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WAUSAU, WI
GRAVEL GUIDE

Wausau is best known for its art scene, Rib Mountain State Park with its legendary ski hill, and for the downtown whitewater kayaking on the Wisconsin River. In the cycling community it is known for its world class mountain biking with over 70 miles of singletrack, most of which is groomed in the winter, and for its unique red granite gravel roads.

Centrally located in the state, Wausau is the gateway to the Northwoods. A short ride out of the city will get you onto the red granite roads most recently made famous by IRONBULL’s Red Granite Grinder gravel/adventure race. The hills don’t stop with Rib Mountain. Just outside of Wausau to the west you will find hills made notorious from the Red Granite Grinder, the most famous and talked about being Billy Goat Hill. Any direction you decide to embark takes you into a different and unique riding experience. If you head northeast or northwest you will find yourself in the isolated areas of the Ackley Wildlife Preserve or the New Wood Forest.Heading west and you will be in farm country with its classic red barns and endless rolling gravel roads. If you are of the bikepacking type you can load up your bike, use any network of gravel roads, and in a little more than 50 miles from Wausau you will be at Jack Lake, the starting point of the Tour de Nicolet.
 

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Route Descriptions
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GravelMap

Where to Ride Gravel from Wausau, Wisconsin

Scotch Creek Graventure [22 miles]

Explore Edgar’s urban singletrack before breaking out onto red granite gravel roads. Return to Edgar using the old railroad grade. Use larger tires on this one to get the most enjoyment from the singletrack.
 

Rib Mountain Lap [36 miles]

Take the big loop around Rib Mountain on this route that is meant to be an introductory  route into the Wausau area. The route is primarily paved and uses a lot of bike paths in the town of Rib Mountain. If Nine Mile is open take some single track sections to add some spice to your route. Or finish strong with a ride up to the top of Rib Mountain. After your ride stop in at The Breakfast Bear for some of Wausau's best breakfast and brunch food.
 

AT-AT Walker Loop [42 miles]

One of my favorites to ride in the winter but can be ridden any time. Bounce between thick hardwood forests and small farms and hug the southern edge of the Ackley Wildlife area in the north. Ride surfaces are primarily smooth red granite with some pavement. 1,200’ of elevation makes this a relatively flat route. You’ll be lucky if you see a car on this ride.
 

IRONBULL Essential Gravel Grinder [44 miles]

This Eastern Marathon County gem of a route has it all. A couple small towns, a railroad museum, small lakes, and two rail trails. The route has very low elevation change on low traffic roads making it a great route for beginners. With the exception of the rail trails and few sections of gravel roads the route is on rural paved roads. Bring swimming shorts and jump in at the swimming beach at Norrie Lake to bring your experience up a level. The route starts and ends conveniently at the Ringle singletrack trail system making for a great opportunity to try out one of the area's premiere machine built singletrack systems.
 

The Maine Loop [48 miles]

Riders will enjoy beautiful red granite heading north. The route starts strong with a ride over the Billy Goat Hills in the opposite direction that the Red Granite Grinder goes. From there enjoy a cruise through some amazing red granite roads past historic churches and farms. Notable buildings on the route include The Little Red School House, Fromm Farms, and Willow Springs Round Barn. All three are a window to the past.
 

Ackley 60 [58 miles]

The route starts and ends at Sylvan Hill downhill mountain bike park. You can test your gravel bike skills on the pump track and skills course. Leaving town you will pass Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. Check this place out! Soon outside of town you'll find yourself on some great red granite gravel roads. But don't get too comfortable. The rugged two track Ackley exploration in the far north will spark your adventurous side. When you're finished stop in at 6th Street Filling Station or Red Eye Brewing for some great food.
 

New Wood Bush Bash [59 moiles]

An adventure ride not to be taken lightly with an impressive 93% gravel. This route explores the New Wood state land. Roads criss-cross the Ice Age Trail, which is a great opportunity to get some hiking in when you're not on the bike. One section of two track takes riders even deeper into the forest on the territory of a well established wolf pack and a creek crossing. With any luck Averill Creek can be crossed on the rocks but I dismount my bike and get my feet wet. This three mile firelane is a unique section on this route making it more of an adventure ride. The route includes the areas only Rustic Road,Tesch Road with its beautiful rock cut section. Gravel on this route is substantially chunkier than Marathon County red granite. No resupplies.


