Wisconsin is truly a world-class destination for those who love a good bike ride, whether they’re just off training wheels or on their way to the Tour de France. It isn’t an accident that we’ve come to be known for biking. It’s actually tied to our unique history as the dairy state.
Many of our state’s first rural roads were paved early to make it less likely for the glass milk bottles to break in transit. Now, these hilly and winding country roads make for some of the most tranquil and scenic road biking routes one can find. How Wisconsin is that?
Wisconsin was also one of the first states in the country to convert a railroad bed into a bicycle trail, offering miles of smooth and level riding. And, of course, riders can experience our gorgeous outdoor landscape from north to south on thousands of miles of great off-road bike trails.
With our beautifully diverse landscape perfect for biking, it’s no coincidence Wisconsin is home to so many bicycle and bike accessory brands, including Trek, Pacific Cycle, Saris, Planet Bike, and more. Being able to get outside and use the products that are being designed and manufactured right in their backyard keeps employees passion filled and businesses competitive in the long term.
So with a newfound appreciation for Wisconsin as a biking destination, pump up the tires and strap on your helmet—here are some hidden gems to explore from the seat of a trusty bicycle.
WEST BEND: EISENBAHN TRAIL
Named after the German word for railroad, the Eisenbahn Trail is a perfect example of Wisconsin’s many rail-to-trail networks. This 25-mile trail extends from the historic city of West Bend into the scenic countryside of eastern Wisconsin past the glacial landscape of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. It truly offers something for everyone, including community parks; bucolic farm views; a main street area in Campbellsport; and the 136-acre Lac Lawrann Conservancy in West Bend, which has recorded sightings of more than 200 bird species.
After a day on the trail, enjoy dinner in West Bend at the rustic and lively Timmer’s Resort. This beautiful lodge boasts cozy fireplaces in each dining room, as well as beautiful views of Big Cedar Lake that you can enjoy from the dining room, on the patio, or around a firepit.
For a great night’s rest, check out the Hidden Serenity Bed and Breakfast. Tucked in the woods, this charming bed and breakfast offers cozy beds, a delicious breakfast, and even has a tennis court and some walking trails on the property. Check out their Kettle Moraine Suite and soak your tired muscles in the two-person jacuzzi.
DANE, WAUKESHA, AND JEFFERSON COUNTIES: GLACIAL DRUMLIN TRAIL
If you’re like me and believe that geology rocks, you know how fun it can be to explore Wisconsin’s unique geological features from the seat of a bike—like the drumlins along the Glacial Drumlin Trail. A drumlin is an elongated, teardrop-shaped hill of rock, sand, and gravel that formed under moving glacier ice. The 52-mile-long trail runs between Cottage Grove and the Fox River Sanctuary in Waukesha, with easy connections to Madison and Milwaukee.
If you want a place to stop off the trail, Oconomowoc is the perfect city to take a break and grab a bite. The Crafty Cow is a great family-owned and -operated restaurant where you can reward yourself with a Juicy Lucy style burger (two patties with melted cheese in the middle) and a craft beer. You’ll need a good night’s sleep after all that, so why not a luxury bed and breakfast? The Inn at Pine Terrace is housed in a beautiful mansion built in 1879 with a unique and luxurious lodging and dining experience, perfect after a long day in the fresh air.
MILWAUKEE: BEERLINE TRAIL
When you think of activities in Milwaukee, biking may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s such a fantastic way to enjoy the city. Make sure to check out the Beerline Trail, located near the area where all of Milwaukee’s first breweries were built. The trail runs alongside the Milwaukee River, so your bike ride will include both fantastic riverside and city skyline views. Plus, if you don’t want to bring your own bike, you can rent Bublr Bikes from stations all over the city, including one located on East North Avenue right next to the Beerline. Standard and electric bikes are available, and I love that the electric bikes can help make a bike ride more accessible for anyone who would benefit from a little assist while they pedal.
Of course, you’ll want to honor the namesake of the trail with a great local brew at Stubby’s Gastrogrub & Beer Bar at the southern end of the Beerline, which offers elevated pub food. Immerse yourself in more Milwaukee beer history when you check in at the Brewhouse Inn & Suites, a boutique hotel housed in the original Pabst Brewery.
LANGLADE: WOLF RIVER TRAIL
For riders looking for more of a challenge, the Wolf River Trail is six miles of tight corners, challenging climbs, and rough terrain. The trail is a technical one, so beginner beware!
After a technical ride like this, a good meal at Crab n Jack’s is in order. The updated, yet traditional, supper club has spectacular views of the scenic ledge, rocks, and rapids of the flowing Wolf River. Expect a fantastic fish fry and refreshing old-fashioned to cap off the night.
To truly take advantage of the outdoor beauty of the area, stay in a gorgeous cabin at River Haven on the Wolf. Stunning views of the wildflowers flourish on the property. The cabin boasts great amenities, including two indoor gas fireplaces, outdoor fire pits, and an outdoor hot tub overlooking the scenic river.
For more inspiration, be sure to visit travelwisconsin.com . Here’s to riding into summer in Wisconsin on two wheels!
Anne Sayers is the secretary-designee at Wisconsin Department of Tourism.