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Backpacker Magazine – August 2012

Trail Mix: Central

Your region's go-now guide.

by: Steve Johnson, Morgan Tilton and Rachel Zurer

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Deerfield Lake (Photo by: Nate Anderson)
Deerfield Lake (Photo by: Nate Anderson)

See This Now: Fireflies
In the Midwest, nothing says summer like the soft phosphorescent glow of lightning bugs dotting the night sky with their luminous mating calls. While the insects (beetles, not flies, to be precise) do frequent backyards, you’ll have the best chance of spotting them away from the light pollution and pesticides of the city, says Connie O’Connor, an educator at the Cincinnati Nature Center who’s been leading firefly hikes for 16 years. For the best concentration of the Midwest’s dozens of firefly species, aim for a field ringed by forest, near a pond or wetlands. Hot and humid nights, especially after a rain, will bring out the most blinkers. Populations peak near early July, depending on the year. Visit for details about O’Connor’s family-friendly hikes, or hit the Perimeter Trail at East Fork State Park (Trip ID 308403) for your own backcountry search.

Solitude Finder
Brule River State Forest, WI
Nab a heartbeat-quiet campsite on a little-used 8.9-mile (one-way) section of the North Country Trail. Overshadowed by the trail’s showcase Chequamegon sections 30 miles east, this stretch is calm even in summer, and by back-to-school time, it’s virtually deserted (our scout has yet to see another soul in five visits). From the Crowshaw Road trailhead three miles north of Solon Springs, descend to the Brule River Bog, an emerald green incubator of white cedar, spongy mosses, and dozens of rare plants like the low-lying Lapland buttercup. Cross the bog on 3,500 feet of boardwalk to the headwaters of the Bois Brule River. Ascend the ridge to views across the Brule Valley, a glacial shoehorn scoop shrouded in northern hardwood-pine forest. Camp at Jerseth Creek near mile 6.7, with red-pine-scented breezes and the comforting noise of the creek’s mini rapids, then coast 2.2 rolling miles to the County S trailhead. Trip ID 1678148
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