A competitor from last year's Portage County Ice Wars
Fast-tracking it: a competitor from last year’s event

Racing into the New Year

Want to get 2013 off to a speedy start? Head for Portage County, Wisconsin this weekend for the annual Portage County Ice Wars. The snowmobile racing event is the kick-off race for the United States Snowmobile Association’s season. Some of the winners of the weekend races in Portage County will be eligible to compete for a portion of a $100,000 purse in the USSA’s championships later in the season. Gates for the event open at 1 p.m. Friday, January 4, at the Portage County Fairgrounds; test races and tune-ups are slated to begin at 3 p.m. Racing happens from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $15 for a day pass, $20 for a weekend pass, and free for children 12 and younger.

GO Portage County Ice Wars. Portage County Fairgrounds, 4552 Fairground Rd., Amherst. For more information call 715-824-2176 or go to portagecountyicewars.com

While you’re in the area: Check out the Emmons-Hartman Creek segment of the national Ice Age Trail, a 1,200-mile route that traces the glacial history of glacial formations in Wisconsin’s far-distant past. You can traverse the Stevens Point part of the path via snowshoes, cross-country skis, or plain old boots as it loops through Portage County.

GO Ice Age Trail, 871 W. Oak Ridge Ln., Stevens Point, 715-344-0686, portagecoiat.org

Where to stay: The Artha Sustainable Living Center (9784 County Rd. K, Amherst, 715-824-3463, arthaonline.com) has three guest rooms on 90 acres of woodland and prides itself on having a small environmental footprint; nightly room rates range from $69 to $99. The Amherst Inn Bed and Breakfast (303 S. Main St., Amherst, 888-211-3555, amherstinn.com) is a 135-year-old Victorian Gothic with eight rooms convenient to the cross country ski paths in Standing Rocks County Park. It’s also within walking distance of the shops and galleries of downtown Amherst and the trout-rich Tomorrow River. Nightly room rates range from $75 to $95.

Where to eat: The Wooden Chair (1059 Main St., Stevens Point, 715-341-1133, thewoodenchairwisconsin.com) specializes in omelets and sandwiches at breakfast and lunch. Christian’s Bistro (3066 Village Park Dr., Plover, 715-344-3100, christiansbistro.com) has a dinner menu that features artisan cheeses, from-scratch flat breads, sauces, and an ever-changing roster of entrees.


Photograph: Rick Wallner