Color Tour 3
This is a 70 mile tour that passes through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest east of Hayward. The majority of the tour is on paved roads however 8.5 miles are on gravel road.
From the Hayward Information Center building drive north on Highway 63 one half mile to the intersection with Highway 77 and turn right (east). The route follows Highway 77 east over the Namekagon River and up O'Brien Hill which is the hill on the east edge of the Namakagon Valley about 2 miles into the tour. In the logging days around the turn of the century O'Brien Hill was famous for the dangerous trip down the steep grades with heavily loaded sleighs - many were wrecked and horses and drivers injured or killed. At 21.9 miles on the tour turn left (north) on Forest Road 203.
Forest Road 203 is blacktopped for the next 2 miles and passes through a tunnel of hardwoods that overhand the roadway. Shortly after turning on FR 203 you pass Two Deer Lake on the left and then Perch Lake on the right. At 27.9 miles FR 203 intersects with FR 622. Here you can turn left to take a short side trop to look at an impoundment on Lynch Creek and hike a short trail to a viewing platform.
The color tour continues on FR 203 and at 31.2 miles Crystal Springs overlook in the right. Crystal Springs is a bog dotted with small potholes. It is especially scenic in the fall when the bog is framed by the reddish brown color of the oaks and yellow of the birch. The colorful foliage contrasts nicely with the patches of water that reflect blue sky. In another mile FR 203 intersects County Highway M. Turn left (west) on M and drive 9.8 miles to the village of Cable.
Along the way you pass just south of Lake Namakagon. Namekagon can be loosely translated from the Chippewa as "Place of the Sturgeon". A pleasant walking side trip can be had by driving south on FR 207 2.6 miles and hiking in to Rock Lake about a half mile west of the fire lane. In Cable turn left (south) on Highway 63. There is no color tour sign at the intersection M and 63.
The color tour route crosses the Namekagon River about 1.5 miles south Cable. The Namekagon is part of the St. Croix Riverway and is a National Wild and Scenic River. You parallel and occasionally cross the Namekagon or its backwaters on the drive back to Hayward.
For more information on the Riverway contact the National Park Service at Box 100, Trego, WI 54888 or call 715-635-8346. About 5 miles south of Seeley turn right (northwest) on Nelson Lake Road. Continue on 3.8 miles to Highway T. Turn right (northwest) and continue on T to Highway 27. Turn left (south) on 27 and drive 3.6 miles to Highway 77. Turn left (east) and continue on to Hayward.