20 of the Finest Routes for Mountain Biking in Wisconsin For a memorable vacation, check out this rundown of the top mountain biking routes in Wisconsin.
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Some of the best mountain bike trails in the United States can be found in Wisconsin, which might seem like an odd place to look for mountains.
Despite its lack of mountains, the state is home to many fun and challenging biking obstacles, including hills and glacial landforms.
Since there is a practically infinite number of potential routes for mountain biking in Wisconsin, I’ve taken it upon myself to compile a list of the best. There are, however, some truly exceptional routes in this Wisconsin biking guide.
Wisconsin is known for its winding ridges and mounds, which are incorporated into the majority of the state’s bike trails.
Wisconsin is home to some of the best mountain biking in the country, so let’s get right to it and check out some of the top spots!
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Popular Northern Wisconsin Mountain Bike Routes Central Wisconsin’s Finest Mountain-Biking Routes South Wisconsin’s Finest Singletrack for Mountain Biking A few frequently asked questions about Wisconsin’s top mountain biking routes
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Best Mountain Bike Trails in Northern Wisconsin
1. Nicolet Roche Trail – Langlade County
Length: 19.3 miles
The Nicolet National Forest is home to this primarily single-track, out-and-back path. Nicolet Roche is one of the most challenging trails in the area due to its technical terrain, natural obstacles, and significant climbing.
As you make your way through Nicolet, you’ll pass through some beautiful forest on this isolated trail. The Civilian Conservation Corps planted many of the trees that are still standing today.
You can find lodging and a wide variety of dining options in the nearby city of Langlade. There are numerous lakes and camping opportunities nearby, making this an ideal destination for nature lovers.
To round out your Nicolet Roche experience, head south from the trail to a series of rapids on the river. Incredible cabins, some of which come equipped with hot tubs, are available throughout Wisconsin.
Many popular October Wisconsin activities, such as viewing autumn foliage and riding a Northwoods zip line, are available here.
2. Lowes Creek Trail – Eau Claire
Wiscosin’s springtime Dells of the Eau Claire
Length: 10 miles
Nearly ten miles of singletrack mountain biking trails can be found in Lowes Creek County Park, which is located within the city limits of Eau Claire.
They are mostly level, but there may be small bumps and logs to hop over or creeks to cross.
The trailhead is very accessible from Eau Claire, and the park itself is home to a picnic shelter and a trout stream.
Keep in mind that Lowes Creek, on the other side of town, is only a short distance from Altoona Lake. After a day of biking, you can unwind at the large sandy beach and BBQ area.
3. Namakagon Cluster – Namakagon
Length: 0.7 to 14.8 kilometres
Level Classification: Simple to Complicated
The Namakagon Cluster is a mountain biker’s dream, with its eight trails stretching for nearly 56 miles. With clearly marked signs at every crossroad, this trail system is a breeze to get around.
Distance and difficulty of the trails ensure that all levels of mountain bikers, from novices to seasoned pros, will enjoy their time here. The easiest and shortest trail is the 0.75-mile two-track Wilson Lake Spur.
If you’re looking for a serious challenge on your bike, the hardest part of the 12-mile Rock Lake trail is the Hildebrand Lake Loop.
The 2.4-mile hillside loop offers stunning views of Hildebrand and Frels Lakes, as well as rock gardens and a 100-foot bridge that is only 18 inches wide.
4. Rock Lake – Namakagon
Length: 12 miles
Level Constantly challenging
One of the longest routes in the Namakagon Cluster is to Rock Lake, which was discussed in the previous entry. If you like a good challenge, this is the best option for you.
Though Rock Lake appears simple at first, don’t be fooled by its mostly flat beginning. When you reach the beginning of the Hildebrand Lake Loop (described above), things will quickly become extremely challenging. In the beginning of the Loop, there is a small section of loose rock.
If you’re looking for something to do after finishing the Rock Lake trail, I highly recommend making the 40-mile trip north to Chequamegon Bay on Lake Superior and the city of Ashland.
Twenty more miles take you to Bayfield, the port of entry to the Apostle Islands. Hiking and kayaking aren’t the only outdoorsy things to do in the Chequamegon area, though.
5. WinMan Trails – Vilas County
Length All told, it’s 14 miles long.
Level From Simple to Complicated
Trail users of all skill levels can enjoy Vilas County’s more than 14 miles of machine-built trails. Most of the trails cross difficult terrain, but are still manageable for beginners.
To make sure that even the most picky mountain biker is satisfied, the trail system includes both easy and more challenging technical trails.
South of Winchester is where you’ll find the trails. You can find a place to stay in town without much trouble if you’re a cyclist, and staying a while to explore the parks and lakes in the area is highly recommended.
6. Ahnapee State Park Trail – Door County
Length: 48 miles
Among the many long mountain bike routes in Wisconsin, the Ahnapee Trail stands out. This multi-use trail, which was formerly a rail corridor and now spans nearly 50 miles, is open for a variety of outdoor activities, including walking, horseback riding, and bicycling.
The path is relatively level and about 9 feet wide on average. The long, flat trail may sound boring, but there are many interesting stops along the way.
