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Wisconsin Adventure Bicycle Route


The Wisconsin Adventure Bicycle Route is a top-to-bottom bikepacking route by Frank Hassler covering the entire length of Wisconsin with photography from Scott Haraldson. The route is ~70% unpaved and snakes through farmland in the south, deep forest in the north, and hits on everything we love about Wisconsin bikepacking in this epic adventure.

Created by: Frank Hassler


All Photos by: Scott Haraldson



This route strings together a series of gravel and doubletrack trail networks, via the most rustic and wild roads that we could find in-between. It's not always straightforward or efficient, but always adventurous and scenic. The route starts at the Point of Beginning. This is the spot where, in 1831 the surveying of the state of Wisconsin began. Every county, town and plot of land in the state is measured from this point (or rather a post about 1/2 mile east of the roadside marker). So it seems like an appropriate place to start.


The Wisconsin Adventure Bicycle Route has two courses for two different types of adventures: The Gravel Course and the Mountain Bike Course.


Route Map


The Gravel Course shares most of the same route as the MTB course, but omits the singletrack trails and any roads or trails that would not be suitable for gravel and touring tires. The Gravel Course is therefore the more straightforward and easier options, and at times can serve as an alternative track for mountain bikers when wet trail conditions or other issues don’t allow one to ride the trail segments.


The Mountain Bike Course includes singletrack trails that are part of six different mountain bike trail networks along the western part of the state. This course also includes rough ATV trails and sandy roads that require technical riding skills and bigger tires.



Trail Notes

There is an MTB version of the route as well, which includes 100 miles of singletrack and a handful of more remote and rock or sandy backroads and ATV Trails, growing to over 700 miles in length.


Getting to the Start: The fact that the route starts and finishes in rural and remote areas respectively is a feature of the route, but it also makes getting to the start and finish somewhat difficult. Best option is to have a friend drop you off and pick you up. Galena Illinois makes a good overnight town just a 5-10 mile ride from the Point of Beginning, and Bayfield is close to the north end.


There are many miles of ATV trails on the route. ATVs are the primary trail users, and in the interest of maintaining friendly relations between user groups, you should always yield the trail to ATV’s. They are noisy, so its easy to hear them a ways off and find a good place to pull off. Give a friendly smile and a wave as they pass, or a coy nod if you prefer. It may be best to skip ATV trail sections at times when they are busy, such as weekend afternoons in the summer months.



Consider this ambitious, 620+ mile route as a ’template for adventure’. The route is intentionally indirect, even circuitous in order to find the most rustic roads and remote trails. As such, feel free to adapt the route to your needs, if you need an easy day take a short cut. If there’s a site you’d like to see that’s off route, go check it out!


There are several other bikepacking routes that you can connect to from the WABR, including the Northwoods Route, the Wisconsin Waterfalls Loop, the Tour De Chequamegon.



If You Go, Here's What You Need to Know:

Route Highlights

Must Know

Camping

Food

Water



Land Acknowledgement

It is important that we acknowledge that the land through which we travel on this route is the traditional territory of several Tribes of First People. Despite the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which drove these people from their ancestral homes, many indigenous communities have reestablished reservations and tribal lands within Wisconsin in general and, near and on this route specifically. These people continue to work to reclaim the homelands that were wrongfully taken from them to this day.


The route begins in land that was once home to the Potawatomi people. Around the time you cross the Wisconsin River you enter Ho Chunk territory.

Somewhere between the Wisconsin River and Viroqua, you will cross the path of the “British Band” a group about 1,100 people of the Sauk, Fox and Kickapoo tribes led by Black Hawk, who tried who attempted to peacefully resettle east of the Mississippi River in Illinois in 1832. They were relentlessly pursued and attacked by the U.S. Army and local militia. Attempting to retreat west, Black Hawk and his warriors defending the many civilians in their party at the Battle of Wisconsin Heights near present day Sauk City. They continued west, and managed to stay ahead of the pursuing army until, while attempting to escape back west across the Mississippi River, they were intercepted by a U.S. gunboat and then attacked from the rear by Army and militia forces at what is now called the Battle of Bad Axe. While the warriors attempted a defense, hundreds of non-combatant woman, children and elderly persons fled for their lives, and were murdered and scalped by U.S. forces.


On the north end of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve you will pass through current Ho Chunk Nation Trust Land. As you pass through the Black River State Forest you will be just east of the Ho Chunk Nation. Roughly north of Hwy 73 (Thorp) you enter the historic lands of the Ojibwe (aka Chippewa) People, which extend all the way to Gichigamiing (Lake Superior). Approaching Haward the route passes just north of the Lac Course Oreilles (Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa) Reservation. The route finishes at Point Detour which is on the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Reservation. Information Based on this map developed by Wisconsin First Nations Education.


Disclaimer: If you choose to ride this route, you do so at your own risk. You are 100% responsible for being prepared for all conditions and making sure that biking these routes is legal. Before riding, check local weather, road conditions, closures, and property ownership. Obey all traffic laws and follow land use restrictions. Do not ride these routes without proper safety equipment and navigational tools. The accuracy of these routes cannot be guaranteed neither can we guarantee that these routes are on public property. TheNxrth.com and its contributors are in no way liable for the personal injury or damage to property that may result from cycling this route or any other routes on this website.




1 Comment


Todd Reich
Todd Reich
Mar 27, 2023

To those that are thinking of doing this route. I live 4 miles from East Arbutus park in Jackson County (down a gravel road, no less) and am a member of warmshower.org so if you're tired of camping - want a bed or a shower, please shoot me a message on that forum. Always happy to host other cyclists!

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