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Old 02-23-06, 02:33 PM   #1
kalfunkski
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Taking the Scenic Route from Minneapolis to Milwaukee

Hello everyone!

My name is Ben and I just joined bikeforums.net today. I'm hoping that someone has had experience biking around the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and in Western Wisconsin because I'm hoping to make the journey from the Twin Cities back to my hometown of Milwaukee this summer. I'd rather not ride on the shoulder of state/county highways the whole time so I'm looking for tips on scenic routes or trails that will get me to Milwaukee in a decent time (I'm hoping 2 days with an overnight stay somewhere in Wisconsin). Feel free to e-mail with any advice, thanks a ton!
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Old 02-23-06, 05:16 PM   #2
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From north of LaCrosse you can go al most all the way to Milwaukee on rail trails. They have finished a lot more than when I did it more than 10 years ago - the Elroy Sparta was the first one. Great little towns along the way - no traffic - plenty of spots to camp.

http://www.elroy-sparta-trail.com/

Then use the map to connect to other trails.

Best - J
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Old 02-23-06, 05:28 PM   #3
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Everything you need to plan the route:
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/sti/bikemaps.html
http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/...t/statemap.htm
http://www.bfw.org/projects/index.php
http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/...countymaps.htm
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Old 02-23-06, 10:02 PM   #4
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If you can or do find your way to Menomonie Wi. you may want to get on The Red Cedar Trail you will need to get a pass good for all state trails. This trail connects to the Chippewa river state trail and takes you into Eau Claire or you can turn off and go to Durand where the trails junction. The Red Cedar to Chippewa trail route is about 35 miles or so. I have been able to get a good cell signal pretty much all the way just in case. Now If you can figure out how to connect to La crosse ? Good Luck hope this helps! feel free to pm me if need to know more.
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Old 02-24-06, 08:04 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bbwolfy
If you can or do find your way to Menomonie Wi. you may want to get on The Red Cedar Trail you will need to get a pass good for all state trails. This trail connects to the Chippewa river state trail and takes you into Eau Claire or you can turn off and go to Durand where the trails junction.
Unfortunately, taking the Chippewa River trail to Eau Claire would be taking you North, rather than South towards Millwaukee.
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Old 02-25-06, 12:31 PM   #6
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Go to crazyguyonabike.com and search "Wisconsin". There is a good deal if information out there with plenty of route information. I'm planning on doing LaCrosse to Milwaukee or Chicago this summer after first doing my first ever overnight "tour" earlier in the spring to try touring. I'm sure I'll like it. No fancy gear or bike, but you don't need all that much to get started....
Gary
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Old 02-26-06, 07:41 AM   #7
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The State of Wisconsin publishes or used to publish a road map style map of all bike trails and prefered bike routes on secondary roads in the state. This is a two map edition, one for the west and one for the east. I think I got mine in 1996 at the Milwaukee Bike Expo, and I think I have seen them around since them. My map says it is published by the Wisconsin Division of Tourism so you may want to do a web search of them.
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Old 02-26-06, 07:47 AM   #8
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Actually, now that I have read the other posts more carefully I see that Half Speed has you covered on this.
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Old 04-09-06, 07:26 AM   #9
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I rode from Minneapolis to suburban Chicago in 2004, and followed State Highway 35 down to LaCrosse, then the LaCrosse river trail, the Elroy/Sparta Trail, and should have taken the 400 trail. That part of Wisconsin is very hilly, as it is part of the area where the glaciers did not smooth things out. The trails can get boring, but the alternative is painful.

Highway 35 was actually very enjoyable. There are some elevation changes, but nothing too intense. You usually had a nice view of the river, and towns to eat in and take a break. Check out this site:

http://www.wigreatriverroad.org/maps/maps_bike.htm

Also, pick up maps from Milwaukee Map Service. They publish four very good regional maps, which include all the county roads for Wisconsin.

Enjoy!

