Quietwater Canoeing: The original drafters of the National Scenic and Wild Rivers Act which protects less than 1% of the nation’s rivers put the Namekagon River on the top of the list with its pristine and beautiful views. The Namekagon starts 5.3 miles southeast of Lake Owen and runs as close as 3 miles from Lake Owen. Below Hayward the Namekagon has long stretches of quiet water with a few class I and Class II rapids. National Park Service Planning Page Current Conditions on the Namekagon River
The White River from Delta Drummond Road to about 1.3 miles downstream from Pike River Road is runnable but usually has trees across the entire river. The section 1.3 miles downstream from the Pike River Road to Sutherland is a nice journey through some of the finest trout water in the Midwest. The 5 to 6 hour totally flat water from Sutherland down through the Bibon Swamp to the first bridge at Bibon Road (3/4 mile west of U.S. 63) is a very pleasant and scenic journey. Bring a picnic lunch. These sections of the White River are usually runnable throughout the year by novice canoeists. White River Guage
Biking Bayfield County has 800 miles of paved roads and not one traffic light making riding a bike on the paved roads through the rolling hills Lake Owen a great place to ride. Favorite ride is the loop around Lake Owen on the roads. If you’d rather ride off-road, the Cable Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBRA) trail system one of the best in the nation. Best done June through September.
The Firehouse 50 bicycle road race of 50.5 miles is sponsored by the Grand View Volunteer Fire Department beginning and ending in Grand View, Wisconsin. The route is wonderfully scenic race takes on black top roads winding through the pristine Chequamegon National Forest around Lake Namakagon and Lake Owen. For further information: https://firehouse50.org
Kayaking: Lake Owen’s proximity to the largest fresh water lake in the world, Lake Superior creates a summer weather pattern of many days with calm to low winds, clear skies and beautiful sunrises and sunsets making for ideal quiet water kayaking conditions. Eagle, osprey, loon, deer, otter are always around to photograph while enjoying the kayaking.
Water Skiing: Lake Owen’s long narrow body and frequent steep banks provides the best water skiing in northern Wisconsin. Lake Owen has constant water skiing and tubing for family fun all summer long.
Pontoon Boat Parties: Lake Owen Association sponsors Summer Solstice & Fall Equinox pontoon boat parties for its membership often on the week end closest to the first day of summer and the first day of Fall. At the designated time, around a dozen pontoon boats tie themselves up side door to side door to share food, drink and camaraderie. Where else can you drink excellent wine and eat exquisitely prepared appetizers on a floating lake party.
Rock Climbing: If you are experienced in technical rock climbing, there are rock faces suitable for rock climbing and belaying practice on Juniper Rock off the North Country Trail just east of Old Grade Road and an unnamed 60 foot high granite rock cliff 400 feet northeast of the parking area on the northeast corner of the Marengo River and Wisco Road. Both locations are about 35 minutes driving time from the Lake Owen. Just after the Bibon Swamp on U.S. 63, go east on Country Road E 6 miles to F.R. 202/ Ashland-Bayfield Road where you will drive 4.4 miles south to the Morgan Falls and St. Peter’s Dome Parking lot on the east side of the road, about 45 minutes driving time. Hike east 3.6 rugged miles to St. Peter’s Dome, a nice place to practice rappelling.
Hiking: The best months to hike in the woods are July, August, September and October and here are the most popular local hikes:
Swedish Settlement Hike on the North Country Trail. Take Lake Owen Drive from Drummond past the Picnic Grounds to Porcupine Lake Road/ F.R. 213. Turn left eastbound on Porcupine Lake Road and go 5.2 miles to County Highway D. Turn right southbound and go half a block to Club Lake Road. Turn left onto Club Lake Rd./ F.R.201 and drive 3.9 miles on Club Lake Road until you reach Old Grade Road/F.R. 202. Turn left north bound on Old Grade Road and go a couple miles to the North Country Trail parking lot on your right where you park . The hike on the North Country Trail to Swedish settlement and back is about 4 miles round trip. This out of print brochure starts on page 3 and gives an interesting history of the Swedish Settlement: Archived National Forest Service Brochure
Porcupine Lake Wilderness Loop: From Lake Owen Drive between Two Lakes Campgrounds and the Picnic grounds is a wide sand road FR 213/ Porcupine Lake Road. Drive east .9 miles where you pass the first parking spot and park at the second parking spot which provides access to the North Country Trail. Take the North Country Trail south then east going past 18 Mile Creek Spring which always cold water supports trout, cross 18 Mile Creek to Porcupine Lake which has lots of pan fish, go partially around the lake to some primo camp spots, then backtrack to near the outlet and walk northwest on the wide trail less than ½ mile back to Porcupine Lake Road, then hike .4 mile west back to the car. The total hike is about 4 miles.
