Fall is a great time of year to visit Oconto County because it’s one of the best places to see fall foliage. Every autumn, nature paints the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest with gorgeous gold, red, and orange hues.
Pack up the family and travel to the northernmost region of Oconto County for a truly remarkable fall adventure. The Quartz Hill Trail offers one of the prettiest views of the brilliant fall colors from atop a quartz rock outcrop. Hike through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest to witness the dazzling colors of the hardwood forest and the glassy luster of quartz crystal.
Quartz Hill Trail is located on Highway 32, about 4 miles north of Townsend on the border of Oconto and Forest counties. The trail is divided into two separate sections - one to the east and one to the west of Highway 32. The east section of Quartz Hill Trail leads to the summit of McCaslin Mountain. The scenic overlook provides a panoramic view of the surrounding hills and forest.
Rated moderate to difficult, the trail presents a modest challenge to hikers due to its steep ascents and rocky, uneven terrain. However, the trail generally is dry, with boardwalks spanning the wettest areas.
Interpretive signs along the trail draw attention to the area’s unique history and identity. For example, upon reaching the quartz crystal deposit, hikers can learn why the early Native Americans visited Quartz Hill to collect quartz.
The Quartz Hill Trail is worth the drive to northern Oconto County for a breathtaking view of the fall colors. Take some photos – but please don’t take the quartz. Rockhounding is prohibited in order to preserve the quartz for others to enjoy. Happy hiking!
Mountain Fire Lookout Tower
See Northern Oconto County ablaze with fall color from 100 feet in the air. Experience a bird’s eye view of the Northwoods’ natural beauty at the Mountain Fire Lookout Tower. The Mountain Fire Lookout Tower delivers a spectacular panorama of the east side of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. To reach the 7- by 7-foot lookout perch, all you need to do is climb 132 steps. The effort is well worth it! The Mountain Fire Lookout Tower rewards climbers with breathtakingly vibrant shades of red, orange, and yellow.
The steel tower was built in 1935 by the U.S. Forest Service and Civilian Conservation Corps. Just the 41st lookout tower registered in the U.S., the tower is listed on the National Historic Lookout Register and the National Register of Historic Places. With the help of key partnerships and community donations, the Lakewood-Laona Ranger District completely restored the tower in 2015 and 2016.
For the best view, visit the Mountain Fire Lookout Tower in late September and early October - typically the time of year when fall foliage is at its peak in Oconto County. The Mountain Fire Lookout Tower is located 3 miles north of Mountain and is open from 8 a.m. until sunset until Nov. 1. Visiting the site is free, but donations are appreciated. (pictured above)
Oconto’s downtown will spring to life for Harvest Fest, the city’s annual autumn celebration taking place on Saturday, September 23, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On the long-anticipated day of Harvest Fest every year, Oconto closes Main Street to vehicles but opens the street to vendors and foot traffic. Harvest Fest, sponsored by the Oconto Area Chamber of Commerce, features a variety of arts and crafts, seasonal produce, and other merchandise. The Main Street shops host sidewalk sales and Harvest Fest specials. Plus, Harvest Fest offers fun kids’ activities, food, refreshments, and live music. Put on your flannel, pack up the kids, and head to Harvest Fest in downtown Oconto on Sept. 23. You’re sure to find bright pumpkins for carving, hearty vegetables for simmering, and fun for all ages. Harvest Fest is located on Main Street from Huron Avenue to Millidge Avenue in Oconto’s city center. Everyone is welcome! No admission fees are charged.
Lakewood will usher in the season of fall at Festi Fall, an outdoor celebration of food, live music, and artisans on Saturday, Sept. 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Stroll through the heart of Lakewood to view artist demonstrations and see handicrafts created by talented Northwoods artists. Grab a bite to eat, sample local/global wines, and enjoy open-air musical performances. Festi Fall features over 30 vendors displaying a wide array of merchandise, including jewelry, rugs, jams, paintings, photos, ceramics, and wood carvings. Lakewood's enchanting boutiques and shops will also participate in Festi Fall, opening their doors to festival shoppers. Food stands will be serving a variety of food and refreshments. Public parking will be available, and Lakewood’s public restrooms will be open during the festival. Mark your calendar for Festi Fall, September 16, 2023, in Lakewood.
This event has been hosted by the Lakewood Area Enchanting Shops for over ten years. If you would like to be a vendor at this event, please contact Cyndi at Northern Perks at 715-276-3473 for more information.