The American Birkebeiner takes place each February in picturesque northwest Wisconsin, and even if you’re not training for the country’s largest cross-country ski race, you should consider a wintertime visit. Tucked among the Hayward area’s tangle of lakes and dense forests are three distinct resorts with unique personalities. Whether you’re looking for eco-friendly, family friendly, or romantic, there’s a lodge with a seat at the fireplace for you.
Cable Nature Lodge
The Vibe: Fresh and sleek, with an emphasis on eco-friendliness and local flavor
The Scene: Cable Nature Lodge, named after the nearby town of Cable, Wisconsin, combines the best of natural beauty—it’s located on 22 acres in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (pronounce it sho-WAH-ma-gun to sound like a local)—and creature comforts. Built in 2005, the cedar-and-knotty-pine-paneled lodge houses seven rooms as well as the Rookery Pub, which offers more upscale dining than its name suggests, with a seasonally influenced menu that incorporates fresh fish, steaks, and local produce.
The Agenda: Cable Nature is minutes from the American Birkebeiner Trail and the skijoring-friendly Seeley Ski Trail, as well as several snowshoe and snowmobile trails. Head into town for terrific pizza at the family-run Rivers Eatery (theidealmarket.com),then pick up something to read by the fire at its next-door neighbor, the charming Redbery Books (redberybooks.com).
20100 County Hwy. M, Cable, Wisconsin, 715-794-2060, cablenaturelodge.com
Garmisch USA Resort
The Vibe: Historic lodge, kitschy cabins, and German everything
The Scene: In 1927, local artisans built Garmisch USA Resort on the shores of Lake Namakagon with Bavaria in mind. Through its towering timber-beam ceilings, massive stone fireplaces, and warm wood paneling, the lodge retains an Old World charm. Each cabin comes with its own story and personality—check out Blarney Castle, built like an actual castle. (Were Hansel and Gretel to vacation in Wisconsin, this is the place they’d book.) The resort’s antler-bedecked Bierstube Lounge features an assortment of hearty German fare, including wurst, sauerkraut, and schnitzel.
The Agenda: Bundle up, grab your fishing license, and see if you can snag one of Lake Namakagon’s famous 40-plus-inch muskies. There are plenty of recreational trails to explore in the surrounding Chequamegon National Forest…or you can just curl up by the lodge’s roaring fire.
23040 Garmisch Rd., Cable, Wisconsin, 715-794-2204, garmischresort.com
Spider Lake Lodge
The Vibe: Northwoods charm with handsome, heritage-chic furnishings
The Scene: Time seems to stand still at Spider Lake Lodge. Built in 1923 of sturdy tamarack and cedar logs from the surrounding forest, it started out an outdoorsman’s rustic retreat. Today, under the curatorial gaze of two interior designers, it’s a stylish couples escape. Located at a dead end on the shores of Spider Lake, this adults-only, technology-free haven is the definition of serenity.
The Agenda: Bring that novel you’ve been neglecting and get ready to do a whole lot of nothing between lingering over your morning coffee and meditating on the cosmos during your pre-bedtime stargazing. If you do venture into Hayward, you can take your beer one of two ways: with a side of pickled eggs and fish stories at the taxidermy-filled Moccasin Bar or brewed on-site in the Angry Minnow’s beautifully restored historic digs (angryminnow.com).
10472 W. Murphy Blvd., Hayward, Wisconsin, 715-462-3793, spiderlakelodge.com
Ellen Burkhardt is a regular contributor to Minnesota Monthly.