The local Brule-St. Croix Chapter of the North Country Trail Association celebrated National Trails Day on June 3rd with a hike on the famous Brule-St. Croix Portage section of the North Country National Scenic Trail. This ancient Native American route was also used by voyageurs to connect the Brule and St.Croix Rivers when traveling between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi watershed. A new boardwalk was recently constructed to give hikers access to the headwaters of the Brule River. About 35 people came out Saturday June 3rd to make the 4 mile hike and have a picnic lunch.
The new boardwalk was built by the Brule River State Forest and the Brule-St. Croix Chapter in memory of Chuck Zosel of Lake Nebagamon. Chuck made a personal project of clearing and restoring the overgrown Portage. When the trail was reopened, he became its maintainer. He worked with the National Park Service to incorporate the Portage in the 4,600 mile North Country National Scenic Trail.
A native of Wadena, Minnesota, Chuck was a Vietnam era Navy veteran. After earning a Forestry degree from the University of Minnesota, he served as a professional forester both in private industry and in public agencies, notably the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In 1979, Chuck was appointed Superintendent of the Brule River State Forest. He served the Forest 20 years, retiring in 1999.
Chuck was a founding member of the Brule-St. Croix Chapter in 1997. He served as the chapter treasurer, and four years as chapter president. In retirement, Chuck continued to maintain the Portage Trail as a volunteer.
National Trails Day is an annual event to promote the National Scenic Trail system which includes the North Country Trail. The trail runs through about 200 miles in northern Wisconsin with access to short and long distance hikes and camping. Mellen and Solon Springs are official “trail towns” with the trail passing right through town. The trail goes through Copper Falls State Park, Pattison State Park, the Porcupine and Rainbow wilderness areas in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, the Brule River State Forest and along part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway.
The North Country Trail is managed by the National Park Service, with trail construction and maintenance by volunteers. The North Country Trail Association is the non-profit that organizes the volunteers. There are three local chapters in Wisconsin: Brule-St Croix in the west, Chequamegon in the middle, and the Heritage in the east. Volunteers are always needed and welcome. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, visit www.northcountrytrail.org/volunteer, or contact the Brule-St. Croix Chapter at email@example.com or 715-292-3484.