Road Biking Wisconsin  by M. Russ Lowthian

Road Biking Wisconsin Guide Book

by M. Russ Lowthian (Falcon Guides)
Road Biking Wisconsin  by M. Russ Lowthian
Road Biking Wisconsin features 41 carefully designed rides throughout the state, from the picturesque shore of Lake Superior in the north to the renowned and challenging kettle country in the south and everywhere in between. Local cyclist Russ Lowthian provides a sampling of the state's diverse offerings, including rides along the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers, amid rolling farmlands and lush forests, around crystal-clear lakes, and along scenic bluffs above Lake Michigan.

© 2008 M Russ Lowthian/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Road Biking Wisconsin" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 41.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 41.

Heralded as the “City of Festivals,” this metropolitan area is know for its rich ethnic heritage and breweries that grace the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline. Visiting the oldest city in Wisconsin, the ramble makes a loop around the Milwaukee River, up to the northern end of the city, then circles back along the bluffs above the Lake Michigan shoreline. After starting at the Urban Ecology Center, you will be offered a medley of parks and old settlements (now suburbs) to ride through. Along the way visit a community first named for the sighting of an albino deer and another village named for the river and hills there. Closer to the bluffs enjoy cruising down Lake Drive past many large turn-of-the-twentieth-century homes. Next you pass an early settlement named for the whitefish that were frequently spotted in the bay. Coasting into the downtown area, enjoy the historic architecture and modern sculptures as you cross the river and circle back to the north. With a small climb up the hill, you ride next to the Beer Barrel Line Trail back to the start. Now that you have had a taste of Milwaukee, it’s time to indulge.
Whitefish Bay, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 29
As you ride through Grant County, you will soon discover how the early lead-mining rush influenced the growth of this area and today’s road route options. This challenge offers both excitement and beauty. It leaves on Beetown Road in a community named after a Pennsylvania town and rolls south, passing a village named for a fierce storm that went through the area after the first settlers arrived. After rolling along toward the Mississippi River bluffs, use the next town, with a name that in Spanish means “lead,” for a rest stop. Now, in your low gear, climb back up the bluff and turn back to the north. After crossing the Grant River, ride up the valley floor to a town named for an overturned tree with a beehive in its trunk and a large lead nugget at its roots. Soon you reach a thriving agriculture community that went through names faster than you can shift from granny to your high ring. As you return from the northwest, you may have to use that low gear one more time on the roller coaster cruise back to Lancaster.
Lancaster, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 55
After the glacial period, the southern half of Walworth County was left with moraines of rolling hills, and several picturesque lake settings. The tour starts in a village known for its chocolate shops, next to the shore of Wisconsin’s second-deepest lake, then heads north to a lake community developed to sell newspapers. You then cut west across an old moonshine-runners’ route and pass through a village that the circus once used as its winter pasture grounds. Now circling to the northeast, visit a city that was named for a set of elk horns found in a tree. You then travel along a road where werewolves have been sighted. Soon the ramble crosses into Racine County and visits a city dubbed “Chocolate City U.S.A.” With an essence of chocolate still on your breath, pivot southwest on Spring Valley Road, back to Lake Geneva.
Lake Geneva, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 42
In a city with many miles of designated bike routes, this ride leaves from a park that overlooks the picturesque Sugar River valley. The cruise travels counterclockwise to the southwest, utilizing one of the city’s commuter bike routes into the dale. After crossing Military Ridge State Trail, you soon approach a town known as the “Troll Capital of the World.” An option is available in this Norwegian settlement for those who prefer to ride the crushed limestone trail back. Otherwise the cruise turns southeast down the valley floor, where you will soon be in a village named for George Washington’s home. You then circle back to the northeast and wind your way up past Sugar Ridge on your way to a village once named Corners. Here, at the crossroads of several roadways, the route safely maneuvers its way through town and then veers off to the east. Turning north, the grade of the road gradually ascends on another bike-designated roadway back into Madison.
