Biking in La Crosse, WI
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and can coast down them….Ernest Hemingway
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La Crosse, Wisconsin’s, picturesque bluffs and riverlands and quiet county highways make for some of the best road and mountain biking in the world. Over 100 miles of highly maintained bike paths and trails cover the region, and the City of La Crosse has achieved the Silver-level designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community, with miles of designated bike lanes, bikeways well-marked by sharrows (shared-lane markings) and more bicycle friendly businesses per capita than any other city in Wisconsin. City road maps showing designated bike routes detailing can viewed at the City of La Crosse website, and the Wisconsin Bike Federation sells maps detailing the rideability of Wisconsin’s state and county highways. And be sure to check out our Bicycling in the Driftless Region page, with maps and information on 11 self-supported road rides right here in the La Crosse area.
Nearly ten miles of multi-use trails crisscross the wooded bluffs on the eastern edge of La Crosse, including the newly completed, 2.3-mile Rotary Vista Trail, an excellent challenge for avid mountain bikers. Four designated parking areas provide convenient access to the trails, which can also be reached by bike or on foot via connecting trails from Myrick Park, or even downtown La Crosse via Riverside Park. The Hixon Forest Trails offer access to the popular Grandad Bluff Park and its stunning views of the city and river valley, as well as four other designated vistas. Hikers and mountain bikers can also connect to Human Powered Trails at the top of the ridge (across County Hwy FA). Visit the City of La Crosse’s Parks, Recreation, & Forestry website for trail maps.
Human Powered Trails, Inc. is a growing non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with a goal of maintaining and developing sustainable and environmentally correct trails for the La Crosse, WI region. The trails are located just outside of the City of La Crosse, on County Hwy FA. There is a trailhead and parking lot right next to the National Weather Service Station. Look for the big golf ball (weather ball) in the sky! HPT is dedicated to providing trails for all user types and skill levels. From the parents that want to go out and explore nature with their children, to the hardcore mountain biker, and even the first time cyclist. All of the trails built by HPT, Inc. and its many volunteers are open for all types of human powered shared use – including hiking, biking, birding, trail running, skiing, snowshoeing, and more. So grab the kids, or call a friend and come out and explore the ever expanding trails on the bluffs overlooking the beautiful coulee region! Get the map here!
Wisconsin State Trails
Four rail-bed trails spanning nearly 101 miles from Reedsburg, WI, to Marshland, WI, offer some of the best hiking and biking in the region. The trails take you through marshes and valleys, along the rivers, and offer access to several communities, parks, and recreation areas, including Perrot State Park, Veteran’s Memorial Park, and the La Crosse River Prairies State Natural Area.
- 400 Wisconsin State Trail (22 miles, Reedsburg-Elroy)
- Elroy-Sparta State Trail (32 miles, Elroy-Sparta)
- La Crosse River State Trail (21.5 miles, Sparta-Onalaska) Interactive map of the La Crosse River State Trail
- Great River State Trail (24.5 miles, Onalaska-Trempeleau) Interactive map of The Great River State Trail
The Wisconsin State Park System requires users of the trails to hold state trail passes. Passes are required for anyone age 16 or older biking on the trails. Children under the age of 16 can bike the trails for free. Walking and hiking on the state bike trails is free.
- River Trail Cycles, 106 Mason St, Onalaska 2nd place, Best Bike Shop in La Crosse County 2014 Group rides: Tues, Wed, Sun (weather & daylight permitting) (Rentals Available)
- Heron Bikes, Blue Heron – 213 Main St, Onalaska; Green Heron – 11369 Main St, Trempealeau. Bike sales, repairs and rentals. Including one way bike rental on the Great River State Trail.
The Great River Road
The Wisconsin DOT has a great guide for biking along the Great River Road. The maps show low and high traffic roads as well as the trail information to get through Onalaska and La Crosse.
La Crosse County to Chicago
Did you know you can ride from Onalaska to Chicago with most of the route on rails to trails? Local rider Scott McMurray was kind enough to share with us his route for a six day journey from Onalaska to Chicago with a ride back home on the Amtrack Empire Builder.