Want to take a trip back in time? Just look for a simple brown and yellow sign. These signs mark the location of Wisconsin’s officially designated Rustic Roads, historic routes that showcase some of the state’s most beautiful rural scenery. As Wisconsin’s trees come alive with fall color, it’s a great time to explore one of these roads less traveled.
Here are a few great routes for fall color:
Rustic Road 60: County Highway K, between County Highway N and County Highway M
Length: 11.7 miles
This route in beautiful Vilas County, winds through the 232,000-acre Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest. Canopies of coniferous and hardwood trees shade the route, which passes near old logging campsites, hiking trails and an old sawmill located in Star Lake. The area features abundant wildlife and the route offers vistas of clear lakes and dense forestland.
Rustic Road 16: County Highway O, south of County Highway V
Length: 5.2 miles
Take in incredible views of Lake Michigan on this scenic county highway that passes through Point Beach State Forest in the Manitowoc-Two Rivers area. The road is bordered on the east by natural vistas of sand dunes and Lake Michigan and on the west by thick groves of deciduous trees and conifers.
Rustic Road 58: Blue Lake Road and Mercer Lake road between State Highway 70 and U.S. Highway 51
Length: 9.6 miles
This road is one of two Rustic Roads that are just a short drive from downtown Minocqua in Wisconsin’s Northwoods. Along Blue Lake Road on the southern stretch of the road, motorists will pass the Bearskin State Trail, the southern shore of Blue Lake, and the Tomahawk River before heading north on Merc Lake Road and passing that lake on the way back to Highway 70. This route travels through scenic hardwoods and pines and is a great fall drive.
Rustic Road 59: Between Highway 70 and Blue Lake Road
Length: 4.5 miles
This lightly traveled wilderness road in Oneida County is tucked inside Rustic Road 58, stretching for a little over four miles between Blue Lake Road and Highway 70. The scenic route passes log cabins used by some of the original homesteaders in the Minocqua Area, and travelers can encounter abundant native wildlife.
Rustic Road 114: Rusk County, between County Highway O and County Highway F
Length: 13.1 miles
This beautiful route is located in the rugged and scenic Blue Hills of Rusk County. The route includes access to trails for biking, hiking, skiing and hunting, along with two county campgrounds and multiple lakes, including Perch, Audie, Bucks, and the Murphy Flowage. Enjoy the drive—Rustic Road 114 provides a thick canopy of fall colors.
Rustic Road 52: South of Highway 33, east of County Highway M
Length: 6.7 miles
This route, located east of West Bend, traverses one of the highest points in Washington County and offers a scenic panorama of the surrounding countryside. There are several historical buildings and farmsteads on this wooded, rural rote, including a log home and an old fieldstone house that dates to the late 1800s. The route also passes portions of the Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area—one of the largest and most biologically diverse wetland areas in Wisconsin.