Author Topic: Across Wisconsin- LaCrosse to Milwaukee  (Read 3811 times)

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Offline Turk

Across Wisconsin- LaCrosse to Milwaukee
« on: April 11, 2010, 05:29:44 pm »
I'm hoping to bike from LaCrosse, Wi (or Winona, mn) to Milwaukee the week of the 4th of July. Is it possible to do it entirely on bicycle trails? What's the best way? Are the trails OK for road bikes? What are the names of the trails to go on?

Offline windrath

Re: Across Wisconsin- LaCrosse to Milwaukee
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2010, 07:42:44 pm »
Hi Turk -

You can ride most of the way from Lacrosse to Milwaukee on trails.  I rode that route in 2005 and found it much easier to ride roads around Madison.  From Winona, you will want to cross over to the Wisconsin side until you connection with the trails in Wisconsin.

The trails are ok for riding, but not super fast - very few miles are paved, some are pretty hard packed dirt, some are softer.  Much better than trying to ride on the roads though as the trails avoid the ups and downs of the hills on the highways.  Google Bicycle trails in WIsconsin and you will ahve a variety of routes to work from - http://www.wisconline.com/attractions/biketrails.html#400.

You pick up the first trail in Lacrosse, then next one in Sparta, etc..  The last section, you pick up south of Madison.

My ride from Red Wing to Milwaukee took 5 days - about 350-360 miles.  From Lacrosse, the ride should take 4 days.  Camping areas can be tricky if you are planning to do that.

Good Luck.



Good Luck

Offline Turk

Re: Across Wisconsin- LaCrosse to Milwaukee
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2010, 08:24:50 pm »
Thanks.

We'll probably stay in motels along the way. I did some of this in the '70's when there were only 60 or so miles of trails. I went to college in Madison and grew up in Milwaukee so I'm familiar with the area. The part I'm a little worried about is Reedsburg to Cottage Grove just east of Madison. We'll have to take mostly roads through that part but it should be OK. We can go through Sauk City or across the Merrimac Ferry and through Devils Lake State Park, which could be fun. I know it's hilly around there, though.

Offline jimbo

Re: Across Wisconsin- LaCrosse to Milwaukee
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2010, 10:18:38 pm »
Hi Turk...I took a bike trail from LaCrosse to Sparta and then the Sparta-Elroy rail trail which goes thru 3 tunnels. They are a blast.  I assume it continues on to Madison..we left it at Elroy to get to Manitowac.  You should have a nice ride.  We rode in the tunnels as we were alone. ( you need some illumination)

Offline DeMayonnaise

Re: Across Wisconsin- LaCrosse to Milwaukee
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2010, 10:58:34 pm »
I biked from Madison to near St. Paul MN 2 summers ago, taking the same route from LaCrosse to Madison.

It's a great ride...there are 4 different trails which connect together to create one bike trail: http://www.bike4trails.com/

Once you get to Reedsburg it isn't that bad to take county roads to get yourself to Madison. I looked at the Wisconsin County bike maps website ( http://www.dot.wisconsin.gov/travel/bike-foot/countymaps.htm ) and found some roads that worked out well. Your idea of biking to Devil's Lake and taking the ferry is what I did. It worked well. I biked through Lodi and then Middleton on my way to Madison. Once you're in Madison you can take the Glacial Drumlin Trail ( http://www.glacialdrumlin.com/Home.html ) to Waukesha. From there I guess you're on your own to your final destination in Milwaukee.

Offline Turk

Re: Across Wisconsin- LaCrosse to Milwaukee
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2010, 10:01:15 pm »
Thanks for the info. I'm slowly laying out the trip. I think we'll go from St. Paul to Milw via LaCrosse. There's more than enough time to do it in one week at 60 mi per day. We'll probably stay overnight in Red Wing, Winona, Reedsburg, Madison, and a couple of days in Milw, returning by train. We'll probably follow more or less the Northern Tier from the Twin Cities to Winona, buying the map from Adventure Cycle, though it looks like there's a nice route south from St. Paul to Red Wing, intersecting the Cannon Valley Trail at Welch Village. The Google Map tool has helped, though it doesn't recognize that you can use the ferry at Merrimac, Wi to cross the Wisconsin River. In Milwaukee we'll take the Interurban trail north to Port Washington and Cedarburg for a day trip. We have one extra day. I'm thinking we should do something different that day or save it in case of rain. I'm not sure when to schedule it--early or late in the trip. I'd like to take an extra day in Milwaukee and look up some old friends or relatives.

