I began riding the trails on June 30, 2010. The Trail Behind blog, well.................trailed behind until August, where you can see my first post, and then a LONG pause until now. I'm back pedaling, as it were, to the first trail of the project.
The obvious beginning trail was the one in my own town: the Red Cedar Trail. The trail head is on Highway 29 west, just over a bridge crossing the Red Cedar River, on the western edge of Menomonie. Across the highway heading north, Stokke Trail (a paved city trail) will continue along the river until Highway 25 (Broadway Street). If a right turn is made here, the sidewalk over a bridge will go into the downtown area. The downtown has lots of shops, restaurants, a brewery, and bars. (This is Wisconsin!) A visit is recommended. The Stokke Trail can be taken across Broadway Street to the north side of Menomonie for hotels/motels and other shopping.
Back at the trail head. Check out the Visitor's Center for trail information and local history, because there is lots of it: stone quarries, lumber barons, railroad lore and what to see along the way. There is parking available on both sides of the highway.
Trail information contact: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 921 Brickyard Road, Menomonie, WI 54751 715-232-1242.
Trail head location: Restored train depot, Highway 29 west, Menomonie, WI just over bridge, west side of Menomonie
Length: 14 1/2 miles
Usage: (Summer) Biking, pedestrian, non-motorized. (Winter) Snowshoe, part of trail is tracked for cross-country skiing/skate-ski, non-motorized.
Surface: Crushed limestone. Hard packed, well maintained, probably ok for road bikes.
Road/Highway crossings: Very few. Many bridges. (Fun!)
Scenic: Very. Follows the Red Cedar River. Woods, meadows, wetlands, waterfalls, farm land, sandstone bluffs (a sandstone "weeping wall" that is spectacular in the winter)
Trail signage: Much info along the way for history sites. Trail has mile markers (not all state trails do!)
Regional trail system: The Red Cedar Trail is connected to the Chippewa River Trail, so riders could go to Durand or to Eau Claire (eventually to Cornell by way of the Old Abe Trail).
Rest Stops: 3 miles to Irvington. Trailside Bar and parking area/trail access at County D and Paradise Valley Road. 7 miles to Downsville, bars, coffee shop, restaurants, pottery, museum, parking/trail access at Highway 25 and County C. 11 miles to Dunnville Wildlife Area. No official parking, no refreshment/toilet here. Take the little dirt/gravel road to go to the end of the trail and you can park there. Winds about, crossed the bike path multiple times, is very dusty and some pot holes. Short steep climb up to the trail from "parking area ". View the trestle bridge (scenic!) and the river bottoms (mosquitoes!). Cross the trestle bridge, and it is the end of Red Cedar Trail/beginning of Chippewa River Trail. Left (east) to Eau Claire and right (west) to Durand.
Those are the facts, Jack. The experience of the trail is such a pleasant one. Just go. I had been on the trail before, of course, but usually had not gone the whole distance. Rails to trails paths are linear. There is no loop to end up at the beginning. Either park a car with bike racks at each end, or be prepared to go to the end and double back. Fourteen miles then becomes twenty-eight.
|Be sure to buy a daily or annual trail pass. Go for the annual.|
|There's more to do here than just bike.|
|The Trailside Bar in Irvington.|
|The "weeping wall", a sandstone bluff. An ice wall in winter.|
|Downsville: Eat pie here!|
|Keep an eye out for the wildlife: turkey family.|
|One of the waterfalls along the way.|
|The trestle bridge over the Chippewa River and soon to the end.|
|End of the Red Cedar Trail, and the beginning of the next Trail Behind adventure.|
I highly recommend the Red Cedar Trail. It is very scenic, with an easy grade (no hills) and pretty good wildlife viewing.
Mantra: Keep on pedaling and no bears.