Elroy-Sparta State Trail

Creek crossing, Elroy-Sparta State Trail

This week I continued my summer tour of Wisconsin recreational trails. I’ve been meaning to ride the Elroy-Sparta State Trail for a long time. Opened in 1967, it’s considered this country’s first trail to be built on an abandoned railbed.

Tunnel #1, Elroy-Sparta State Trail

The cool temps of the tunnels are a welcome relief from the summer heat. But the atmosphere inside is… a bit creepy. Flashlights are suggested, but entering the tunnel on a bright sunny day, they do little to illuminate anything past the wet floor beneath your feet. After a several minutes of walking, your eyes finally begin to adjust to the darkness. When you’re able to actually see the rock of the tunnel walls, you really get a sense of how much work it took to blast through.

Elroy-Sparta State Trail

A good portion of the trail is under a lush tree canopy, which is great for keeping the sun off of your neck, but doesn’t make for the best photo opportunities. That’s okay though. Sometimes I need to remind myself to put the camera away and enjoy the moment.

Elroy-Sparta State Trail

It’s also one of the straightest trails I’ve ever ridden. At times, especially when pedaling up hill, the trail seems to go on forever. Thankfully the steepest grades on the old railroad bed are 2-3%.

The Friends of the Elroy-Sparta State Trail has a lot more info on their website, including the history of the trail, and the tunnels.

3 comments on “Elroy-Sparta State Trail

  1. Dear Jonathan :

    I grew up in Northern WI and I am preparing a lecture for the Fulbright Center in Helsinki, Finland that I will give next week. I will talk about the similarities between the landscapes of Finland and the upper Midwest. I am going to show this image. Just wanted you to know – beautiful image. I will be sure to credit you! Thank you!

  2. Thanks for the message Cherie. It’s interesting you see a lot of similarities between Finland and the upper Midwest. Everything I’ve heard about the Scandinavian area sounds so beautiful, I’d love to visit someday.

    Hope your lecture goes well.

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