Madison, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 43
Famous for its fish boils and berry farms, this section of Lake Superior’s rugged shoreline juts out into the lake to create the Apostle Islands. This adventurous ride leaves from Bayfield, a community named for a British Royal Navy surveyor, then meanders south along the bay’s shore to Washburn, a community named after one of Wisconsin’s earliest governors and a great place to stop for breakfast. From there you climb up from the bay enjoying the rolling forest floor as you travel inland. At the geographic high point of this challenge, shift into your high gear and revel in the long descent to a fishing village named for the horn of plenty. Then circle back through the northeast section of Chequamegon Bay, enjoying the flora and fauna as you make your way up to the point near Big Sand Bay Road. Soon you will pass through an Indian village named for its precipitous red cliffs, and then it’s an easy scenic ramble back down to Bayfield.
Bayfield, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 58
This ride offers those up for the test a true taste of coulee country. The route starts in a river community along the Mississippi and uses the paved trail through the river bottom marshlands to get you in and out of town. On the road you will roll through the countryside past several Swiss Valley Farms before approaching a village named for a town in Vermont. After climbing up and riding the spine of the ridge, you will pass through a town that was named for its location on a ridge between two other ridges. Now traveling south, the route rolls past a nature center in Norwegian Valley before reaching a town with a swimming beach and park on Coon Creek. As you follow Mormon Creek to the west, the route twists and turns as several Wisconsin rollers offer you one thrill after another. You will then travel on several residential streets to Myrick Park and return to the Three Rivers Trail for the ride back to Riverside Park in La Crosse.
Onalaska, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 57
Visiting this area is like journeying back 150 years in time. The ramble begins in a village where cream-colored brick buildings dominate the historic downtown landscape, and continues through countryside where many aspects have remained unchanged for more than a century. Leaving west through the tree-lined streets, you will follow Evergreen Boulevard up along Cedar Creek. Soon the route turns to the north and takes you through an old settlement where the stone tavern is the only sign of its legacy. As you make a loop up and around Paradise Road, one of the state’s “Rustic Roads,” the route cruises east into a village named after an Indian tribe, where two major trails once intersected. Following the Milwaukee River back to the southwest, the ramble comes full circle and crosses Cedar Creek on the historic toll bridge that this ride is named for. Soon you are passing through a village named for its multiple road intersections. After crossing Highway 60, you return to historic Cedarburg.
Cedarburg, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 28
This ride starts on the east side of Monroe County and circles up around the edge of rugged coulee terrain before passing through colorful cranberry fields. The route starts in a Lemonweir Valley community named for a great Indian chief with strong character and high ideals, and rolls to the north. The first town you come to was originally known as Blue Ridge, but the name was changed once a tunnel was built through the bluffs here. After climbing up the ridge, enjoy 10 miles of roller coaster fun before the cruise levels out on its way to the “Cranberry Capital of Wisconsin.” As you turn south, you’ll travel through a colorful marsh area with patches of jack pine forest before reaching an old railroad village. Now circling back to the west, continue to enjoy scenes of productive berry farms as you make your way back to Tomah.
Tomah, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 42
This tour visits an area with many geologic quartzite remnants that date back to prehistoric times and offers the cyclist the temptation of several scenic challenges. You leave from a town nestled along the river that was named after a French explorer. Riding counterclockwise, this metric century follows the river to the west and then coasts down to a town that is home to the Mid-Continental Railway Museum, where you can see a rare survivor of steam trains, the 1907 Chicago & Northwestern locomotive No. 1388. You will then circle back to the east, ride below the ridge, and travel along the southern cliffs of Devil’s Lake State Park. Next you’ll cruise south down to the Wisconsin River and enjoy free passage across it by ferry. On the other side, take a circle tour around Gibraltar Rock and then through a village the Indians named for its good fishing. After returning on the ferry, the challenge will demand your energy reserve as you climb up the ridge, passing a Scottish estate. Once at the summit, adjust your cadence and cruise back into Baraboo.
