If you had just 48 hours to explore northern Wisconsin, where would you go? I can confidently say Hayward and Cable, Wisconsin should both be on your must-visit list this year, even for just a quick getaway. Amidst COVID-19 when travel feels questionable, this area has so much to do outdoors where social distancing is more than possible — it’s unavoidable!
When Travel Wisconsin invited my family and I up to explore Wisconsin this fall, I knew it would be an epic getaway. The fall colors up north were just past peak, which means hues of gold, red, and brown are waiting for us. Plus, Hayward and Cable are both well-known for its outdoor recreation opportunities. I’m excited to share this travel guide with you to help plan your next family getaway to northern Wisconsin. This post is sponsored by Travel Wisconsin but all opinions are my own.
How long we stayed: 2 nights, 3 days
Who all went: Me, husband Nick, 17-month-old son Harlan, and my parents (who btw are the best travel companions and so good with Harlan)
Where we stayed: Lakewoods Resort, Cable
Favorite activity: Hiking the North Country Trail
Favorite Meal: Everything at Sawmill Saloon near Hayward
STAYING AT LAKEWOODS RESORT
When I travel with family, I definitely prefer a cabin where everyone can sleep comfortably in their own rooms, yet have a communal space to gather, eat, and mingle. It seems especially true during the pandemic when I want to avoid crowds and contact with too many people. Lakewoods Resort in Cable has golf villas for avid golfers, condos, lodge rooms, and lake homes on Lake Namakagon to accommodate every situation. I absolutely loved our lake home not only because of its Northwoods cabin charm, but because it is so uniquely positioned on a private island. We felt secluded in the peace and comfort of a cozy cabin with a fireplace, lake views, a private dock, and an island backyard for exploring. The resort provides a beautiful pontoon so that guests can travel the short distance back and forth from the cabin to the marina.
Take a tour of our cozy island cabin at Lakewoods Resort!
OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES IN HAYWARD AND CABLE, WI
It’s no secret both Hayward and Cable are known for the outdoor scene. Hayward hosts two of the world’s top racing events including the American Birkebeiner cross country ski race and the Chequamegon Fat Tire bicycle race. Cable is known as “Trail Town USA” and is home to the Birkie Trailhead, CAMBA mountain bike trails, and 1,200 miles of interconnecting snowmobile and ski trails. If you’re not in the area to bike, ski, or hit the trails by sled, be sure to check out one of these ideas below!
Paddling the Lakes and Rivers
Grab your paddle! There are countless beautiful lakes in northern Wisconsin to canoe, kayak, or stand up paddle board. We must’ve driven by at least a dozen lakes while exploring the area. Fortunately for us, it was easy to choose which lake to canoe on. Lakewoods Resort conveniently provided a canoe for us to use on Lake Namakagon. We found a calm bay to paddle around in with Harlan. There are also several outfitters if you’d like to rent a canoe or kayak for the day.
But the #1 place to paddle, as recommended by all of you, is Namekagon River which begins in Cable. We didn’t get a chance to get on the river which is part of the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. But you can bet it’s one of of the reasons we’ll be coming back to the area. I hear it’s excellent for trout fishing.
Hike the North Country Trail
The hike to Juniper Rock Overlook was by far my favorite activity to do with Harlan and the rest of the crew. Shoutout to my friend Sarah Kozlowski who recommended this trail. It’s part of the 200 mile North Country Trail (which I’d love to hike more of someday) but is only a mile each way. The hike was fairly easy, but there were still a few incline points — especially at the end as we approached the overlook. For such a short hike, the view was epic with the most stunning fall colors in the Chequamegon-Nicolate National Forest. Harlan loved all the maple leaves and of course, the mesmerizing view at the end.
There weren’t any Google Map points that I could find on any website, so I marked it on a map for you in case you want to do this hike.
Land the Fish of 10,000 Casts
This was our first time musky fishing. We heard Lake Namekagon is known for its musky so Nick and I were excited to give it a whirl. In fact, while we were at Lakewoods Resort, there was a big musky tournament happening on the lake.
The musky guides were booked solid during our stay, but we were able to get out on the lake with Mike who is an avid musky tournament angler, lives on the lake, and works at Lakewoods Resort. We were in good hands and learned a lot about the different methods people use when musky fishing. It truly is a fish of 10,000 casts. We’ll give it another try next time!
By the way, Hayward even has a Musky Festival which is scheduled to happen in 2021.
Fishing Hall of Fame
The world’s largest fishing museum is finally crossed off our bucket list! The National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame is in Hayward and it’s what #FishSelfie dreams are made of. Although we didn’t hook into any muskies during our trip, we did manage to get in the mouth of one. The 5-story building in the shape of a musky has tons of antique and classic fishing reels, lures, and rods. But besides the very large musky “highrise”, everything else is pretty much outdoors at this time. We took photos with a giant rainbow trout, walleye, bluegill, and perch. You can bet Harlan thought it was pretty cool! He kept saying “fish” which is just about the cutest thing because he whispers it with an emphasis on the “shhh” at the end.
We even found out you can submit your fish to be a World Record through the Hall of Fame. Keep that in mind the next time you reel in a hog.
TOURING ST. CROIX ROD IN PARK FALLS, WI
We took a quick road trip east to Park Falls to visit the St. Croix Rod facility. It’s a family-owned business that creates amazing fishing rods right in Wisconsin. In fact, they’re known as the “best rods on Earth” and we quickly learned why during our tour. Nick, Harlan, and I were fortunate to get a tour with Ken, the Operations Manager, who knows each and every employee at St. Croix Rod. I should also note that all of the regular tours of the facility are on pause at the moment because of COVID.
Ken mentioned that 32 pairs of hands are involved in the making of a rod. They carefully craft and assemble each and every rod behind the St. Croix brand. We saw the whole process from beginning to end, which was pretty amazing. I had no idea the amount of engineering, technology, and materials that go into making a rod. But the most noteworthy part about our tour was how obviously passionate the employees are about their job and skills. It’s evident they put a lot of love and care into each rod.
It’s something I’ll keep in mind when using my Mojo Ice Rod on the hardwater this winter.
Where We Ate
Every restaurant we went to either had outdoor seating and/or takeout. We took advantage of patio seating to avoid crowds and enjoy some fresh air and fall colors.
- Lakewoods Resort – Get the fish fry and cheese curds. You won’t regret it!
- Rustic Corner Cafe – The pancakes were out of this world!
- The Brickhouse Cafe & Catering – Nick says the Espresso Pulled Pork was really good.
- The Rivers Eatery & Tilly’s Pies – Such amazing pizzas! We loved the Brule and Nemadji. The Chocolate Walnut Stout pie was also a winner. They’re taking a brief pause and opening back up in December, FYI.
- Sawmill Saloon – We loved everything on the menu here. Definitely get the PRIME TIME and Crispy Axe Sandwich along with some Jumbo Stuffed Tater Kegs.
Places You Recommended
You all had some stellar recommendations for places to eat along with things to see and do in the Hayward and Cable area. You can find this list along with other highlights from our trip in my Instagram Stories Highlights under “Cable, WI.”
We loved our fall trip to northern Wisconsin and still talk about how many activities we were able to do in just 48 hours. I’m already looking forward to the next weekend getaway with the fam! If you have other northern Wisconsin travel recommendations or have any questions about our trip, leave a comment below or try the “Wisconsin’s Fun Finder” on Travel Wisconsin’s website to choose an adventure that caters to your travel style.
Thank you to Travel Wisconsin for sponsoring this post.