Jay

P.S. You'll never make it in 2 days. I took a week to Chicago (420 miles)

Last edited by jjones; 04-09-06 at 07:29 AM. Reason: P.S.
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Old 04-09-06, 05:25 PM   #10
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jjones, that is exactly the route I am planning, only coming from IL towards St Paul. the 400 ends in Reedsburg. I plan on going through Madison and stay at state parks along the way. Should be great!
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Old 04-11-06, 03:27 PM   #11
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Starting around the 18th of June, the Bike NOrth Woods tour bikenorthwoods sets off from LaCrosse to Sheboygan
of course, it will cost you a couple hunnert bucks, but they will haul your gear and the smallish group (200+) is a great bunch of folks.

Otherwise, working your way down from north of lacrosse on the bike trails is an awesome idea. You can move along almost to Madison on trails, then on the Glacial Drumlin from the east side of madison.

Otherwise use some of the links. there are thousands of easy to ride, little travelled country trunks, all paved.
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Old 05-17-06, 03:51 PM   #12
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I'm planning this trip as well. Here's my plan:
~450 mi, 5 days, light-loaded (no camping gear) touring. I have family to crash with in every town but Sparta, where i hope to get a hotel room, i guess.

June 30: Minneapolis -> Eau Claire
July 1: Eau Claire -> Marshland -> via trail to Sparta
July 2: Sparta via trail -> Reedsburg -> Madison
July 3: Madison -> Milwaukee
July 4: Milwaukee -> Chicago

Specific routing tips are welcomed!
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Old 05-17-06, 05:24 PM   #13
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I used to live in Menomonie, WI and rode that Red Cedar trail regularly..... I would not reccomend it for touring, its recreational in nature. Too soft for real riding....

I would reccomend riding south on MN highway 62 or whatever that is that follows the Mississippi towards Winona. Adventure Cycling uses that route on one of their cross-country routes I think. Or they did once......

Then cut yourself over to LaCrosse, hook up with Elroy-Sparta, and enjoy the Wisconsin countryside there. You will be able to find yourself accross Wisconsin with no trouble staying off major highways. Lots of farm roads all over with little traffic.
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Old 05-18-06, 07:53 AM   #14
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next question:
I don't know the terrain very well... is it real hilly?

I usually ride fixed. If I'm doing this route, would you all suggest fixed/singlespeed, or gears?? (i.e. how many hills and how big?)
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Old 05-18-06, 09:53 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chimblysweep
next question:
I don't know the terrain very well... is it real hilly?

I usually ride fixed. If I'm doing this route, would you all suggest fixed/singlespeed, or gears?? (i.e. how many hills and how big?)
South of Menomonie/Eau Claire down to Iowa is hilly, everywhere else is pretty flat. If you're strong, you could do it.

Hit me up when you're in the area, I'll buy you a beer.
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Old 05-18-06, 03:37 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velotimbe
I used to live in Menomonie, WI and rode that Red Cedar trail regularly..... I would not reccomend it for touring, its recreational in nature. Too soft for real riding....

I would reccomend riding south on MN highway 62 or whatever that is that follows the Mississippi towards Winona. Adventure Cycling uses that route on one of their cross-country routes I think. Or they did once......

Then cut yourself over to LaCrosse, hook up with Elroy-Sparta, and enjoy the Wisconsin countryside there. You will be able to find yourself accross Wisconsin with no trouble staying off major highways. Lots of farm roads all over with little traffic.

62 in Minn is a good ride! You'll find hills near the Mississippi or Wisconsin rivers otherwise rolling hills which might need gears. Or as a friend from Colorado said of the hills along the Mississippi, nice roller coaster (in other words small)!
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Old 05-18-06, 05:36 PM   #17
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It's US 61. MN 62 is the Crosstown Freeway, which I suggest avoiding.
Rather than 61 I'd suggest that you take Wisconsin 35 on the east bank, going south from Prescott,Wi. That road is MUCH more bicycle friendly with less traffic, frequent turn-outs, wide shoulders, better visibility, and fewer cross streets/entrances.
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Old 05-18-06, 06:12 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by CastIron
It's US 61. MN 62 is the Crosstown Freeway, which I suggest avoiding.
Rather than 61 I'd suggest that you take Wisconsin 35 on the east bank, going south from Prescott,Wi. That road is MUCH more bicycle friendly with less traffic, frequent turn-outs, wide shoulders, better visibility, and fewer cross streets/entrances.
Plus, 35 has great colorful maps with elevation profiles. Outside of the climb near Bay City, it's mostly flat too.

