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Reader's Route: Nicolette Reker and the Winona LaX Gravel Loop

Today's Reader's Route comes from reader Nicolette Reker. This route connects the towns of Winona and La Crosse and rides on both sides of the Minnesota/Wisconsin border. It also includes several food and drink recommendations and the Trempealeau Wildlife Refuge.

Submission from Nicolette Reker:

The gravel roads between Winona, MN and La Crosse, WI are remote, offering a sense of solitude that is hard to find elsewhere. The route took me into deep valleys 500 feet below the ridge-line and the ascents present a mix of gradual and steep grades which can be quite challenging but incredibly rewarding. This route only features three bluff climbs in total, which when stretched out over an 85 mile route makes it accessible to many different levels of riders.

The route passes through the town of Pickwick, MN where you will find the historic gristmill that was constructed in the 1850s and is one of Minnesota's oldest surviving water-powered mills. This route also has an option to stop for lunch (and a beer?) in Winona at the halfway point, and there are so many places to try in this sweet little river town. My favorites are the Blue Heron Cafe for lunch and Island City Brewing Co. for beverages. On the way back to La Crosse, the route cuts through the Trempealeau Wildlife Refuge, which is known for hundreds of migrating birds especially in the springtime. To top it off, I swung through Pearl Street Brewing Co. in La Crosse for a beer (pro tip: if you ride your bike to this brewery on Wednesdays, you get a free beer). This route is one of my favorites because it features so many beautiful aspects of the driftless region and the surrounding communities.

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