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Bike Trails in the Coulee Region of Minnesota & Wisconsin

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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 roads. Bikers at the end of the (Sparta-Elroy) trail.The 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.

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Photo by Bill Burke, Mississippi River Tours, Lansing, Iowa

ELROY-SPARTA National Bike Trail   

(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 the tunnel.

Leaving a tunnel on the Elroy-Sparta bike trail.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.


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(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 visit 

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 Park

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 Trempealeau.

"400" Trail
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.


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