Wisconsin Wanderlust Rail Trail Bike Tour

Come discover and explore  Central Wisconsin on this five day bike tour!

Enjoy 6 car free days on this rail-trail ride between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River in the heart of Wisconsin; including a day on the famous Elroy-Sparta Trail. This trail is famous as it is the first rails-to-trails project in the US, completed in 1965.  Since then, Wisconsin has built over 1,800 miles of rail trails. It’s time to go explore Wisconsin’s efforts while enjoying the sights, towns, and beauty of this mid-western state.

 

You will ride the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, Glacial Drumlin State Trail, Military Ridge State Trail, Capital City Trail, Elroy-Sparta State Trail, Great River State Trail and more!

Tour Highlights

Madison WI

Glacial Drumlin State Trail

Elroy-Sparta Rail Trail

Mt. Horeb

Cedarburg WI

Lodging Options

The Washington House Inn - Night 1

La Charmont - Night 2

The Hotel Indigo - Nights 3 & 4 & 5

Day 1: 

We begin by meeting everyone in Milwaukee, where we will hop on our bikes and head to Cedarburg.  Lake Michigan will initally be our companion as we pedal along the Oak Leaf Trail and the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, following the route of the Milwaukee-Sheboygan railway.  Cedarburg was historically a German town that was home to many woolen mills and gristmills.  Today more than 200 of the historical buildings have been preserved making it a fascinating and lively downtown area to explore.  We will ride into our lodging the historic Washington House Inn, that was built in 1886 that is an amazing blend of history and elegance.  Spend the afternoon roaming and exploring or log a few more miles on the trail.

Day 2:   

Today we shuttle from Cedarburg to Trempleau and begin riding from this quirky fun river town. We’ll work our way back across the state throughout the week. Today brings us to one of the riding highlights of this trip: The Great River State Trail. The trail travels through prairies and backwaters of the upper Mississippi River Valley. Built on an abandoned Chicago-Northwestern railroad line, the trail has a finely crushed limestone surface and passes through two National Wildlife Refuges.

The trail is in Wisconsin’s scenic Coulee Region, part of the Driftless Area that was untouched by glaciers during the last Ice Age. Visitors to the Great River Trail will enjoy the changing wetlands of the Mississippi River backwaters, 500-foot bluffs, hardwood forests, unique sand prairies and oak savannahs.

Lodging for tonight is at the The Charmant Hotel – a Luxurious Boutique Hotel In The Heart Of La Crosse. The hotel is a renovated candy factory, built in 1898.  Architectural details of the original building have been preserved and re-imagined, including maple wood flooring, wood beams, and exposed brick, some say that the sweet smell of candy still emanates from the bones of the building.  Be sure to wander down from the hotel to the banks of the mighty Mississippi River!

 

Day 3: 

A short shuttle brings us to today’s ride and the rail-trail that started it all: The Elroy-Sparta State Trail! It  remains one of the most popular trails in the country. With three rock tunnels and five small towns along its 32.5-mile route, this trail is a favorite bicycling destination. We will pass through quaint communities and by wetlands, prairies, farmland, and non-glaciated areas (the Driftless Area).  Three railroad tunnels highlight the trail which are each over 140 years old.

Tonight we transfer to Madison to enjoy our first of three nights at the amazing Hotel Indigo.

 

Day 4:  

A day to explore! Madison has a lot to offer. From The Hotel Indigo we will ride the Military State Trail out to Mt. Horeb for lunch. Mt Horeb is well known for it’s Norwegian heritage and trolls will welcome you to town! Lining the streets, in stores, it’s where trolls play. We’ll enjoy lunch at the Grumpy Troll Brewery.  After lunch you will want to take in the National Mustard Museum, more than 6,000 mustards from all 50 states.  The van is happy to carry your beer and mustard finds for you.

After you’ve taken in the charm of this small town, you will have the option of riding back to Madison should you want more miles on your bike, or returning with the van. Relax for the rest of the afternoon or set out to explore Madison.

Day 5:

Today we ride the Sugar River Trail, known as the Limburger Special and then on to the famous Badger State Trail.  New Glarus is known as -Little Switzerland, where they celebrate all things sweet, chocolate cheese and beer.  This is a foodie paradise with a plethora of restaurants, shops and artisan producers of all kids of food.  This is a very relaxing day with plenty of time to explore and get to know these fascinating little towns.  We ride back to our lodging at the Hotel Indigo.  Today you need to be prepared to “over relax”.

Day 6:

A short shuttle ride brings us to the Glacial Drumlin State Trail which opened in 1986 and follows the old Chicago and North Western Railway track. This trail provides a glimpse into the past when glaciers bore down on southeastern Wisconsin in the last Ice Age. Keep your eyes open for Drumlins, low, teardrop-shaped hills formed by rock and sand moving under glaciers. The trail passes through wetlands and rivers. Some of the wildlife frequently seen include large sandhill cranes, deer, wild turkeys, foxes, and other critters. Sixteen wooden bridges are situated along the trail; of these, two are more than 300 feet long!  The time has come to bid our farewells, and start planning our next tour together.

I love the fact that each bike is outfitted with a Garmin with the route for each day pre-programmed so it’s ok if the group gets spread out a bit. We were all together but still had a sense of ‘freedom’

Bill B  Saint Paul, Minnesota

Trip Information

6

Trip Length - Days

bike-rail
Tour Type
Rail Trail
Active-Difficulty
Tour Rating
Active
New York Finger Lakes Bike Tour Elevation
Route Overview
25-50

Daily Mileage

Check In Location
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Wisconsin Wanderlust bike tour map
Tour Area
SAG Vehicle New York Finger Lakes Bike Tour
Support & Gear Vehicle
18

Minimum Age

Meals

5 Breakfasts | 5 Lunches | 3 Dinners

Pricing
  • PP Double Occupancy

    $2125
  • Single Supplement*

    $515
  • Standard Bike Rental

    $180

*This is required if you are traveling solo or if you are traveling with someone but require separate beds.

RESERVE ONLINE BY DATE

Select your departure date and click to reserve your bike tour!