Along The Elroy-Sparta State Bike Trail
The Elroy-Sparta State Bike Trail
The ‘Granddaddy of them all’, the Elroy-Sparta State Bike Trail, this 32-mile bike trail was the first opened ‘Rails to Trails’ conversion in the country. It starts in Elroy and goes through the small but, oh so friendly, communities of Kendall, Wilton and Norwalk, ending, of course, in Sparta. You’ll traverse the watersheds of three rivers: the Baraboo, Kickapoo and LaCrosse. The Elroy-Sparta State Bike Trail crosses 34 bridges and goes through three tunnels.
The scenery is iconic: rolling hills, wooded slopes, incredible bluffs and beautiful Wisconsin farmland. So make sure to bring your camera for some unbelievable shots.
You’ll feel like you’re in a tunnel of trees throughout much of the Elroy-Sparta State Bike Trail. But, if the real thing is more to you’re liking, you’ll enjoy the three tunnels on the trail. The first tunnel between Kendall and Wilton is 1,680 feet and is considered by many to be the most scenic since it is supported by the natural rock terrain of the area. The second tunnel between Wilton and Norwalk is also 1,680 feet and is reinforced with massive stone blocks. The third tunnel between Norwalk and Sparta is 3,810 feet. In some weather the tunnel is so dark at its center it’s impossible to see either end. So it is suggested that you bring flashlights and outergear (it can get wet and chilly in the tunnels).
Most of the bike trail is crushed limestone for a smooth but forgiving riding surface. The steepest grade is 3%.
Places to stop and stay in Elroy
The Elroy Commons is where the Elroy-Sparta State Bike Trail, the Omaha Trail and the ‘400’ State Trail all meet. Read our blog, on Biking Juneau County and the Greater Mauston Area here.
The Elroy Historical Society Museum is a step into Elroy’s past as a bustling railroad town. There’s even a working model railroad, fun for the young at heart. It’s just a plain hoot to see and you’ll learn something too.
The Elroy Public Library always welcomes bike travelers. It’s the perfect stop to enjoy air-conditioned comfort while checking your e-mails or reading a newspaper.
The Elroy Movie Theater, established in 1937, is one of the longest continually-running, privately-owned, single screen movie theaters in the country. And, it features first-run films. It’s worth it to check their Facebook page for movies and times and plan it into your trip. Go early enough to check out the theater and have a fun conversation with the owner serving up the popcorn.
E. O. Schultz Park This beautiful park is located on the Baraboo River. There is a swimming pool, playground, baseball field, volleyball nets, tennis courts, bathrooms, showers and shelters in addition to campsites.
Allen Thompson Memorial Park This walk-in park features a small lake near the entrance. And is a self-registering DNR campground with 13 tent sites with fire rings, a water pump and toilets.
Trails Gate Inn
The TrailsGate Inn was built just after the turn of the century. This folk-style Victorian home has all of its original woodwork and many original architectural features. It features tall ceilings, large and airy bedrooms, and remodeled bathrooms in keeping with the character of its time. It’s your gateway to a Rails to Trails biking adventure; a choice of three bike trails start just down the street at the Elroy Commons.
Waarvik’s Century Farm
It’s not often you get an opportunity to stay in a 140-year old pioneer log cabin. It has been in the family for four generations and sleeps five. It is magically set in the peace and quiet of the countryside. and the surrounding acreage is astounding in its beauty.
Benders Family Restaurant
Featuring family-style, american food Bender’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Don’t miss their Friday night fish fry.
Places to stop and stay in Kendall
Sugar Maple Inn
This small family-run business is right off the bike trail. You can grill your own food, enjoy a picnic and relax around a campfire.
Dolly’s Pedalers Rest
This 150-year-old, 4-bedroom, 2-bath farmhouse is located directly on the trail. It features the grandeur of 150-year-old oak trees, a quaint spring-fed pond, enormous rock formations, and bright starlit skies. The perfect place to reconnect with nature.
Ocooch Mountain Marketplace
This cooperative in the old Kendall elementary school features a variety of organic vegetables (in season) dry goods, canned goods, egg noodles, soaps, goat milk shampoo, conditioners and so much more- locally sourced from the surrounding farming community and small businesses. Stop in for Collin’s Coffee, locally-roasted, it’s one of the best cups you’ll ever have. A cafe is opening soon.
Places to stop and stay in Wilton
Dorset Valley School Restaurant
In 1998 this one-room school house was remodeled into a beautiful country-themed restaurant and serves great country cooked meals and scrumptious pies.
On top of the school house sets the original 300 lbs. still functional school bell.
Trail-Side Bed & Breakfast
Shares the grounds with Dorset Valley School. Stay the night. Visit the Beauty Salon and coffee shop or Amish Furniture Store and take home some fresh baked breads, cookies, candies, and Amish crafts.