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Wisconsin Bicycle Routes

Winona-Milwaukee

This trip crosses Wisconsin. The first third is practically all on bike trails, as is the last third. The middle portion is mostly on back roads with a few steep hills. Note that most of the long-distance trails require a state rail pass which can be purchased at self-service stations along the trails, at some area businesses, or directly from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

In the past I have taken Amtrak from Milwaukee to Winona and bicycled back. Unfortunately there seems to be no guarantee that Amtrak will transport the bike. Baggage service to Winona was discontinued several years ago. Some coaches have storage rooms capable of carrying a bicycle, but there appears to be no way of knowing in advance whether the train will be equipped with one. I would be interested in hearing any recent experiences.

Winona-Reedsburg

Winona, Minnesota, is on the Mississippi River directly across from Wisconsin. For those wishing to continue north to Minneapolis, Adventure Cycling's Section 7 of its Northern Tier route goes directly through Winona following the river on the Minnesota side. On the Wisconsin side, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation publishes a very nice series of maps, Great River Road (Mississippi River Trail) Bicycle Map. It can be downloaded from the DOT website.

From Winona, cross the Mississippi. Turn east on highways 35/54 to the very small settlement of Marshland. (Several years ago, a grant was announced for a "Great River State Trail - Winona Connector to provide linkage between Minnesota and Great River State Trail in Buffalo County," but so far as I know nothing has been built so far.) At Marshland, on the south side of the highway is a small parking lot and the northern terminus of the Great River State Trail.

Follow this trail to Onalaska where it connects to the LaCrosse River State Trail. At the junction of the two trails, the Three Rivers Trail follows the LaCrosse River to its junction with the Mississippi River just north of Downtown LaCrosse (click here for a bike map of LaCrosse).

Continue east on this trail to Sparta and the connection to the Elroy-Sparta State Trail. Take this trail to Elroy, where it joins the "400" State Trail.

Follow the 400 to the old depot in Reedsburg.

 

Buffalo County Map

Trempeleau County Map

LaCrosse County Map

Monroe County Map

Juneau County Map

Reedsburg-Baraboo

From Reedsburg to Merrimac the route follows the Wisconsin Bikeway. Here starts the on-road portion of this trip.

From the Reedsburg depot, take any city street north to 8th Street. Go east on 8th Street, which becomes Reedsburg Rd and county K. Turn south on Northwoods Dr (sometimes called Pine St). Jog briefly east on highway 23/33 (wide shoulder), turn south on Abelman Rd (also called Chapel Rd), and east on highway 136 through Rock Springs. Continue south on county DD and east on county W to Baraboo (city map).

 

Baraboo-Lodi

This map shows the route along the bike path leading south east from Baraboo, around the south end of Devil's Lake (very steep hills). The route (map) continues across the Merrimac Ferry, and along highways V and J to Lodi. The ferry normally operates from April 15 through November 30.

 

Lodi-Madison

From Lodi, go west on Highway 60 (Water St.), south on Riddle Rd (becomes Springfield-Lodi Rd, west on Black Hill Rd., and south on Springfield-Lodi Rd to its intersection with US 12. Then follow the bike path along US 12 to the Pheasant Creek Trail in Middleton. Take the Pheasant Creek Trail east, but get off at Parmenter St. Take Parmenter south to Hubbard. Follow Hubbard east until it ends at Old Middleton (Elmwood).

Go southeast on Old Middleton. At EuClaire Ave, pick up a marked Madison bike trail leading east parallel to the railroad tracks. A mix of trails and streets leads to the huge University of Wisconsin campus.

Bikeverywhere publishes its excellent Capitol City Bike Map, with maps of both Madison itself and the surrounding area in Dane County (I have sometimes helped with updates). It can be ordered on-line or purchased at many area bike stores. There is also a Madison bike map available free from local bike stores, but, in my experience, stores often run out. Dane County also has a map, but it has not been updated in some time.

 

 

Madison-Waukesha

From the university, go east on University Ave, then south on Mills St to the Southwest Bike Path. Follow this path east until it ends. Take the Isthmus bikeway north east and then south east to its end at Cottage Grove Ave. Go east on Cottage Grove Ave (county BB), south east on Vilas Rd (not to be confused with Vilas Hope Rd), and east on Clark Rd to Cottage Grove. Click here for a map (pdf) showing these connections.

From Cottage Grove to Waukesha, follow the Glacial Drumlin State Trail. (West map and east map). The trail is unpaved from Cottage Grove to Dousman. It is paved between Dousman and Waukesha.
Bikeverywhere's Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin bike map covers the route between Dousman and Lake Michigan.

 

Waukesha-Milwaukee

Between the end of the Glacial Drumlin State Trail on the west side of Waukesha and the New Berlin Trail on the east side, the bicyclist must traverse the somewhat confusing streets of Waukesha. Several years ago, Waukesha placed directional signs but they have faded and some have disappeared. Here is a map showing the connection between the two routes through Waukesha.

The paved New Berlin Trail runs from the eastern edge of Waukesha to Greenfield Park in Milwaukee County. Waukesha County no longer has trail maps on its web site, but the trail is shown on the Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin map. Traffic on the cross streets can be heavy.

At Greenfield Park, the route joins the Milwaukee County Oak Leaf Trail. The fastest route to Lake Michigan and downtown Milwaukee makes use of the Hank Aaron State Trail (HAST). To get to the HAST, go north on the Oak Leaf Trail. Just south of Blue Mound Road take a right onto the HAST. (The section from the Oak Leaf Trail to 94th Court is unpaved, awaiting reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange. To avoid the unpaved section--or if construction closes it--leave the Oak Leaf Trail at Washington St. Go east on Washington until it passes through a tunnel under railroad tracks. After passing through the tunnel, go north to Schlinger Ave. Go east on Schlinger to 94th Court. Go half a block north on 94th Court to the HAST.) This trail runs all the way east to 6th St. In its Spring/Summer 2012 issue, the magazine Rails to Trails published an excellent article on this trail.

At 6th street there are blue signs that direct you to Lake Shore State Park. (There is one error in the signs: just before 2nd St, a sign directs you north on an alley that is blocked off at its northern end. It is better to proceed to 2nd.) Following these signs leads to the park, the Summerfest grounds, Discovery World, and the Milwaukee Art Museum.

If continuing via the ferry to Michigan, go south at 2nd St, rather than north, until it ends at Maple St. Go east two blocks on Maple to its end at Kinnickinnic. Go south on Kinnickinnic and veer left on Bay St until its end at Russell. Go east on Russell until its end and then north to the ferry terminal.

     
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