August 21, 2010. Originally, I was going to bike the Cattail State Trail which begins in Amery, and runs east to Almena. After scouting ahead in Amery, I found that it isn't a proper bike touring trail, but a year-round multi-use trail (walking, mountain biking, horseback, snowmobiling, ATVs) with a rough gravel surface. As previously stated, perhaps sometime I will do the rougher trails with my Trek, actually a mountain bike (I've had the tires switched to hybrid for smoother road action) but that's a few miles down the trail. I prefer the screened limestone/paved trails for now. Touring trails. While I was gathering information in Amery, I discovered the Stower 7 Lakes Trail was officially opening later that week. What luck!
The City of Amery's website isn't current, since it doesn't list the trail as having been upgraded. Many websites might not even list its existence since it just opened August 21. You got the news here first. The trail is now surfaced with screened limestone, and was in very good shape the day I rode it.
There is a parking lot just to the south (or left) of me. There are plans to build a community building by the trail head, but for now, look for a small park and a parking area near the intersection of Harriman and Center Avenue, just west off Hwy. 46 which runs right through Amery. (Cattail Trail is pretty much opposite this trail head, across Hwy. 46, behind the Fire Station which faces the highway.) Easy to find.
The opening was well attended! State Senator Sheila Harsdorf was there, Matthew Frank, DNR Secretary, and other speechifiers. The "Stower" of Stower 7 Lakes State Trail refers to Harvey and Marilyn Stower. Harvey Stower served as a state representative of the 28th assembly district, and as mayor of Amery for many years. He died in September, 2009. Family members cut the "opening of the trail ribbon".
I expected a big clump of bikers fighting to get to the front, but no such thing. Most of the people in the crowd were just there for the speeches, I guess. Many of those people had worked to build and improve the trail as volunteers, so........THANKS! I hope they enjoyed the celebration and felt rewarded. I do so appreciate a good bike trail. Probably there were a couple dozen or so cyclists.
After that, I was off down the trail. The day was somewhat overcast, which is a good thing for biking. The trail was open with wetlands and fields on either side, or woods, or one of the seven lakes would appear. Actually, I count six lakes on my road map, but I'm sure they didn't make it up.
There are small road crossings, and one highway crossing. Everything is well marked.
Since it was opening day, "rest tents" were stationed along the way with drinks, and a place to cool off. The first stop is Deronda, 3.6 miles after Amery.
The trail is fourteen miles long. It is easy biking, no hills, not even much of an incline that I can remember. A very new way station is located just after Deronda.
You can park your bike here. You can sit under an awning. You can throw things away, and hopefully recycle them. You can use this pretty fancy outhouse, but you can't get a drink because there is no plumbing. About this time, you might be thirsty, but no such luck. That is why you carry a water bottle. Frankly, from this photo, the outhouse looks more like a smokehouse with that chimney. I didn't go in there.
Still thirsty? It's been 3.7 miles since Deronda. See the sign for Wanderoos? Go to the right a few blocks. Bike around Wanderoos. Wanderoos. Wanderoos. Wanderoos. Hee hee. It's fun to say. Try it. I don't think the town was named after Macaca silenus: a monkey of South Central Asia having a glossy black coat and ruff of gray hair about the face, pronounced wan-deh-roo. I just don't think so. Further research must be done. But back to that thirsty business.
Bike to this most excellent place. It's historic, you can attend school, and quench your thirst all at the same time. When you go through the front door, go downstairs. Don't go upstairs. I did that. People live there.
This is the second bar on a bike trail, where a bike lottery is featured. Not only can you bike a trail, but you can win a bike! Worth it!
I just wanted a shortie, so it was a Coors Light. I'm not a light beer fan, but it's probably not a bad idea when biking. You can see that this is a friendly place.
Back on the bike and on the trail..........a major change of scene from a glowing, friendly tavern to a spooky wetland. Actually, it was really pretty, with lots of birds.
Pedal for 4.6 miles and arrive at Nye. If you actually want to visit Nye, you must turn left at the small road before this sign on the trail. The trail does not go into Nye. I did not turn off the trail to experience Nye. Sorry, nothing to report.
2.6 miles after Nye, The End. Well. And it does just............end.
You can see that it could keep going. If it did, this trail would connect with the 98 mile long Gandy Dancer State Trail that begins in St. Croix Falls, WI, goes up to Danbury, WI, wanders about in Minnesota for a bit before finding its bearings and returns to Wisconsin to end up at Superior. The old rail bed is there for the trail to be built on, but ownership of a section by a quarry interrupts its completion. Perhaps someday this will be part of a very long trail system. But there is that funding problem, and somethings tells me that the recent political switch isn't going to favor the development of bike trails.
To the right (east) of the trail end, is Lotus Lake County Park. This would be a good place to park a car if you want to start from this end, or be picked up. Just bike for .03 miles. Since there was a reward for me to do so, I did.
The last "rest tent". The park is small and charming, and there were.......................
friendly people with.............................
COOKIES!! I only had one. Guess which one? No, you are not going to win anything. "Pedal Power On The Stower". Because this was not the end for me. I had to return to my car in Amery, which was 14 miles back. So eat the cookie, girl, turn around and pedal some more. And no stopping in Wanderoos.
Trail information contact: Wisconsin DNR, City of Amery, Wisconsin, Facebook Friends of the Stower Seven Lakes State Trail, Polk County, Wisconsin
Trial head location: Amery, Wisconsin (Harriman and Center Avenue, off Hwy. 46 across from the Fire Station)
Length: 14 miles
Usage: (Summer) walking, biking non-motorized (Winter) walking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing (untracked).
Highway crossings: Small roads, one highway, well-marked.
Surface: Limestone screenings
Signage: Directional signs and mile markers, yes. Historic signs and better end of trail sign would be nice.
Regional trail system: Not yet.
Rest stops: village of Deronda, village of Wanderoos, way station after Deronda. (toilet only, no water there)
Those are the facts, Jack. It was a pleasant trail. My congratulations for the new opening and to the volunteers who undoubtedly worked very hard to make it happen. Wanderoos, Wanderoos, Wanderoos.................
Mantra: Keep on pedaling and no bears.