Don’t let the winter blues get you down, come out and enjoy Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. Winter can bring some of the best wildlife watching. With leaves off the trees you can see deeper into the forest and the snow pack absorbs sound making listening for wildlife crisp and clear. Each fresh snowfall creates new opportunities to explore the tracks left by the wild travelers of the refuge. Explore on cross-country skis, snow shoes, boots or just take a drive.
Refuge Trails: Much of the refuge is open to hiking, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing through the winter. The Sanctuary area in the northern portion of the refuge is open to the public September 1st through the end of February. Since there is no vehicle traffic on these access roads, it’s a great place to investigate by foot, ski or snowshoe. The Old Indian Hiking Trail off Hwy 29 is a 2 mile loop trail that will take you deep into the old growth Oak, Maple and Pine forests.
Wildlife Watching: The refuge is bisected by County Hwy 26, Hwy 29, Hwy 143 and Hwy 35. These highways are maintained by the county highway department and can be traveled throughout the winter. Bruce Blvd/Service Road is maintained by refuge staff and is also accessible by car through the winter months. These roads will take you through a great deal of the refuge for watching wildlife in your warm car. The Blackbird Wildlife Drive closes December 15 and re-opens April 15 (spring melt permitting). Restrooms are located at the Chippewa Picnic Area and the Pine Lake Parking Area.
Pine Lake Ski Trail: This cross-country ski trail has two loops. The two mile loop will take you through a field, among the oak-maple forest and along the shores of Tamarac Lake. The Pine Lake loop is nearly 6 miles and will guide you around Pine Lake with spectacular views. Both trails are generally even terrain with a few short hills to keep your trek interesting. This ski trail is occasionally groomed by volunteers. Parking is available at the trail head along County Hwy 29 about 3 miles south of the visitor center.