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“Great Bicycle Ride in the Wisconsin Countryside”

Elroy-Sparta State Trail
Ranked #1 of 3 things to do in Elroy
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: A 34-mile trail.
Lisle, IL
Level Contributor
84 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 120 helpful votes
“Great Bicycle Ride in the Wisconsin Countryside”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 4 October 2013

My wife and I took on the challenge to do a round trip bicycle trip on the Elroy-Sparta bicycle trail, about a 64 mile round trip. We did complete the trip and had a great time on this trail. We started in Elroy and proceeded to Sparta and back. The trail meanders its way in the Wisconsin countryside with some nice views of rolling hills and forested areas. The trail is for the most part flat, but there is a consistent, noticeable upward grade for a couple of miles before each of the three tunnels that will definitely slow you down a little and make you work. On the plus side, once you come out of a tunnel you have a couple of miles of downhill ride. The trail is crushed limestone and is well maintained and plenty wide for passing and riding side by side.

A few pointers. If you are going to start in Elroy, there is a large parking lot in the downtown area located a couple of blocks just to the south of the trail head just in case you aren't familiar with the area (which we weren't). You do have to buy a trail pass for $4/person, but we didn't see any place to buy the pass in Elroy. We rode about 6 miles to Kendall where there is an official bike path building right on the path where passes could be purchased. We were glad we purchased our passes as further in our ride we were stopped by a ranger who nicely asked to see our passes. If you start in Sparta, there is an official path building in Sparta with some parking where you can purchase a pass as well.

There are a handful of towns along the way where there are places to eat and get more water/sports drinks. You should still plan on bringing plenty to drink with you on your bikes.

You will definitely need flashlights to get through all 3 tunnels, and each person should have one. Once you get about 50 feet into the tunnel you will realize how dark it gets and you actually lost your sense of balance a little. There is a lot of dripping water in the tunnels, which was refreshing but we didn't get soaking wet. You are asked to walk your bikes, and that is highly recommended as on both sides of the path there are low drainage areas that you can easily ride into and will most likely crash.

The town of Sparta is larger than Elroy and is livelier than Elroy with more places to stop get a quick bite before you make the return trip.

Make sure you bring what you need to repair flat tires (repair kit, spare tube, small pump and tools to get the tire off the rim) as I did get a leaky tire on the return trip and there don't appear to be any on the path repair shops, and you could find yourself making a long walk if you can't fix a flat tire.

We stayed in Mauston, Wi, about a 15 minute ride from Elroy, as there aren't a lot of good hotel options at either trail head. We did see two campgrounds right off the path, one near Elroy and one near Sparta. We made our trip on a Sunday, and there is a sporting/gun club near the campground in Elroy and the shotgun noise from the gun club was loud and easily heard at the campground. For the campground near Sparta, it is very close to the interstate, and so noise from the interstate could be heard at the campground.

Visited September 2013
Helpful?
9 Thank LisleFamilyof4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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88 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Altoona, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
18 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Awesome bike trail”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 September 2013

What sets this trail apart from others in the area is its extreme uniqueness. Whether it's the famed 3 tunnels or the quaint villages, this trail is a must ride. The trail isn't too challenging, however if you bike start to finish and then back to the starting point (64 miles total) the slight 3% grade can be a challenge. Last but not least, all bikers were polite and followed the rules of the trail.

Visited September 2013
Helpful?
Thank maccharlie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Stoughton, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
166 reviews
47 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 67 helpful votes
“The tunnels are fun!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 July 2013

We bike this trail every other year, just because of the tunnels. We camp at the Tunnel Trail campground and head right out of the campground onto the trail. The tunnels are nice and cool and drippy and feel so good on a hot day. The trail does have a slight incline on some portions of it. There's a nice little icecream shop in Norwalk. Make sure you have a seat on the "Sod Sofa"!

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank beachcruizer77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Rockton, Illinois
Level Contributor
58 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 24 helpful votes
“The Most Unique Trail”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 July 2013

This is the most unique trail I have traveled due to the three tunnels. The tunnel closest to Sparta is the longest at 3/4 mile. Certain times of the year, flashlights are definitely needed; trust me, I learned the hard way last year when I forgot my flashlight and literally could see nothing as I ran into the sides of the tunnel. LOL. There are quaint, interesting towns to visit along the way. I always feel like I get a great work out on the trail as there are hills leading up to the tunnels. And, then, the big reward is a long stretch downhill once exiting the tunnel. I make it a point to visit the Elroy/Sparta trail at least once a year.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank Tracy B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Junction City, WI
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“One of the best in the midwest”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 31 December 2012

I've done quite a few bike trails in the midwest and this is still one of my favorites. I do this trail at least once a year and it never gets old. I often suggest this trail as a starting point to my friends and family when I try to get them to go riding with me.

Visited May 2012
Helpful?
Thank Brian F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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