Biking "Coulee Country" of Minnesota and Wisconsin
© Great River Publishing
Here is bike touring as you've seldom seen it, in an
area that explorer Zebulon Pike described as, "...altogether so variegated
and romantic that a man may scarcely expect to enjoy such but twice or
thrice in the course of his life!"
Short trips in the stunningly scenic Upper
Mississippi River Valley. Longer rides to quaint villages on quiet back
chill tunnels of the Elroy-Sparta National Trail. Tours of protected parks
and refuges with abundant wildlife and fantastic vistas. Hundreds of miles
of easy or challenging roads leading to fascinating places you've always
imagined might be out there somewhere.
There are nearly 140 miles of level, well maintained bike
paths located within the interconnecting trails noted below. Several small villages are
located along each of the trails. During the winter, most trails are open for x-country
skiing and, on the "400" trail, snowmobiling is allowed.
Each of the trail descriptions below includes a quick map for the trail
and a link to allow viewers to purchase a map online.
Photo by Bill Burke, Mississippi River Tours, Lansing, Iowa
(32 level miles, paved with limestone screening.) The three rock tunnels
and 33 trestles on the abandoned Chicago-Northwestern Railroad bed highlight the
Elroy-Sparta Trail. The Kendall and Wilton tunnels are 1/4 mile long and the Norwalk
Tunnel is 3/4 mile long--so bring a flashlight and a jacket and WALK your bikes through
Enter the Trail just
north of Elroy, Wisconsin, on Hwy 71, or south of Sparta off Highways 16 and 71. The
headquarters for the Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail is located the the restored railroad
depot in Kendall on Hwy 71, equal distance between Wildcat Mountain and Mill Bluff
State Parks and 18 miles off I-90-94. For more information, contact: Elroy-Sparta National
Trail, Inc., PO Box 153, Kendall, Wisconsin 54638. Phone 608-463-7109.
ROOT RIVER STATE TRAIL
(34 Miles. A paved, bikes only trail along the scenic
Root River between the
historic towns of Rushford and Lanesboro, Minnesota.)
These two delightful towns anchor the most scenic stretches of this trail. Start your trip
at the restored railroad depot in Rushford. The entire downtown of Lanesboro is listed on
the National Register of Historic Places. You can visit a winery or take a short canoe
trip. Outfitters in Rushford and Lanesboro provide a shuttle service. Drive east 18 miles
on Mn Hwy #43 to Rushford. Call 800-944-2670 for more information or
La Crosse River Trail
21.5 mile from Sparta to Medary Junction at the edge of the City of La
Crosse. Trail parallels the La Crosse River to link the Great River Trail to the
Elroy-Sparta and then the "400" Trail.
Great River Trail / Perrot State
24 miles from Onalaska, Wisconsin, north to Trempealeau, Perrot State
Park and the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge. This trail offers a unique opportunity
to bike through the Black River bottoms. Listen for sandhill cranes. Birding and wildlife
watching opportunities abound. Bring your binoculars! Other portions include
From Trempealeau to Perrot State Park, enjoy 500' foot high bluffs,
beautiful river views, Indian mounds, and Trempealeau Mountain. A natural groomed surface.
8.5 miles. Birding can be excellent in the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge. More on the Village of
22 miles, Elroy to Reedsburg, along the Baraboo River. The newest
trail in the Wisconsin State System is also considered to be one of the most scenic.
Visitors will enjoy wetlands, bluffland, croplands, pasture and river. The "400"
trail was named for the Chicago-Northwestern train that traveled the 400 miles between
Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul in 400 minutes.
Headquarters for the trail is at the renovated Reedsburg Depot.
Bicycles, child trailers and a powered bike are available for loan. Snowmobiling is
allowed on the trail during the winter months.
Contact 400 State Trail, Trail Headquarters, 240 Railroad St., PO Box 142, Reedsburg, WI
53959. Phone 608-524-2850.