Chances are you’ve heard of Chequamegon if you’ve ridden in Wisconsin or Minnesota for any period of time – you may even have been lucky enough to draw a spot in the annual race of the same name held every September on some the trails. Dubbed as the Singletrack Capital of the Midwest, the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) trails are an IMBA Ride Center located in the area of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. With 6 areas or clusters of trails, it is an area prime for a long weekend of riding, and the Rock Lake trail (Namakagon unit) is considered an Epic ride by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).
Erik’s staff member J.J. sums up the fall riding in the Cable Hayward area like this: “Cable and Hayward area in Wisconsin is one my favorite areas to ride in the fall. From the firework like colors of the trees to the cooler temperatures (meaning less bugs attacking you), camping and riding is perfect.”
Some trails are also open to Fat Bikes come winter time, as well as the American Birkebeiner ski race held every February
Trail Length: Over 80 miles, with 27 miles as part of the Rock Lake trail, and 44 miles of continuous singletrack from Hayward to cable (Source IMBA). In fact, using double track and other trail types there are over 300 miles of trails! (Source CAMBA Trail Guide)
There is no trail pass required, but like many trails in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the CAMBA trails are volunteer and donation supported, so membership or volunteering is always appreciated. Some trailheads (Rock Lake TH, Sawyer County Forest, Mosquito Brook and OO) require parking fees.
Like much of the area, the Chequamegon National Forest and surrounding areas were created by glaciers, and as a result the area is sculpted into numerous small lakes and hilltops. There can be some steep climbs, and newer sections of the trail are designed in the “Flow” style. these trails are rhythmic in design and can be described as feeling like a roller coaster. As an IMBA Ride Center, however, there’s more than just flow – the variety of terrain available for different types of riders is great considering the overall length of the trail system.
One of JJ’s favorite rides is as follows: “By starting at the Rock Lake trail head you can combine it with other trails that makes up a 30 mile loop. While it does include some double track ski trail it allows you to ride past Namakagon Town hall and Wilson Lake Trail Heads. Within the past few years they have completed a section of trail that is singletrack that allows you to ride from Telemark Resort to Hatchery Creek. It includes more recent types of trails that are called flow trails, super fun sections that will make you smile. I tend to do the same sections two or three times before continuing my ride. ”
Trail Conditions: For up to date trail conditions, see the CAMBA Website
From Minneapolis Saint Paul, there are a number of ways to get to the area, but to reach Cable/Hayward, take I-35 north to Exit 165 and head East on 70 through Rock Creek, Grantsburg, Siren. and Spooner. At Spooner, Follow US-63 East until you reach the town of Hayward continue on this to head to Cable. It’s about 3 hours drive time.
From Madison and Milwaukee, take I-94 West to Eau Claire and take the US-53 North exit (Exit 70) through Chippewa Falls, Rice Lake and Spooner. Turn Right onto US63 on the north end of Spooner and continue on to Hayward and Cable.