I have been looking to ride the great river trail just above La Crosse back down to Milwaukee. I noticed certain sections are paved most of the way. I plan on doing the ride with my road bike , which runs 28mm tires . My route as of now is great river, la crosse , elroy sparta, 400 trail through madison on to the Dousman trail down into Milwaukee. My only real concern is the surface for this size tire on the trails. I plan on doing it in late July so I figure the trail should not be to moist from rain. I am giving myself 4 days to ride the 242 miles or so it is, 60 a day with 11mph average want to enjoy the ride not race it . I haven't decided if I want to camp along the way yet or CC it at motels, I sited a few camp sites along the ride but haven't commited tot hem yet. This is my first extended trip also, I was going to do Ragbrai but figured for the money why not enjoy my own states trail system and blow it on the bar's on way back home
Both the Elroy-Sparta and the 400 should be fine for your bike, from personal experience riding them in summer. The surface is hard, packed gravel and while not as smooth as pavement, I've never had any problems with my road bike (25mm tires). I tried the Glacial Drumlin west of Dousman, however, and it is not nearly maintained as well. If this works out for you, post a report, I know I am not the only rider curious about the Great River Trail.
I personally ride on a Trek 7.5 fx hybrid with 32mm tires and find this perfect for these trails. The '4 Trails' are all dry, limestone trails, not paved and move relatively fast. The Glacial Drumlin is the same, but last season was not in as good a shape as the '4 Trails' The only paved part of the Glacial Drumlin trail is from Dousman to Waukesha.
Ive talked to people on road bikes with 28mm tires and they are fine for these trails once they are groomed (usually sometime between mid April and May)
The Great River trail is a wonderful site and i cant wait to get back there this summer, if you have any other questions let me know.
Last edited by jimbojonez; 03-28-12 at 03:14 PM.