Baraboo, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 61
Praised by visitors from around the world as “Wisconsin’s Cape Cod,” this ride explores hundreds of coves offering culinary delights, state parks, and lighthouses. The route departs from a pioneer community that began with a couple sawmills and today is a maritime port city. As you follow along the Green Bay shoreline, visit a village named after a nest of duck eggs. Then climb the ridge and visit a town, originally a Menominee Indian village, with a name that means “trout fishing.” At the gates of Peninsula State Park, enjoy miles of scenic park roads with a lighthouse to visit along the way. After reaching a town with a name chosen from the Bible, meaning “doubly fruitful,” circle to the south to Lake Michigan’s side of the peninsula. Along this shoreline visit a community named after the captain who discovered this bay. After jogging out into the countryside, you return to the shore to a village named after a battle in France that affected the Revolutionary War. You then pass a few tree farms and roll back into Sturgeon Bay to sample a few Scandinavian traditions: the Door County fish boil topped off with a slice of the county’s cherry pie.
Sturgeon Bay, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 79
This ride shares some of the same roller coaster excitement that the Grandview Firehouse 50, a citizen bike race and recreational ride, enjoys each August here in the northwoods. The classic leaves from a community named in honor of the first locomotive engineer to pull a train into town. The route then heads northwest over rolling wooded lanes and meanders around forested glacial potholes, then over the Ice Age Trail. Soon you are rolling into a town named for the vice president of the lumber company that platted it.
Hayward, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 75
With hundreds of miles of bike-friendly roads, the options here are endless for exploring the cultural, historical, and natural attractions of southern Rock County. The cruise leaves from a city with a name that was coined from a French word meaning “handsome ground” and heads west. As you ride along a tree-lined lane, you will soon arrive at an 1860s water-powered gristmill open for tours most weekends. Farther west visit the site of a river town that met its demise after a railroad merger. Now rolling through farm fields up to Orfordville, the route soon circles east to a village named after a hymn sung at a town meeting. You then cross over the Rock River and pass through a stagecoach village on Turtle Creek. As you cross the creek you will see a remarkable railroad bridge, of European design, that was built in 1855 and is still in use today. You then circle back on the south bank of the creek and pass another village, given the French name for “limestone,” before returning to Beloit.
Beloit, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 62
A special place in the northern woodlands, this ride offers visitors and residents alike a genuine opportunity to enjoy the wild and scenic wonders of this diverse area. You’ll have a good time on a relaxing route that some locals find a great way to shake off the stresses of everyday life, especially after an NFL game. Starting in a town settled around a sawmill on the Namekagon River and known for its World Championship Lumberjack Show, this ramble first takes you out toward the Lake Chippewa Flowage. Soon you are climbing into the rolling hills as the route circles to the west into the open meadows and stands of jack pine forest. Upon reaching Beaver Lake Park, the tour turns north and enjoys the wildflowers along the road through the spring and summer or the colorful foliage in the fall. At the top of Chippanazie Road the ride comes full circle, returning on Company Lake Road back into Hayward.
Hayward, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 31
“Don’t let the Hodag scare you!” That’s what the local community stresses, even though it was a hoax created in 1868. The folklore surrounding this frightening monster with razor-sharp claws has turned the local legend into a celebration throughout the years. Like the Hodag’s backbone, bristling with dozens of gleaming white horns, the route you are soon to embark on is filled with hairpin curves that reach up into the fingers of the lakes you pass. You will enjoy rolling through the forest at the north end of the cruise on Gypsy Road, where black squirrels are common. On River Road you ride into a town where baseball is played on snowshoes. On the homestretch you will follow a route with jagged right and left turns. It is like you were stepping down the beast’s back as you follow along the flowage of the Wisconsin River back to Hodag Park in Rhinelander.
Rhinelander, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 54
The Black Hawk War of 1832 attracted a lot of attention to what would become Wisconsin. This scenic route travels through some of the area where this tribal conflict played out, in lush valleys where creeks flow between the mountain-like hills. You will head northwest from a town named for its rich soil, then climb up Hustler Ridge and ride the undulating spine with its scenic vistas. As the route meanders along the ridge, it soon circles back to the south. After the next descent, you will pass through a village that was named after the mayor of Madison, who had suggested naming the town Janesville. In the next valley that you roll into, stop in a village named for its bear population. Coming full circle, you will pass through a village named for a Great Lakes steamer captain before you cross and then follow the Pine River. After passing a oneroom schoolhouse museum, you will soon be back in Richland Center and ready to look at some of the buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Richland Center, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 52
On this route you will explore some of the same Jefferson County roads that Lance Armstrong used to test his equipment before the Tour de France. The challenge departs from a town named after a general who put down the Black Hawk uprising, then travels northeast through the rolling countryside. Soon you will visit a town on the shores of Rock Lake, which is said to have sacrificial pyramids at its bottom. Farther north visit the town where TREK bikes are made. Now rolling east, the route crosses the Crawfish River at Old Plank Road. You then arrive in a community on the Rock River, where you should visit the fifty-seven-room Historic Octagon House. Now circling to the south, ride through the river-bottom flats and pass through a town that, at the turn of the twentieth century, became the dairy center of the state. Riding the final stage of the challenge, pass through the county seat with its Civil War era architecture. Now it’s just a short jaunt back to Fort Atkinson.
Fort Atkinson, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 67
This classic ride mirrors the excellent Chippewa Valley Century Ride established as an annual Memorial Day weekend bike event that serves great beer and brats at the end. The route leaves from a city that at one time had the largest sawmill operation under one roof, and circles around to the north, passing the Old Abe Recreational Trail, which runs parallel to the Chippewa River. You will visit a village that was originally named for its red clay banks, and after passing the historic Cobban Bridge, you enter a town that was named for the president of a university. After crossing over the Holcombe Flowage, the route takes you into Rusk County to the confluence of the Flambeau and Chippewa Rivers, then turns away from the river and follows the rolling terrain around several lakes before crossing over the Ice Age Trail. You then circle back to the south along the verdurous irrigated farm fields running through the Chippewa Valley and discover several little towns along the way. Upon your return to Chippewa Falls, the route passes through the zoo and then back to sample a brew at the Leine Lodge.
Chippewa Falls, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 101
This metric century starts at a park along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, in a town rich in maritime history, and tours parts of a county with the same name as the river and city. You will roll along the sandy dunes, pass through a Polish settlement, and then ride down to a village named after President Grover Cleveland. Now climbing away from the lake, the route rolls west to a village with a stagecoach inn and historic polling station. You will twist and turn along a couple rivers and follow the shore of a small lake before crossing over the third river, where the rocks in the water inspired a village’s name. Now rolling to the north, you visit an old town that was named after a settler who built a stone tavern here. You then head east over undulating terrain and pass through a hillside town with a magnificent church. Soon you visit another community where the town name has been forgotten, but you can still buy an ice-cream cone for a quarter.
Manitowoc, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 63
In a county named after an Indian tribe whose hunting grounds once dominated the area, this ride leaves from a town named for Wisconsin’s first governor. You will ride north and pass a state park that is also named after this governor, then climb up Pleasant Ridge. At the top enjoy several miles of scenic vistas before coasting down into the next valley, where you will find a photo opportunity at a historic gristmill. As the route follows the creek down the valley floor from the mill, you will soon turn onto a road that soldiers from Prairie du Chien built in 1835. The ride continues south through Long Valley and a town that has a restaurant with a bike on its roof.
Dodgeville, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 72
This ride starts in a well-known town on the south shore of Lake Superior. You will leave from a park with not only great wildlife viewing, but also an artesian well to fill your water bottles. The cruise travels counterclockwise, first along the sandy beaches of Lake Gitche Gumee as the seagulls frolic in the breeze and then west past the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center. You then head south on a tour past several small towns that contributed to the area’s history. Along the way, stop at a cheese shop in a town named after a French settler, then roll down Moonshine Alley to a village named for the Freemasons. After riding past a field of sunflowers, travel through a community with a large sawmill operation before returning back through the historic district of Ashland.
Ashland, WI - Road Biking - Trail Length: 42

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