Book features New Richmond, Somerset area day hiking trails
New Richmond and Somerset receive prominent billing in the latest recreational guidebook to Northwest Wisconsin - "Headin' to the Cabin: Day Hiking Trails of Northwest Wisconsin," by Rob Bignell.
Describing more than 100 trails, the book covers nine Wisconsin counties - Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Polk, St. Croix, Sawyer and Washburn. Four of them are in the New Richmond-Somerset area.
"In northwest Wisconsin you can walk across 1.2 billion-year-old rock, dip your toes in the world's largest freshwater lake, tramp along the same routes that the first European explorers bushwhacked during the 1600s, and see the fourth highest waterfall east of the Rockies," said Bignell, an avid hiker and author of the popular and critically acclaimed "Hikes with Tykes" guidebooks. "I've hiked in more than 30 states now, and northwest Wisconsin certainly ranks up there with the best."
The book separates trails by communities that cabin-goers frequent. Each community entry includes at least one feature article about a great local trail, snapshot descriptions of several other area day hiking trails, and a list of neighboring communities for easy cross-referencing.
"Almost all trail guidebooks for the region fall into one of two categories: They're either for backpackers making multi-day overnight trips or they cherry pick the region's 'best' trails," Bignell said. "But what if you're spending a weekend up north and don't have time to do a four- or five-day trip? Or what if you're vacationing for a week, but the only trails listed in the guidebook all are a couple of hours drive from you?
"'Headin' to the Cabin' in contrast focuses on day hiking trails that you can do in under a few hours and lists multiple trails in every major recreational community."
Among the New Richmond-Somerset area trails listed are the Parnell Prairie Preserve loops, the New Richmond Heritage Center/Paperjack Creek Trail in New Richmond, and the La Grandeur Natural Area Trail in Somerset. The Parnell Prairie Preserve loops receive a three-page write-up in the book.
"Trails in the New Richmond-Somerset experience offer a nice array of sights and experiences for day hikers," Bignell said.
Day hiking trails in the nearby communities of Amery, Clear Lake, Hudson and Osceola also are detailed in the book.
A long-time hiker, editor and journalist, Bignell is uniquely qualified to discuss hiking. He and his son Kieran have hiked through old groves of redwood trees that soared 150 feet over their heads, peakbagged mountains, rambled along ocean coastlines, searched fossil and gem trails, and explored remote desert canyons, often all in the same month.
Those experiences led to Bignell's previously published hiking books, "Hikes with Tykes" A Practical Guide to Day Hiking with Kids" (2011) and "Hikes with Tykes: Games and Activities" (2012). He's also the author of three writing/self-publishing guidebooks, a novel, and a collection of poetry.
Bignell served as an infantryman in the Army National Guard and taught middle school students in New Mexico and Wisconsin. His newspaper work has won several journalism awards. A Wisconsin native, Bignell now lives with his son in Hudson.