West Edgar [63 miles]

Starting in Edgar riders will travel through the western portion of Marathon county over fantastic red granite. Cherokee, March Rapids, and Big Rapids county parks are the highlighted scenic stops on the route. You will also travel the entire old railroad grade going through Fenwood and ending in Edgar. No resupplies on this route so bring what you need.
 

Big Poniatowski [83 miles]

Very distinct changes happen as you go from smooth farm country red granite into the very remote northwoods chunkier gravel. Punchy hills on remote twisting roads on the far north end in Taylor County are some of my favorites to ride. Take time to relax and wade in the cool water of the Rib River at Amco Park. As you get near the end of the route visit the 45x90 marker, which is exactly halfway between the equator and the north pole and a quarter of the way around the world from the prime meridian. You can also collect a commemorative token at the Wausau Chamber for visiting the marker! The route starts and ends in Athens. This town is such a gem so take time to peddle around and explore the two city parks. Erbach Park has some fantastic trails to explore by bike. If you’re into skiing they groom the trails and encourage fat bikers to ride them as long as they stay out of the ski groove lines. With the exception of Athens, no food resupplies but there are two well pumps on the route. The route would also make a fantastic overnight bikepacking trip with the one county campground on the north end.
 

Route Descriptions
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Lodging
Drinks
Food

Where to Stay

Jefferson Street Inn

A great place to stay if you want to be within walking distance to all of the amenities of downtown Wausau includiung The Grand Theatre, Politos Pizza, Malarkey’s and RedEye Brewing. It’s a favorite place to stay for the Red Granite Grinder racers.

 

Hilton Garden Inn

Close to everything in Rib Mountain, this is a great location and place to stay.

 

Marathon Park Campground

Urban camping close to everything in the city.

 

Big Eau Pleine County Park

Very large county campground. Mountain bike trails in the park and gravel roads a couple miles outside of the park.

 

Where to Grab Coffee

Edgar Grind

A great place outside of Wausau to grab coffee or something sweet. On the West Edgar route.

Delightfully Dished With Emma Kait's Coffeehaus

Small town coffee shop just off the Essential Gravel route. They also serve some breakfast items.

The Pickle Jar

Nice outdoor area to relax and enjoy a cup


Where to Grab Drinks in the Evening

Red Eye Brewing

Popular hangout for cyclists with a great rotating selection of beers

Timekeeper Distillery

Old 1901 train depot restored into a distillery. Amazing piece of Wausau’s history

Sconni’s Alehouse and Eatery

48 beers on tap you’ll find something. A great outdoor area to relax 

 

Tine and Cellar

Over 100 beers on tap. Modern atmosphere.


Where to Eat

La Tequeria

A favorite in Wausau for fantastic burritos with a great outdoor area

RedEye Brewing

Amazing food selection and a favorite hangout for cyclists.They are also a huge supporter of cycling 

 

Breakfast Bear

A great place to stop for breakfast or brunch. They are Wausau area's newest place and feature a modern menu and you won’t leave hungry.

Wausau Mine Company

Amazing pizza piled high, very high, with cheese. Very unique atmosphere.

Sconni’s Alehouse and Eatery

Relaxing Atmosphere with a great menu. Outdoor area may be Wausau area’s best.

Tine and Cellar

Modern atmosphere with a great menu. Truffle fries are a favorite.

Malarkey’s Pub

Great place on the 400 block, the start and finish of the Red Granite Grinder.
 

Bike Shops

Rib Mountain Cycle

Wausau areas Specialized and Rocky Mountain Dealer. The staff has a good amount of knowledge to help you get on your way 

Builer’s Cycle and Fitness

Wausau’s oldest shop that’s been there since 1926. They have a good inventory of parts and sell Giant and Cannondale bikes.

Trek Store Wausau

They always have a really good supply of Treks in stock and are always helpful in getting you back up and going.

 

Off the Bike

Kayaking

Kayak the many rivers including the Wisconsin River, Rib River, and Eau Claire River.  Or choose one of the many lakes 

Art Scene

Leigh Yawkey Art museum in downtown Wausau is a must. Art in the Park is an event the second weekend in September in Wausau. The Walls of Wittenberg are some interesting murals that are worth checking out

 

Skiing

Downhill skiing is a big deal in Wausau. If you are into cross country check out Erbach Park, Nine Mile, or Underdown Recreation Area

Hiking

A big draw to the Wausau area is hiking on the Ice Age Trail. The area has some epic segments including the Ringle Segment, Averill-Kelly Creek Segment, Eau Claire Dells, Plover River Segment, and Underdown Segment.
 

Coffee
Bike Shops
Off the Bike
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