Hello all. My girlfriend and I are planning a multi-day fully loaded trip around Wisconsin and are hoping you folks could help answer a couple questions for us.
Here's a rough idea on the route: http://goo.gl/maps/QSFsO
1) I know that many of the trails are limestone but are they really that rough? We both ride Surly LHT's with 700c. I've heard some people say that they were nearly unridable and am starting to get a little nervous.
2) Do they allow camping in NON-designated areas or do we have to stay in a campgrounds?
I appreciate any help that you all could give. Thanks in advance!
1. The limestone WI trails I've encountered are doable as long as you're on 28c or bigger. 25c or smaller would be passable but more of a struggle especially being loaded. There are some rotten granite trails in the state. Those would not be doable on anything less than a hybrid. But most of those tend to be in the northern counties. I hope you have your climbing legs ready, because the Dodgeville area is quite hilly, but beautiful.
2. I researched many of Wisconsin's counties several years ago to discover which, if any, counties permitted camping.
I pasted the original file into a google doc if you're interested. Some of the data did not transfer verbatim. The tabs are not labeled in the google version. And the last tab/sheet has/had a map of the state with the counties outlined and named. Stupid google. Oh well, it is free. If you like, I could email it to you. I originally did it in Excel but have since went to a Mac. I now have it in an Open Office file. A few of the links are broken, but most of the useful stuff remains.
Good luck to you and your SO. Oh, and you will be in brewery country. So stop in at the Joseph Huber Brewery in Monroe, Ale Asylum in Madison, New Glarus Brewery (~15-20mi north of Monroe), et al....if you like great beer that is.
Thanks a lot, Skijor! That spreadsheet will be a TON of help. We're running 700x37's so it should'nt be too horrible then. We have a week off so we're planning to take our time and check out all the local sites, most definitely including the breweries. 2 weeks ago we rode a century to a nearby brewery and it was a blast, except for the 20 miles of unexpected gravel (hence my concern over the WI trails). If we keep it to around 40 mile days it shouldnt be an issue though.
We're ready for an adventure but I just want to make sure that the GF is happy as well. If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!
I know the top half of the trail from Monroe to Dodgeville is fantastic but you might find a couple of soft spots coming out of Monroe. Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe has a great tour. You’ll be able to sip samples and leave stocked with complimentary gifts. They also have a distillery tours. New Glarus used to have a small winery as well. I left a little buzzed trying all their wines. Mount Horeb is a good place to stop and the Grumpy Troll is a popular bicycle rest and refresh stop.
Thanks for the help guys.
Just as a heads up to anyone else riding this area, the trails from Platteville to Monroe and from Mineral Point back to Platteville are all ATV trails now with very rough and thick gravel. The only way that I would suggest riding that route is if you're on a mountain bike with wide tires or a fat bike. It was pure torture on my Surly LHT and we both dumped them a few times in the process. Average speed dropped to 4mph...seriously. After riding the Platteville>Wiota stretch, we decided it would be safer to take county roads.
New Glarus has an excellent brewery too. There is a tunnel (2?) up by there on one of the trails, and they're not kidding when they recommend walking through, bringing a light and being prepared for cooler temperatures in the tunnels.
I would limit your travel to paths that exclude motorized vehicles. Other cyclist have told me that the popularity of motorized ATV on the paths that allow them create very unsafe conditions for cyclists.
I've taken parts of the Route from Madison to Dodgeville to Mineral Point. The path is a rails to trail route. The quality of the surface is mostly very good, you LHT should have no problems. While the area is very hilly, that trail is not difficult.