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Wisconsin

Elroy-Sparta State Trail

The first rail-trail conversion in Wisconsin dating from 1967. This 32 mile lineal trail passes through three railroad tunnels in southwest Wisconsin and is now part of 101 miles of converted Chicago Northwestern Railway grade in the region. The trail is used for hiking, biking and snowmobiling. It is operated and maintained as part of the Wisconsin State Park and Trails system.

photo: Tunnel Number 1 between Kendall and Wilton WI

Length: 32.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Rail Trail
Agency: State
Entry Fee? No
     Fees are for bicyclists only, 16 and older, $4 per day or $20 per season.

Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Bicycling (on pavement)
Camping
Dogs - On leash
Fishing
Motorized vehicles - Snowmobiling
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running

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Location: Rural-links the communities of Elroy, Kendall, Wilton, Norwalk and Sparta
State(s): Wisconsin
Counties: Juneau and Monroe
Longitude: -90.27307
Latitude: 43.742635

Driving Directions

Runs from Elroy to Sparta. Trailhead in Elroy is at downtown Elroy Commons. To get to Elroy - exit I90 -94 at New Lisbon and follow signs on Hwy 80 to Elroy. Sparta Trailhead - exit I90 at Sparta on Hw 27 north. Follow signs to trailhead.

Description

Considered the first rail-to-trail in the United States, the Elroy-Sparta State Trail remains one of the most popular trails in the country. With three rock tunnels and five small towns along its 32.5-mile route, the trail is a favorite Wisconsin bicycling destination. Traveling between Sparta and Elroy, the trail stretches through the communities of Norwalk, Wilton and Kendall, passing by wetlands, prairies, farmland and unglaciated areas.

Three railroad tunnels highlight the trail which are each over 140 years old. The tunnels near Kendall and Wilton are each about 0.25 miles long. The tunnel between Norwalk and Sparta is 0.75 miles long. Flashlights and jackets are recommended in the tunnels. The tunnels are dark and cool, even on the brightest days and water from springs above the tunnels can trickle onto the trail. Bikers should walk bikes through the tunnels.

Additional Details

Width: 120 inches.
Primary Surface: Crushed Rock
Secondary Surface: None
Average Grade: 1%
Maximum Grade: 3%
Elevation Low Point: 812
Elevation High Point: 1,200
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:
1971

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Document: Bike4Trails regional map.
Document: Bike4Trails panel map, showing more detail.
Website: Bike4Trails regional trail system

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Park Ranger:
Jim Moorhead
Park Ranger
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources-Parks
c/o Wildcat Mountain State Park
P.O. Box 99
Ontario, WI 54651
(608) 337-4775

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/elroysparta/

Park Ranger:
Andrew Haffele
Park Ranger
Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources-Parks
E13660 Hwy. 33 East
P.O. Box 99
Ontario, WI 54651
(608) 337-4775
[email protected]

 

Photos

View from trail bridge. Photo by Greg Walther.

View from trail bridge. Photo by Greg Walther.

Scaring the monsters from the tunnel. Photo by Greg Walther.

Scaring the monsters from the tunnel. Photo by Greg Walther.

 

Birds going for ride. Photo by Greg Walther.

Birds going for ride. Photo by Greg Walther.

Reviews

Best WI has to offer

This is my absolute favorite family bike. Kids love the tunnels! It doesn't get any better than this! A great way to experience the Driftless Area.

October 12, 2017

 

 

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