Visit the Bruemmer Zoo and the historic (and supposedly haunted!) Kewaunee Inn while taking in the beautiful scenery along the Ahnapee and Kewaunee Rivers.
The Ahnapee Trail has three large campgrounds and plenty of other amenities for hikers.
Intriguingly, the Ahnapee marks the end of the 1,200-mile-long Ice Age National Scenic Trail, which runs entirely within Wisconsin. It ranks high on the list of recommended activities in Door County.
You should also visit some of Door County’s finest cabins.
7. Hickory Ridge – Bloomer
Length: 15 miles
Hickory Ridge is not a continuous trail but rather a set of interconnected loops, with a total distance of about 15 miles. The average difficulty of the trails is rated as intermediate, though some of the individual trails may be more difficult than that.
Hickory Ridge is a remote singletrack not far from the town of Bloomer that passes through wild woods, up ridges, and down to several small lakes.
Fishing, camping, and birdwatching can all be enjoyed at the nearby Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area.
The Lowes Creek Trail (#2 on this list) is located less than 40 miles from the city of Eau Claire, making it possible to visit both trail systems in a single trip.
Best Mountain Bike Trails in Central Wisconsin
8. Human Powered Trails – La Crosse
Length: 9 miles
Level A challenge
Located in the Upper Hixon Forest, Human Powered is home to 850 acres of gorgeous forestland with 9 miles of designated mountain bike trails.
Meanwhile, in Lower Hixon Forest, you can choose between 11 miles of trails dedicated to hikers and another 3.5 miles of a shared trail for bikers and walkers.
The primary biking route begins gently on open ground but quickly transitions to challenging singletrack that winds its way through the woods. Experienced mountain bikers will love this terrain because it presents a number of challenging obstacles, including tight turns, steep inclines, and rapid descents.
La Crosse, a picturesque city on the Mississippi River, is the nearest major population center. It is recommended to spend some time in the city if you are planning a longer stay in the area.
Take a stroll along the river at night, check out some classic cars at the Dahl Auto Museum, or take in some international landscape design at the International Friendship Gardens.
9. Nine Mile Forest – Wausau
Lengthtotaling 33.5 miles
LevelThe Scale of Ease to Challenging
The Nine Mile Forest is a well-kept park with numerous marked off-road biking trails ranging in difficulty from expert loops to kid-friendly shorts.
13.5 miles are narrow, singletrack trails through the woods, while the other 20 miles are much wider. Despite being less than 4.5 miles in length, the South Loop is the most challenging.
The Recreation Area brochures conveniently feature a trail map labeled with both trail name and difficulty rating.
Outside of Wausau, close to Rib Mountain State Park and the Wisconsin River, is where you’ll find Nine Mile Forest. It’s a must-do if you find yourself in the heart of Wisconsin.
10. Levis Mound – Clark County
Length: A total of 24 miles
LevelGradient from Simple to Complicated
Ascending the Levis and Trow Mounds are the most challenging sections of the singletrack trail network at the Recreational Area known as Levis Mound.
Down in the valley, the trails are more beginner-friendly because they remain primarily within the woods. However, the 300-foot-tall sandstone bluffs are still visible and visible from the easier routes.
Deer, turkeys, and even coyotes are just some of the wild animals that call this gorgeous forest home.
There are a number of spacious picnic areas in the neighborhood, as well as restrooms, showers, and other conveniences.
11. Hartman Creek State Park – Waupaca
Length: 9.5 miles
Biking enthusiasts of all skill levels will enjoy the State Park’s trails, which run along the shore of Hartman Lake.
The full singletrack loop is only about 10 miles long, but it can be broken down into shorter, easier loops.
The first, called the Green Loop, is the simplest. The only challenging section of the trail is the later-encountered Black Loop.
Waupaca, a nearby town, is ideally suited for an overnight stay on account of the abundance of parks and natural areas in the area, as well as the numerous lakes.
12. 400 State Trail – Reedsburg
Length: 22 miles
Another former rail line has been transformed into a level, scenic trail ideal for cycling, walking, and riding horses.
As the name “The 400” suggests, this is a segment of the railroad that once linked Chicago and Minneapolis.
Views of the scenic Baraboo River and impressive rock formations are common along the 400 State Trail as it winds through rural Wisconsin.
The prairies will occasionally give way to forests, and there are a number of towns along the way where you can get food and rest.
Several charming bars and eateries line the La Valle Mill Pond, making this picturesque town even more appealing.
13. Badger State Trail – Dane County
Length: 40 miles
The charming Badger State Trail also follows the route of a defunct railroad. The trail heads out from Madison, the state capital, and travels mostly flat to the state’s edge, where it meets the Wisconsin-Illinois border.
Traveling the forty miles will take you through a variety of landscapes, including farmland, meadows, prairies, ravines, and, of course, a number of small towns.
The highlight of this trail is a 1,200-foot tunnel that runs near the town of Monticello.
The tunnel’s length isn’t the only unusual aspect; it was constructed on a curved base, so once you’re inside, you can’t see the exit!
14. Woolly Trail – St. Croix Falls
Length: 6 miles
The Woolly Trail offers a variety of terrain and difficulty levels just outside of St. Croix Falls.
