Manitowish Waters, WI – The North Lakeland Discovery Center, a non-profit nature center located in Manitowish Waters, is pleased to announce the establishment of a new silent sports trail system: the WinMan Trails. Located just north of the Discovery Center, bordering the towns of Winchester and Manitowish Waters, the WinMan Trails complement the Discovery Center’s existing 12 mile trail system by offering additional recreational opportunities that allow visitors to further connect with and appreciate the character of the Northwoods.

The WinMan Trails span over 1300 acres of private and public recreation lands within the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest, offering opportunities for mountain biking, trail running, skate and classic skiing, and snowshoeing, as well as competitive silent sport events. The trail system encompasses pre-existing trails, including old logging roads and the Town of Winchester’s old ski trail system (maintained by the Town of Winchester into the early eighties), as well as newly established single-track mountain bike trails.

Active in the development of the WinMan Trails are Discovery Center staff including a trail crew led by Trail Designer, Travis Bellman; Trail Coordinator, Robert Polic; and Outdoor Recreation and Events Specialist, Maria Kopecky. The project is made possible through funding from The Gering Foundation, as well as in-kind volunteer time and donations from area businesses and individuals. The WDNR’s proposed Master Plan calls for a land use agreement between the Discovery Center and the state, and advocates for multi-use recreation.

Bellman, who was active in trail development at Oneida County’s Raven Trail, has participated in training and workshops with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) and is using these experiences to develop a sustainable trail system at WinMan Trails. Bellman is excited about the opportunities the trails will provide for the community and recreation enthusiasts. He particularly noted how conducive the terrain is throughout the site, stating: “The natural topography and geology of the WinMan Trails allow for sustainably built single-track trails that accommodate all ability levels, from beginners to expert mountain bikers. This variety will draw a more diverse tourist base to the area.”

Robert Polic, WinMan Trails Coordinator and avid mountain biker and skier, notes that the Master Plan goals for the site include the establishment of 10 miles of single-track mountain bike trails, two miles of technical mountain bike features, and over seven miles of skate and classic ski trails. Groomed snowshoe loops will also be available, ideal for casual users as well as for future snowshoe races.

Volunteer and community involvement and support are a vital piece of the trail’s future success. According to Outdoor Recreation and Events Specialist, Maria Kopecky, the WinMan Master Plan includes the development of a Friends Group to act as future stewards of the site: “The Discovery Center is fortunate to have a variety of engaged Clubs that carry forward missions and purposes compatible with the Center’s, including groups dedicated to bird conservation, wolf education, and old-growth forest preservation. A group connected to silent sports recreation and stewardship of an ecologically unique site, would be a wonderful addition to the community, the region, and to an expanding community of silent sports enthusiasts.”

A trail introduction is scheduled for Saturday, October 5, from 10:30am-1pm. This free community event, held in conjunction with IMBA’s Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, encourages local residents and families to to experience 1.5 miles of completed single-track mountain bike trails, and to explore some of what the trails will offer in the future. Activities are for all ages and ability levels and include free food and drink, guided hikes, trail bike rides, and single-track mountain bike rides. Attendees participating in Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day are encouraged to bring their own mountain bikes; children’s bikes (approximately ages 8 and up) will be available for use.

The WinMan Trails are located four miles north of Manitowish Waters on Highway W. The trailhead and parking lot are across from the intersection of Highways W and J. To learn more about the WinMan Trails, volunteer opportunities, and events and sponsorship opportunities, please visit us online under the clubs tab at DiscoveryCenter.net, “like” the WinMan Trails on Facebook, or call (877) 543-2085.