Saturday, August 31, 2013

Biking Wisconsin's Tomorrow River State Trail

Wisconsin's Tomorrow River State Trail runs for nearly 30 miles, from Plover to Manawa, passing through Amherst Junction, Ogdensburg, and Scandanavia.  The trail is crushed limestone and was in such good condition that road bikes could use it.  A sign warned that the trail was closed when aerial spraying of crops was occurring, and the trail does pass many fields.

I began in Plover, parking in the Copps parking lot at the corner of Highway B and Hoover Avenue.  The trail starts behind Copps, just over the railroad tracks. Exit I-39 at Highway B and take it west to Hoover Avenue. Other trail parking is available at Twin Towers Road, Custer Road, Lake Emily County Park, and Highway Q in Amherst Junction.  I biked 28 miles, but only the Portage County sections.  The remainder of the trail is in Waupaca County.  A Wisconsin pass is required which can be bought at any trailhead for $4 a day, or an annual pass for $20.  Below is a map of the Portage County portion (click to enlarge.)

The first couple miles has a railroad spur alongside the trail which serves industrial concerns such as R. R. Donnelley and Del Monte factories. The spur track ends and you find yourself biking through rolling Wisconsin hillsides with meadows and crops on either side.  As with most rail-trails, many mature trees edge the trail, often obscuring views of the fields.  A lot of irrigating was occurring as I biked, as seen off to the right in this photo.

Horses are allowed east from Twin Towers Road, but they are not allowed on the limestone trail.  They have their own mown path alongside the trail.

 Much of the trail is very scenic as seen below, and the opportunities to see the neighboring fields and crops and farm structures adds more interest to the ride.

I biked east the 11 miles to Amherst Junction where the trail is missing a segment for 1 mile, after which it continues to Manawa.  Then I continued biking the detour around the missing section: at Highway Q in Amherst Junction, turn left, at the next road turn right onto Highway KK, bike under the underpass, at the next road turn left onto School Road, take it to Alm Road and turn left, and the trail is soon on your right.  But the route is well marked with large brown signs pointing the way to “Tomorrow River Trail” so navigating the detour is not a problem.

After reaching the eastern segment of the trail, I biked until I reached the river.  I’d hoped that the trail would parallel the Tomorrow River, but instead it simply crosses the river on that eastern segment near Amherst Junction.  One of the two railroads that ran through town was named the Tomorrow River Railroad, and its roadbed is the one the trail runs on, and hence the name.  But here’s the namesake river the trail crosses over...

You regularly see speed limit signs of 55 mph, which seem out of place until you remember that snowmobiles use the trail in the winter.

Every mile you’ll see very small brown signs for Tomorrow River State Trail, and beneath giving the mileage in even smaller lettering.

No comments: