNR, and the Rusk County Wildlife Restoration Association (WRA) for their help.

When enjoying these trails while hiking/hunting/skiing this fall and winter, take a moment to consider the work that goes into taming mother nature. The past couple days I gained a new appreciation of the difficult task of mowing our trail system. Club member Steve Porn operated the skidsteer-mower donated by the WRA, and I cleared debris ahead of him while scouting for hidden rocks. A few hours after starting the mowing, Steve's skidsteer slipped off a steep embankment and was stuck in a perilous spot. After Steve cautiously exited the machine, we phoned for help and were rescued by one of our highly skilled local DNR dozer operators. Three hours after the skidsteer left the trail, we were back in action.

Mowing continued into the next day. Thanks to the drying conditions this summer, we felt fortunate to reach our goal of negotiating and mowing about ten typically soft muddy wet sections on the most distant trails of the Eastside. As we were completing the final hour of mowing operations, we found one of the many hidden rocks the Blue Hills has to offer. The head of the bolt securing the mower blade was sheared off, the blade went flying like a piece of shrapnel -- and fortunately humans and equipment survived without significant injury. Hard work, but enjoyable time in the Hills.

As stated earlier, I have a much greater appreciation for those that have mowed these trails the past 30 years. And I'm excited about the other trail work that was accomplished this summer. A lot of dozing of eroded areas was performed in July, then seeded within the past couple weeks. Grass has sprouted, those newly greened trail sections look inviting, and should provide good bird hunting habitat in addition to improvements that will enhance our winter cross country skiing.Thanks to the following for help with summer trail maintenance/improvement:

  • Rusk County Forestry - major culvert planning, provision of the culvert, tree clearing in anticipation of mowing, mowing of the Westside trails and portions of the Eastside trails, and provision of grass seed.
  • DNR (Ladysmith Center) - planning and dozing of multiple trail segments to enhance erosion control, dozing for insertion of the culvert, guidance with placement of the culvert silt fence, and rescue operation of the immobilized skidsteer mower.
  • Blue Hills Trail Assn Inc. - $300 fee for DNR culvert permit, gas for mowing operations.
  • Rands Trucking (Ladysmith) - two rolls of silt fence (donated).
  • BHTA members Frank Lowry, Jan Paulsen and Tom Paulsen (bridge repair); Tom Paulsen and Jonathan Stanley (trail inspection); John Carr, Tom Paulsen, Jerry Schneider (install silt fence around new culvert and spread grass seed); Dan Bale and Tom Paulsen (spread grass seed); John Ziemer (donated use of his ATV); Dan Bale (use of his truck); Steve Porn and Tom Paulsen (mowing); Steve Porn and Jerry Schneider (clearing of the Westside Trails); Dan Bartels (mowing).
  • Ladysmith Driftbusters Snowmobile Club member Tom Haasl - instructions in use of the WRA skidsteer mower.
trail mowing summer 2012
Trail mowing during summer 2012
skidsteer slipped off the edge of the trail
Tall grasses made it difficult to identify the edge of the trail
bulldozer pulls the skidsteer back onto the trail
DNR dozer rescues the skidsteer mower
orange driveway markers delineate the edge of the ski trail
Same corner where the mower dropped off the side of the trail. There's a deep ravine to your right.
grass sprouting on recently dozed ski trail
Grass sprouting on recently dozed trail - East Side of the Blue Hills Trail
silt fence installed at site of new culvert
New culvert and adjacent silt fence
adding rock rip rap to protect upstream side of a new culvert
John Carr adding rock (riprap) to help protect the upstream side of the new culvert
2 volunteers celebrate installation of new culvert
John Carr and Jerry Schneider celebrating a job well done
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Blue Hills Trail

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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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