Virgin Pines Loop on the North Country Trail. From Drummond, take Lake Owen Drive going east on just past the Lake Owen Picnic Grounds where you can park for free on the south side of the road where the North County Trail crosses. Hike south North Country Trial passing Melland Pond then along the lakeshore passing four informational kiosks in the area where the native Indians camped from 120 A.D. to 610 A.D. and passing through several acre tracts of virgin pines road until coming back out to Lake Owen Drive. Turn left westbound and take an 14 minute road walk back to the back to the car less than a mile. Total hike about 4 miles.
Copper Falls State Park. People from around the Midwest come to this scenic park with many photographic falls seen from easy hiking trails, about an hour drive from Lake Owen to the park just northeast of Mellen, Wisconsin.
Sailing: Pick a day with a strong southern wind and start out going south. The standard Sunfish sailboat is the most popular sailboat on Lake Owen.
Bass Fishing: Bass are easiest to catch when they are most active. Bass are most active near 80 F water temperature which comes closest in Lake Owen towards the end of July. Fishing the first and last two hours of daylight, those big bass can’t resist a nightcrawler on a #4 hook, #3 split shot 6 inches up from the hook on a 6 lb. test line cranked as slowly as you can.
Snorkeling: Lake Owen is one of the clearest lakes in Wisconsin making it a favorite destination for SCUBA divers and snorkelers. SCUBA diver and Lake Owen Association Vice-President and Treasurer Bill Hannaford found Lake Owen on a dive. Snorkeling weed beds and around fallen trees will enable the snorkeler to spot large fish that locate to structure. It is a lot easier to fish were you know the big fish are located.
Camping: Excellent free camping can be done on the State owned Carter Island or Red Rock Island and at the old remains of Vespi’s resort north of Loon Island in the National Forest. Beginner campers can make an easy canoe trip to Carter Island for a campfire dinner and s’mores. Stockton Island campground in the middle of the Apostle Islands is an excellent location for campers arriving by ferry or kayak.
Backpacking: The best backpacking peaks from late July through August because of fewer mosquitos and warm lake waters. Premier backpacking destinations include the North Country Trail that runs along the north shore of Lake Owen, Isle Royale (least visited National Park), Superior Hiking Trail (ranked 2nd best long trail in the U.S. by readers of Backpacker Magazine), Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Porcupine Mountains State Park in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Muskie Fishing: More world records have been landed in Wisconsin than anywhere else. The current state and world record is a tremendous 69 pounds and 11 ounce fish taken from the Chippewa Flowage. Wall hanging Muskies over 20 pounds and exceeding the minimum limit of 50 inches can also be caught on Lake Namekagon and Lake Winter. The peak month for Muskie fishing is September. Use heavy fishing rods, 25 pound Dacron line, steel leaders, and large bucktails, large suckers, or large jointed lures. One Labor Day week end try trolling for muskies on the Chippewa Flowage for monster Muskies.
Panning for Gold: Historians have documented that an Indian named Old Ice Feathers who later was called Chief Namekagon lived at the north end of Namekagon lake used to walk to Ashland in the 1880’s and trade gold and silver nuggets for supplies. People used to try and follow the Chief to his secret mine. One winter the Chief died because the White mans’ ploy failed. Geologists have documented non-commercial glacier deposits of gold and silver in the area. Riffles and cracks in the bedrock of local streams can be locations where the action of the water acts like a natural gold panning sluice box to concentrate the heavier gold nuggets in those cracks.
Get a metal detector, plastic gold panning pan, and strong magnet. Take those items along with a GPS, knowledge of the current National Forest regulations on such activities, and with a little luck, you can find a nice souvenir or maybe Chief Namekagon’s old source. The collection of minor amounts of rock samples and gold panning as a recreational activity is allowed on National Forest land, but is strictly limited in the type of collecting activity and intensity of activity allowed. National Forest Rules on Mineral Collection