With more than 40 miles of trails winding through a wonderful variety of terrain, GovernorKnowlesStateForest is a trail rider’s dream. The Forest runs for 55 miles along the St. Croix River and includes about 32,500 acres in Northwest Wisconsin’s Polk and Burnett counties. The horse trails are located in the southern half of the Forest.
Many folks called the system the Trade River Horse Trail because the original camp ground and trails run along that river.Others simply refer to the area as “The Barrens” - a name that describes the sandy oak savannah and Jack Pine forests.
Three trail heads are maintained by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: 1.)TradeRiver Campground – 2988 Evergreen Avenue Cushing, WI 54006 2.) Trade River Day Camp - 2976 Evergreeen Avenue Cushing, WI 54006
3.) Northwest parking lot – corner of 340th Street & 290th Avenue Grantsburg, WI 54840
Riders also enjoy parking their rigs at the Wolf Creek Bar & Grill and entering the trail system from there.Please see the Directions to the Forest page for information on getting to the trail heads.
Five trails make up the system ranging from 2 to 20 miles. Each with its own character.Every Friends member has their own favorite (or favorites) depending on how much time is available, the season and type of terrain.
Brown Trail - Barrens Loop
This 21 mile loop is the main trail of the system.Moving in a clockwise direction around the loop, you can start from Trade River Camp and head south for about two miles through some lovely pine plantations and hardwoods forests. On the southeast corner you cross the TradeRiver and then ride west more or less parallel to the St. Croix River for another 3 miles or so.
Then the trail starts to diagonal to the northwest and after nearly 2 miles intersects the Green Trail or Sunrise Shortcut.After the shortcut you travel north and west past 340th Street and then head pretty much due north through some very sandy areas for about 3 miles the Northwest Parking Lot.That is the far northwest corner of the loop.
From the Northwest Parking Lot the trail works its way back to the southeast diagonally with a fair number of twists along the way.This is a lovely part of the ride with many different types of forests and a fair amount of wildlife. You finally come out at Evergreen Avenue about 1-1/2 miles west of the Trade River Campground and the trail runs parallel to Evergreen back to camp.
Green Trail - Sunrise Shortcut
If you want to do just half of the Brown Trail, the Green Trail is hard to beat!After leaving the Brown Trail this 3 mile shortcut meanders through beautiful scrub oaks, pine forests and up into some hardwoods.There are almost always birds of prey hard at work.
Black Trail - River Trail
You will find beautiful views of Trade River far below.
The Black Trail is by far the most scenic AND challenging section of the system.You catch this 3 mile trail from Trade River Campground by going out to Evergreen and heading west across the bridge.After you past the Pioneer Cemetery you turn south on 300th Street.From there you can catch the trail off the east side of the road.
This is a very sandy path and it goes up very steep embankments that can be quite eroded.Always give the horses plenty of room when going up or down this trail Ė donít rush. Once you reach the ridge there are great views in the spring, fall and winter of the Trade River far below.In the summer it is awesome to ride through the cool woods and hear a cacophony of birds and bugs. (Well, maybe the bugs arenít that great.) Click here to see Bug Report page.
At the south end of the trail, your horse will be navigating a very steep and sandy decline to the river bottom.Once you are down you have a couple of choices.You can hook up with the Brown trail and head west or head east and north on the Brown trail back to TradeRiver.You can also catch the Red Trail and head down to WolfCreek.
Red Trail - Wolf Creek Loop
Looking for a fun lunch, cocktail or dinner excursion?The Red Trail may be just your ticket.After following the Brown trail south from the Trade River Camp for about 2-1/2 miles you can catch the Red Trail for another 2 miles or so down to the Wolf Creek Bar & Grill.
The northern section of the loop is quite well wooded but also goes through some clear cuts.The southern section runs parallel to the St. Croix River and you can often see grouse and other game birds.Both sections lead down to Wolf Creek where you can go through the creek and cool off your horses or cross a very nice bridge.Itís fun to use the bridge as a sounding board and compete with your friends to see whose horse has the most pure gaits!
Lots of folks plan to do lunch or dinner at WolfCreek and then head back to camp.It is also very fun to do the trip the other way - park your trailer at WolfCreek and take a lunch with you to eat at TradeRiver.
Yellow Trail - Harris Loop
This 2 mile segment is in the far southwest corner of the system.It winds through stands of oak, and jack and white pine.
You can catch the Yellow trail as an alternative loop off the Brown Trail coming from the north or the east. From the north the trail hooks into the Brown Trail just west of 340th Street on Evergreen. The eastern hookup is about 1-1/2 miles southeast of this spot.