Summer is officially here and there’s no better time to get out and go for a ride. Looking to explore a new corner of the state this summer? Wisconsin offers a tremendous diversity of landscapes; from the heavily wooded Northern counties to the rolling hills in the center of the state to the craggy bluffs in the Southwestern corner. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best the state has to offer in terms of biking, camping and relaxing, so read on and find your new favorite retreat from the rat race!
First up, something a little different. Some of you may be familiar with RAGBRAI, an annual summer bike ride across the state of Iowa, Wisconsin has its own version, the slightly less melodic, GRABAAWR which follows the course of the Wisconsin River down through the state. Not something to tackle without any training, but definitely a bucket-list item. You could use the ERIK’S Shop Rides for training!
If you’re looking for something historic and thirst-quenching then consider a tour of Milwaukee’s historic breweries by bike. These events have worked hard to shed their “party on wheels” image and focus on the historic nature of the breweries and can be very informative
Starting up North, the Northern Highland American Legion Forest was established in 1925 and is over 200,000 acres of land around the headwaters of the Wisconsin, Flambeau and Manitowosh rivers. There are literally hundreds of miles of trails throughout the NHAL and nearly all of them are able to be biked on. There is a mix of a surfaces and several mountain bike specific trails as well. The nearby town of Minoqua is a popular summer vacation destination as well.
If you’re interested in seeing the best that the northern part of Wisconsin has to offer consider this route. Start with the Wild Rivers Trail. A 104 mile trail that stretches from Rice Lake all the way to Superior. While up near Superior, check out the amazing waterfalls in Pattison State Park, the 4th tallest waterfall east of the Rockies can be found here! Then take the Gandy Dancer Trail back south, it cuts through Minnesota before ending in St. Croix Falls.
If you’re looking for something more centrally located for a day trip, consider the Wild Goose State Trail, a 34 mile trail that travels through Fond du Lac and Dodge counties. Running next to the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge, the Wild Goose Trail passes through small towns with many opportunities for stopping at small shops, picnicking and camping in parks. Like many of the trails in Wisconsin, this is a reclaimed rail bed so it is flat and offers some great views of the surrounding landscapes.
If day trips are more your style and you’re in Central Wisconsin, then New Glarus Woods State Park has some excellent camping and hiking and is right down the street from the famous New Glarus Brewery. The State Park trails connect to the 24 mile Sugar State Trail. You can drive down to New Glarus, or make use of the Badger State Trail to get down there as well.
Tucked against Sturgeon Bay, Potowatami State Park offers road and mountain biking opportunities as well as a 75-foot observation tower that provides a breathtaking view of the surrounding forest where on a clear day you can see for 16 miles!
And last, but not least, enjoy views of Ol’ Man River himself in Perrot State Park. Hugging the bluffs along the Mississippi River’s East bank, Perrot State Park offers views of the river and access to the Great River Trail, which leads to the town of Trempealeau, first established in 1852. Trempealeau is a popular tourist town, full of historic buildings and offering views of Lock and Dam #6 on the River.
This list is by no means exhaustive, or even authoritative, the best thing about Wisconsin is the sheer amount of trails and parks just waiting to be explored. While these suggestions focused on areas that are popular, you can also build your own route(s) using websites like this one or find an event in Wisconsin and make a biking weekend out of it!
Wherever your travels take you this summer, be sure to stop by your local ERIK’S and get your bike inspected before heading out! Then, Show Your 77 out in the state and post to our Facebook page! Now, get out there and ride!