Into the wild and on the water of Branch Lake

Exploring Ellsworth’s Branch Lake area, visitors can go for a leisurely stroll in Frenchman Bay Conservancy’s Branch Lake Public Forest and then enjoy a refreshing swim afterward in Branch Lake.

Off Route 1A about 6.5 miles north of downtown Ellsworth, the forest features a 2.5-mile trail that loops and takes about 1.5 hours to complete. Entering the woods is like stepping into a fairytale. Pines tower above the trail bordered by moss-laden stones. The connecting tote road trail, which opens up, is a habit for diverse species of trees, grasses, flowers and butterflies.

Via Ellsworth’s Happytown Road, visitors can go for a dip at the public beach on the western shore of Branch Lake.

Farther north on Route 1A, Branch Lake Camping is nestled on the spring-fed, glacier-made lake. Families in RVs and tents can enjoy a private beach area and boat dock.

Owners Brenda and Richard Graves Young have run the campground for 39 years, and have kept the business in the family. Three generations currently work at the site, with a fourth generation running around, too. For more info, visit