Any level of cyclist, from intermediate to advanced, can enjoy this site’s offerings. Most of the technical difficulties on the trail can be found in the more strenuous sections.
Regardless, the network is straightforward to navigate thanks to the difficulty indicators placed at each node.
A National Scenic Riverway can be found in St. Croix Falls, providing a scenic backdrop for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and canoeing.
15. Bearskin State Trail – Oneida County
Wisconsin’s Bearskin State Trail is crossed by this old-fashioned wooden trestle in Minocqua.
Length: 18 miles
Bearskin is just over 18 miles long and goes from Minocqua to Heafford Junction; it is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful trails in Wisconsin.
This former railroad bed is now one of the best mountain bike trails for novices, with only a single, manageable hill to pedal up. The trail passes through a diverse forest ecosystem, providing glimpses of water features like lakes, springs, and creeks.
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest offers a wide variety of outdoor pursuits, including hiking, camping, canoeing, and fishing, and is a must-see for any Bearskin visitor.
The Hiawatha Trail is another option for mountain biking in the area; it follows the same railroad as Bearskin and is six miles in length.
Best Mountain Bike Trails in South Wisconsin
16. Blue Mound State Park – Blue Mounds
Length: 13 miles
The Blue Mound State Park is close to Blue Mounds, Dane County, and features one of the most challenging off-road biking trails in southern Wisconsin.
Here, you can choose between three different singletrack loops and one out-and-back route. The Tour of Blue Mound incorporates all three loops into a continuous circuit.
The first two segments, humorously titled Gneiss and Overlode, are medium-difficulty trails with multiple points of interest, such as ruins of ancient walls.
Holy Schist, the final stretch, is extremely challenging even for seasoned bikers.
17. Lake Geneva Canopy Tours – Lake Geneva
Length: 12 miles
LevelFrom Simple to Complicated
Canopy Tours is an adventure park in Lake Geneva that features bike trails across 100 acres of maintained woodland. It’s a great place to get started because the trails are enjoyable for hikers of all ages and skill levels.
The trails are split up into three different categories, making it simple to choose the right one depending on your level of expertise.
The path is relatively level and easy to navigate, while the more difficult one has obstacles and twists and turns. You’ll need all your skills for the expert section, as the trail is only a few hundred yards long but is jam-packed with perilous features.
Zipline tours and a high ropes course are just two of the extras at Canopy Tours. Visit the local golf course for some laid-back outdoor fun.
Also, Lake Geneva’s sandy shore is conveniently located on the other side of town. This is without a doubt one of the most well-known MTB routes in all of Wisconsin, and it also happens to be one of the best things to do in Lake Geneva.
Please refer to my Lake Geneva lodging recommendations.
18. John Muir and Emma Carlin trails – Kettle Moraine State Park
Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest
Length Approximately 55 miles
Level Simple to Moderate
The state president of the International Mountain Biking Association claims that the trails in Kettle Moraine State Forest are the most frequently used in the entire state of Wisconsin.
Because of its many hills and glacial landforms, Kettle Moraine State Park is a mountain biker’s paradise.
John Muir and Emma Carlin refer to the two major train lines that run through Southern Kettle Moraine. The former features a 12-mile singletrack that is the longest of five looped routes.
There are three loops in the slightly reduced Emma Carlin network. The Kettle Scuttle, a 40-mile loop that incorporates a good portion of both trail networks, is another option.
There are easy trails that are great for kids to try out. There are some steep inclines and random obstacles on the other trails, but on the whole they’re only moderately challenging.
You won’t find a more beautiful place to go mountain biking in all of Wisconsin.
19. Alpine Valley – East Troy
Length: 8 miles
Level Extremely challenging
Alpine Valley is an independent singletrack loop with a maximum incline of 17 degrees, making it one of the most challenging mountain bike trails in Wisconsin.
The trail begins with a mile-long uphill climb and only gets more difficult from there as it passes through wooded and open terrain.
Alpine Valley is the place to go if you want to get your heart racing while mountain biking.
East Troy, which is close to Alpine Valley, has great views of Lake Beulah and a railroad museum, as well as plenty of restaurants and bars to unwind in after you finish the trail.
20. Rockport Park – Janesville
Length: 7 miles
Level Very Simple to Somewhat Complicated
Multiple miles of well-kept singletrack trails await novice and intermediate mountain bikers at Rockport Park. The trails are laid out in two main loops, with additional spurs and connections in between.
Although there are few truly technical sections, there are many challenging ascents and descents through the forest.
There are many other things to do in Rockport Park, so it’s recommended that you set aside at least a full day to explore the area. Kids can enjoy the expansive playground, the nearby hiking trails, and the swimming pool complete with diving board.
Janesville, the city the park is in, is a great place to spend some time thanks to its proximity to the river, numerous nearby golf courses, and beautiful parks and gardens. A number of Wisconsin’s finest ski areas can be found in and around Janesville.
What I think are Wisconsin’s finest mountain biking routes, and I hope you agree. If you’re a mountain biker in Wisconsin, which trail do you recommend?