PEOPLE WHO LIKE TO follow trails through the woods are much like a bear with a sniff of a honey tree. Unable to resist the lure of a footpath through the forest, hikers, much like the bear tracking the honey tree, follow their nose wherever it may take them.

I am one of those people. I have been wandering the woods in our north Wisconsin country for a long, long time. By the age of 8, I pretty well knew every inch of the woods within a mile radius of our house.

Not to poke fun at young parents today who are afraid their child may scratch their hand on a briar at the edge of the backyard, I must say that my parents and all the parents of every child I knew at that age pretty much turned their progeny loose every day to roam woods and stomp through creeks without worrying that they would fail to show up for supper.

At a very early age, I discovered a yearning to follow every deer path I found just to see where it might lead; just to see what might be over the next hill or down in the next valley.

Getting lost wasn’t a worry. In roaming the woods, most of the time I was at least temporarily unaware of exactly where I was or what direction I had to go to get back to civilization, but I was always confident I would eventually get to where I wanted to be.

Today, there is a plethora of hiking options for all people who love the woods. They range from well-marked nature trails scattered throughout the state and national forests within which we live to old logging roads to even older, late-19th century logging railroad beds. I like just following animal paths the most.

Luckily, though my wife was born and bred a farm girl more accustomed to the seat of a tractor than trudging across field and woods lanes, she quickly came to love hiking woods trails with me wherever we found them; although it usually took some persuasion to assure her that our treks would not result in untimely deaths from an attack by a lion, tiger or hippo.

Over the years, we have shared many hikes carrying us over almost any kind of terrain you could imagine. Whether it was in Canada, western mountains, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee or wherever we were, we found trails and woods just waiting to be explored.

On our very first camping trip together we headed for Mississagi Provincial Park in Ontario, about 60 miles north of Lake Huron. Though it’s been about 40 years since we went on that camping trip, I remember one hike we did that took us to a very special place.

After a mile or so of walking on an established trail, we topped out along a rocky cliff about 300 feet above Helenbar Lake. From there we looked out — my lovely wife from a very safe place well back from the cliff edge — to the north where late-May pale green aspen leaves lent a beautiful contrast to the dark green of pines with which they shared the forest.

Together we have walked a short piece of the Appalachian Trail, trails leading to lakes at more than 10,000 feet elevation in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming; all through the Upper Peninsula’s Porcupine Mountains; through parts of every state park north of Duluth, Minn.; amongst the beauty of Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains; and along feeder streams leading to the waters of Lake Superior.

One hike in what was then known as Sibley Provincial Park, now Sleeping Giant Provincial Park just east of Thunder Bay, took us to the knees of the “sleeping giant.” It was a 7-mile hike to the base of a 600-vertical foot climb to the knees.

It was a hike my wife never would have taken had I not convinced her the many piles of slightly used orange mountain ash berries we saw along the way were left by moose and not the black bears who were the real culprits.

A Minnesota hike I remember well started at the Judge C.R. Magney State Park campground not far south of the Ontario border. That path took me more than a mile back to a curious waterfall where the water spills over a part of it much like any other waterfall you’ll find, while part of it flows into a giant hole in the rock wall at the lip of the falls; the water never again to be seen. Where it goes is a mystery, although I’ve read many theories about it.

A walk along the Old Woman River in Lake Superior Provincial Park took the two of us on perhaps the most amazing native brook trout fishing expedition I’ve ever been on. In less than two hours time, during midafternoon with a blazing sun overhead, I caught somewhere between 50 and 75 trout, none less than 6 inches, none more than 13 inches. I kept but two which were delicious entrees for our evening dinner. A combination of old-growth pine, balsam and hardwoods kept us well shaded most of the time, and the cool spray of small rapids and waterfalls kept us cool on an unusually warm June afternoon.

Not all great walks in the woods demand a trip to a far-off destination. Around here, in the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest, we have some superb trails which are well-used and well-loved by thousands of visitors and locals alike. They include hikes around Fallison, Escanaba, Pallette, Mystery and Spruce lakes, and along the shores of Star and Trout lakes.

I have many more I could tell you of, but many of them around here are the kind I like to keep secret; to keep to myself. Some are along logging roads, but many are simply forays through the woods to places not many people see at any time of the year.

Some take me to secret fishing holes of which some are not quite as secret as I would like, while others simply take me to places where I can escape the thundering herds; herds defined as two or more people in the same place.

Every hiker has such trails, such places to which they wander. They are treasured places. They are places that make people feel better.

And so far, at least as far as I know, not a single soul has been lost in our neck of the woods to a marauding lion, tiger or hippo.