http://www.wigreatriverroad.org/maps/maps_bike.htm

And here's what it looks like on 35:
http://stockdell.org/biking/grrb_tour/index.html
http://stockdell.org/biking/grrb/index.html
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Old 05-18-06, 10:10 PM   #19
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Try following the Mississippi south to LaCrossish. I love riding that on the Wisconsin side.
The state of WI has very good bike maps which have been linked to above. They're why i nearly always ride in WI rather than MN
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Old 06-15-06, 05:19 PM   #20
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ok, time for some more specific routing questions...
how do you get from Minneapolis to the I-94 bridge? It says there's a bike lane on the bridge... I'd like to go through Hudson and pick up N Eastbound to Eau Claire. (Gotta visit my grandma in E.C.)
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Old 06-15-06, 05:50 PM   #21
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also, any tips for approaching Milwaukee from the West? i was going to take the glacier drumlin trail...
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Old 06-15-06, 06:56 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chimblysweep
ok, time for some more specific routing questions...
how do you get from Minneapolis to the I-94 bridge? It says there's a bike lane on the bridge... I'd like to go through Hudson and pick up N Eastbound to Eau Claire. (Gotta visit my grandma in E.C.)
There is a bike lane across the bridge. There are roads marked as bike routes on the MN side. I have ridden into Woodbury on them from WI. I believe MN has bike maps on their DOT website, also. Or else they mail 'em to you.

I am leaving from River Falls tomorrow, June 16. I will be following WI 35 until I hit the bike trails in Trempaleau county. 100 miles when ridden from the beginning there to the end at Reedsberg. I then used mapquest and had a route that avoided highways from Reedsberg to Illinois with my stops at state parks thrown in. I then emailed them to me and printed out, custom cue sheets!
Good pedalling to you and have a great trip.
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Old 06-16-06, 09:06 AM   #23
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aha! thanks. i ordered the Wisconsin Bicycle Maps, which will get me through the state, but i first have to get to wisconsin!
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Old 06-16-06, 10:37 AM   #24
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I'm going to give you a bunch of unsolicited route advice.

If I were to do this ride I'd use the elory-sparta trial system all the way to reedsberg.
From here I'd take roads down to Cottage Grove, and I'd skip Madison (traffic) unless you specifically want to include it. I'd go through Baraboo, then to Devils Lake state park, then take the Merrimac ferry, through Lodi, Dane, Deforest and then south through Sun Prairie to Cottage Grove.

If you get to the Glacial Drumlin Trail (GDT) and want to get off the crushed limestone you can take roads that are fairly light traffic and pretty flat:

take county road BB out of Cottage Grove
Becomes B
When you Get to Cnty Road F (After Johnson Creek) go straight onto Concord Center Dr.
Follow this until it dead ends, then go right on Cnty road DR (aka Delafield rd)
Then take a right onto Golden lake Rd
left at Gennesy lake rd
right at Cnty Z (AKA Dousman Rd)
Follow the fork to the left and go left on US 18 for about .1 miles (there is a shoulder)
Turn Right on Main street and follow it until you get to the GDT. Its paved from here to Waukesha.

I've ridden both the GDT and the route above many times and find that the road route is about an hour faster, but not that scenic.

I don't have any real advice for getting from Waukesha into Milwaukee other than to say the New Berlin Trail sucks. It's gravel and feels more like a power line access road. Getting to Greenfield park isn't bad, but my destination is always West Allis so you are on your own from there.

The GDT ends at the intersection of College and Praire ave. Make your way through Waukesha (I use College Ave to E Racine to S. Porter Ave to E. Broadway but there are places where college doesn't feel that comfortable) until you get to E Broadway. Follow this until it becomes Cleavleand Ave and then go N on 124th and you will be at Greenfield Park. You can do the Oak leaf trail or use a route you already know from there.

Have a good trip and sorry for all the detail.
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Old 06-16-06, 11:54 AM   #25
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no, thank you! detail is what i need. i didn't even know the GDT was gravel... I'm on 700x23's and can't really swing it.
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