The Landover ATV Club recently gave away a new UTV, the top prize in the club’s fundraising raffle. Taking part in the presentation were, front row from left, winner Tanya Kok and Gary Lagueux Jr. of the club; and back row from left, Jenna Hufford and Chris Petreikis of Trackside, Ryan Duranceau of the club, club President Roger Flaherty, Kaiden Lagueux and Lindsey Lagueux. Kok’s husband is in the driver’s seat of the UTV and their children also are pictured. —Contributed Photo
The Landover ATV Club recently gave away a new UTV, the top prize in the club’s fundraising raffle. Taking part in the presentation were, front row from left, winner Tanya Kok and Gary Lagueux Jr. of the club; and back row from left, Jenna Hufford and Chris Petreikis of Trackside, Ryan Duranceau of the club, club President Roger Flaherty, Kaiden Lagueux and Lindsey Lagueux. Kok’s husband is in the driver’s seat of the UTV and their children also are pictured. —Contributed Photo
The Vilas County ATV/UTV trails — including trails on the county forest, county roads and highways — officially closed for the 2019 season last Thursday.

The closing of the trails system signaled an end to a season that saw growth in terms of ATV ridership, trail development and added tourism, according to area trail leaders.

Officials hope to increase the number of miles of trail next season as area ATV organizations work to secure rights of way, easements and routes to eliminate as much road travel as possible.

Vilas County Parks & Recreation Administrator Dale Mayo, who oversees the state-funded trails in the county, said some towns have elected to keep their town roads open that are ATV routes.

“Those dates do vary, so please be sure to check with your local town ordinances,” said Mayo. 

Routes on roads in Eagle River, Cloverland, Lincoln and Washington are open year-round. ATV routes on roads in the towns of Arbor Vitae, Land O’ Lakes, Plum Lake (designated roads), St. Germain and Phelps are open May 1 to Oct. 31. In the town of Phelps, Millerville, Big Sand Landing and Grosser Lane are open year-round.

Mayo said Vilas County had another successful year with increased ATV traffic and relatively few complaints. He said there was one ATV fatality in Vilas County on private land. There have been a total of 21 ATV fatalities statewide, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Overall, it was a very successful year,” said Mayo. “Complaints were down and we saw expansion of ATV/UTV routes. We’re also on the verge of opening routes in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest that will help connect some of the communities in western Vilas County.”

There are now 34 miles of actual ATV trail on the Vilas County Forest and on private land where trail easements have been completed. There are also 12.7 miles of ATV routes on county forest roads that are open to ATVs.

Mayo reminds ATV riders that the county highways open to ATVs in the spring, summer and fall are also closed as of Oct. 31.



A long road

Roger Flaherty, president of the Landover ATV/UTV Club, said the sport has come a long way in the past two decades.

“Our club was founded in May of 2001 and early on our mission was to maintain it as a family sport and connect Vilas County communities with ATV trails,” said Flaherty. “There was some opposition early, but we were able to connect Land O’ Lakes, Conover, Phelps and Eagle River, and those are the entities that make up our club today.”

Flaherty said the club had to get over a giant hurdle in February of 2004 when Vilas County voters came out 2-to-1 against a referendum to open ATV trails on county land.

“The first ATV trail in the county was only one-quarter mile long, from a parking lot in Land O’ Lakes to the Michigan border, but that was a start,” said Flaherty. 

A big step for the sport came in 2012, when the state of Wisconsin passed a law requiring license plates on ATVs.

“That was a turning point,” said Flaherty. “We then got 15 out of 21 supervisors on the county board to support allowing towns to approve ATVs on town roads.”

Since then, Flaherty said club volunteers have put in thousands of hours promoting their sport, working on signing roads, pursuing easements and brushing trails.

“We’re blessed to have the young people get involved as volunteers,” said Flaherty. “We are still 100% volunteer, including the trail boss and trail patrol.”



Good season


Gary Lagueux Jr., trail boss for the Landover ATV/UTV Club, said while most town roads in eastern Vilas County are open to ATV travel, most ATV and UTV enthusiasts would rather ride on trails.

“We added some more trail this year around Conover,” said Lagueux. “I think the season went great. The amount of machines traveling on the routes and trails has really increased this year.”

Local ATV clubs have made some progress in moving routes off county and town roads.

“Our main focus will continue to be getting more routes off roads and onto trails. That is what riders want,” said Lagueux. “Another goal will be to make the signage better. We urge people to purchase our map because the preferred routes are pretty clear on there.”

Lagueux said a short but key segment of trail opened in 2018, connecting Eagle River and Three Lakes. The short dirt trail is on the west side of Highway 45, connecting Bloom Road and Meta Lake Road.

“That was a 50-50 project with the Three Lakes Nicolet ATV Club,” said Lagueux. “Our membership is growing, we were able to purchase a New Holland tractor and Arrowhead drag system and we bought a nice facility in Conover which serves as our garage, shop and clubhouse.”

The short trail helped riders get to Oneida County as town roads in Three Lakes and Sugar Camp are open to ATVs and UTVs.

Lagueux said he continues to hear from businesses around the county that they saw an influx in business in 2019, attributed specifically to ATV and UTV traffic.

“We care about our sport, but we also care about the businesses and we want to give back to the communities,” he said. “We’re investing in Conover, Land O’ Lakes, Phelps and Eagle River.”

Lagueux said one of the next projects is to get the county highways that are open to ATVs in the summer to be open year-round.

“We think that would help with winter business, especially when there is a lack of snow,” said Lagueux. “It would also help in the spring before the forest trails open.”

Lagueux also would like to establish a trail to help residents in the town of Washington, who have limited access to ATV routes due to the Catfish Lake Bridge on Highway 70 and private land along Highway 45 between Highway G and Chain O Lakes Road.



Big celebration 

Lagueux said the 2019 season for the club culminated Oct. 19 with a fundraising raffle drawing at the clubhouse at 348 Highway 45 in Conover. Winners of the month-long poker run also were announced that day. 

“We had nearly 100 entries in the poker run and a really good turnout at the open house,” said Lagueux.

The group hosted an open house and the Landover ATV/UTV Club raffled its grand door prize, a Can-Am Maverick Sport DPS 1000 UTV valued at $16,499 offered as the top prize with the assistance of Trackside in Eagle River. The winner of the UTV was Tanya Kok Cambridge. Second and third place winners were Cathy Bizek and Ron Smith, respectively. They won guns sponsored by Black Oak Inn in Land O’ Lakes and Wild Turkey in Conover. Raffle tickets were funded by Bauer’s Dam Resort and Burnt Bridge Tavern in Conover, D&S Service in Eagle River and Chief River Nursery in Grafton.

Poker run winners included: first, Martha Hernandez; second, Randy Remblake; third, Lindsey Lagueux; fourth, Todd Mendlick; fifth, Roger Flaherty; sixth, Diane Mendlick; and seventh, Joe Van Bree.