Friday, May 25, 2012

Biking Wisconsin's White River State Trail

The White River State Trail is another of Wisconsin's fine bike trails.  Being part of the state park system, there is a daily fee of $4 (or $20 annual pass) to use the trail, which is operated by Walworth County on an old Soo railroad line build from 1858 to 1875 as the first railroad to connect Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River.  The trail opened in 2003, with much of its success due to the White River Cycle Club which supported its development.

The western terminus is at Highway H near Elkhorn, just 5 miles from Lake Geneva, and the eastern end is at Spring Valley Road just west of Burlington, for a total length of about 12 miles. Trail parking is also available at County Highway NN, route 120 in Springfield, and Mill Street in Lyons. ( Click on the map to enlarge.)

I began at Springfield in the lot alongside this restored train depot that was built in 1911.  Today it is Bike and Cup where you can take care of your refreshment needs or you bike's needs.  I headed east first, then returned and continued to the western end and then back again for a 24 mile ride.  Food and drink are also available as you ride through Lyons near the eastern end.

Much of the route traverses rural countryside with occasional views of lovely farms...

Most of the trail is lined by mature trees and shrubs, giving you a green tunnel to pass through and hence some protection from wind and hot sun, but there are also many open areas giving you opportunities to view vistas of lush surroundings.  The trail also crosses several creeks as well as the namesake White River seen here...

Just a mile from the eastern trailhead, a side trail takes you to this interesting old bridge...

Rest benches are located along the trail, many courtesy of the White River Cycle Club.  Between miles 3 and 5 from the western end, you pedal a long, gradual downhill, often with 30+ foot drop-offs on one or both sides.  Along this stretch are two benches, one facing north and one south, so you have your choice of scenery to admire.  Most of the trail undulates over gentle rolling slopes, and much of the trail is straight as an arrow.  Mile posts every mile and mileage signs at road crossings announce your progress as you proceed. The trail is crushed gravel and is mostly in good condition with only a few rough patches.

No comments: