Phelps Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 217
Phelps, WI 54554
(get driving directions)
(877) 669-7077 - toll free
There are lots of fun activities and experiences waiting for you in Phelps, whether you are a first time visitor or a seasoned traveler. This is a beautiful, secluded place to relax and unwind. When it's time to find fun and excitement, Phelps is the place to look!
The town's heritage is strongly Finnish and reflects the logging industry. Renamed Phelps in 1912, the town was originally known as Hackley. The present day township has an official population of 1.350 (2000 census). It has a total area of 108.9 square miles, of which 94.9 square miles is land and 14.0 square miles is water. The town lies nestled within the 650,000-acre Nicolet National Forest.
In 1863, congress authorized the building of Military Road from Fort Howard (Green Bay) to Fort Wilkins at the top of Keweenaw County, Michigan. The first settler, in 1852, was G. L. Draper. Military Road ran next to Draper's trading post along the shores of Lac Vieux Desert. In 1905, the village of Phelps was developed on North Twin Lake. The town's biggest growth spurt came in 1906-12 when people of the Finnish heritage moved to the area to farm and work in the lumbering mills and forests. Phelps, one of the last areas to be logged in northern Wisconsin, boasted a lumber camp on the east shore of Big Twin Lake.
The headwaters of the mighty Wisconsin River as well as the Deerskin River start right here in Phelps, and other waters flow to Lake Michigan. Just two miles to the north, in Upper Michigan, is the Ottawa National Forest.
Today, Phelps is a growing, forward-looking community blessed with an abundance of natural resources and beauty. Despite its small size, the School District of Phelps has a tradition of providing quality education. Our students score at or above the state and national academic testing levels.
Spring is a delicious and refreshing time. Forests and fields begin to green out, the spokes of road and mountain bikes flash as riders feed on an adrenaline rush of the first bike outing and hikers and walkers follow the meandering paths through the forest.
Our lakes are deep and clear - perfect for fishing and swimming. North Twin Lake stretches for 4.5 miles and is known for giant muskie. Lac Vieux Desert, Big Sand, Long and Kentuck are also waters where good-size walleye and muskie hang out. When it's feeding time, watch out! The next cast might be a trophy! A number of smaller lakes dot the landscape, paying homage to their bigger siblings but oh, so fascinating in their own rights.
Mother Nature designed Phelps and there wasn't much we had to do to improve her vision of paradise. We added easy-to-use boat launches, friendly folks at pubs, restaurants and the like; essential services such as service stations, post office, etc., and restful lodging from very comfortable to luxurious. The fantastic views, pine scented forests and brilliant starlit evenings are yours at no charge!
Getting here is easy; leaving is so hard! There's just one more fishing hole to check out, another great meal to savor, a few more thousand trees to hug, a poem or two to pen, one last water ski run to make before the sun casts it final rays.
Professional and amateur photographers flock to northern Wisconsin during this time. We can point you to the best areas to view and photograph the fall colors, so don't forget your camera! Tip: Panoramic shots are impressive to view, but don't forget close-up photographs of the leaves. For instance, early frost that nips the leaves and shrubbery adds an extra dimension of white to color photographs.
Autumn is also a great time to walk or bike area trails. Insects are no longer bothersome, the cooler air is invigorating and the crowds are down. It's a romantic time for couples on weekend getaways in the Northwoods. Can we say hot tubs and B&B! Other lodging options include cabins in the woods, lakefront cabins, a motel and resorts that range from very comfortable to luxurious.
During the fall months your chance to land a trophy walleye or muskie increases dramatically! Book one of our local guides to put on the hot spots.
Unload your sled and get ready to ride the many miles of snowmobile trails that weave through the Nicolet National Forest. About 75% of Phelps Township is Nicolet forest lands. Corridor trail #6 passes within a block of town. Phelps trails lead to the Vilas County Trail System, which consists of 600 miles of groomed an marked trails, as well as those in nearby Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Seventeen large groomers and a dedicated corps of volunteers ensure trails are well-groomed and well-marked.
Winter also welcomes cross-country skiers and snowshoers to Phelps. As you ski the Phelps Cross-Country Skiing and Hiking Trail, you'll pass through a forest of maple, birch and basswood. Off the beaten path, this 1-mile looped trail offers solitude for the nature lover. From Phelps, take County Highway E north 1/2 mile to Sugar Maple Road. Turn right. Go 1/2 mile northeast to the trailhead. Parking for 4 - 5 vehicles is on the left.
Afterglow Lake Resort has more than 11 miles of its own XC trails (and maintains a mile route on Nicolet Forest land) as well as seven miles of snowshoe trails. Trails are open to the public and donations are appreciated. Many snowshoers also simply enjoy bushwhacking in Nicolet Forest.
Ice fishing in Phelps can you reward you with a daily limit of northern pike, walleye and pan fish. Tip: A GPS unit and a detailed lake map can put you right back on that hot spot you remember from last summer!
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