Offline windrath

Re: Across Wisconsin- LaCrosse to Milwaukee
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2010, 08:26:50 pm »
Turk -

I lived in Red Wing for 20 years.  Getting from St. Paul to Red Wing is a llittle tricky if you need to stay off of major highways.  Once you find your way to the Cannon Valley Trail it is pretty easy. BUT, getting to the Cannon valley Trail is the tough part.  There are not many places to camp in Red Wing.  From Red Wing to Winona is all major road with good shoulder and alot of traffic (on the Minnesota Side of the Mississsippi River).  If you go to Wisconsin side, the hills are bigger and the traffic is less. 

If you are comfortable with traffic, I can give you the best roads if you tell me where, in St Paul, you are starting.

paul

Offline Turk

Re: Across Wisconsin- LaCrosse to Milwaukee
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2010, 02:14:24 pm »
I live on the east side of St. Paul not far from Lower Afton and Hwy 61. We hope to ride on side streets between 61 and the river down to Hastings. I'm familiar with that area. Beyond Hastings I'm unfamiliar but Google recommended a way that intersected with the Cannon Valley Trail at Welch. I was hoping to follow the Northern Tier trail from there to Winona, hoping the traffic wouldn't be bad. But if it's on 61 the whole way we might choose a different way. We're staying in motels along the way. I'm looking to maximize time on trails and minimize exposure to traffic and hills. What if we started out in Preston, Mn and utilized the trails down there?

There's a trail on the Wisconsin side now that goes from east of Winona to LaCrosse.

Offline windrath

Re: Across Wisconsin- LaCrosse to Milwaukee
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2010, 10:11:34 pm »
Turk -

You can find side roads from east St. Paul to Hastings.  At Hastings you will have to cross the Mississippi River on the Hwy 61 bridge.  After that, if you want to ride on the Cannon Valley Trail, you will have to ride on Hwy 61 south.  The shoulder is ok now, but it is busy.  I would actually recommend a left turn in Hastings onto pretty good roads that take you to Treasure Island Casino and then onto Red Wing.  You will connect again with Hwy 61 about 6 miles outside of Red Wing - it will be busy from there on.

The Northern Tier Trail is not trails - they are highways from Red Wing to LaCrosse.  Hwy 61 on the Minnesota side is wide shoulders and places to stay in Red Wing, Lake City, and Winona.  Hwy 35 on the Wisconsin side has a nice shoulder, fewer places to stay and less traffic.  After Red Wing, you will want to cross the Mississippli at either Wabasha or Winona.  Neither is great.  To find out where the Wisconsin 400 trails are in LaCrosse, google LaCrosse River Trail.

If you decide to ride the Cannon Valley Trail, be aware that it is only for 10 miles between Welch and Red Wing (unless you go way out of your way to start in Cannon Falls.

Sorry I don't have better news for you.Post reply
   

Offline Turk

Re: Across Wisconsin- LaCrosse to Milwaukee
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2010, 03:19:17 pm »
I think we'll travel down to Hastings/Red Wing and give it a try. That's probably the best way.

Offline joan and darren

Re: Across Wisconsin- LaCrosse to Milwaukee
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2010, 10:53:31 pm »
The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin has wonderful bike maps.  (a series of 4 that are very reasonable in cost).  The maps show all of the bike trails, paved, and gravel roads in the state.  Some of the trails you would bike on are: Elroy-Sparta trail, the La Crosse River Trails, the 400 trail, Glacier-Drumlin trail.  I would strongly recommend getting the southern two maps.  Have a fun trip.  Our friends rode lots of those trails last summer on their road bikes, and said they worked just fine - altho most of the trails are crushed lime stone.

Offline Turk

Re: Across Wisconsin- LaCrosse to Milwaukee
« Reply #11 on: May 17, 2010, 10:21:23 pm »
I drove down to Hastings/Prescott to check out routes to Red Wing. I think for us 316 in Minnisota through Welch and onto the Cannon River trail will work the best. It looks like new road with a wide shoulder and not too much traffic. Google bicycle maps suggested this route. I also found a way through Hastings off of Hwy 61, which was part of a route on Google Map My Ride. So Google has been helpful.

I bought the Adventure Cycling Association map for the Northern Tier from the Twin Cities to Muscatine. We'll follow that from Red Wing to Winona. A good portion of that is off of Highway 61.

The Adventure Cycling route to Red Wing looked nice but I like 316 better.

From Winona of course we'll be mostly on trails to Milwaukee.