WI White River Trail
White River State Trail
11.25 Mile crushed gravel multi-use trail from Elkhorn, WI to near Burlington, WI in Walworth County.
Terrain / Scenery: Farmlands, Mature Oak Forest.
Fees / Permits: WI State Trails Permit. $4 daily, $15 annual fee, self register
Trail Conditions: Crushed gravel,; clay and gravel 2-track between mile 3 and 6.
Trail Markings: Mileposts with Mileage going west to east, maps and information at parking, you can't get lost.
Official Web Page: http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/parks/specific/whiteriver/index.htm Map is available for download.
More Info Here: http://www.whiterivercycleclub.com/
Getting There: Trail access is best at Springfield, WI by 120 or at Lyons, Wi. Parking also avilable at County H in Elkhorn, County NN, and Spring Valley Road near Burlington.
Take WI 50 to US 12 (or US 12 coming from IL) to Rt 36/120 exit, (2nd exit for Lake Geneva going north on US 12). Springfield parking area is 1 block north of the 120/26 junction.
This is a newer Wisconsin State Trail that opened in 2003. It is an 11.25 mile trail one way.
The Pedal & Cup cafe and bike was closed for the season when I visited. Various taverns and stores in Lyons apparently are open year round. There are porta-pottys at Springfield, but no water anywhere along the trail.
This trail is quite beautiful and bucolic, in a valley between with the moraineal hills. East of Springfield is a large Christmas tree farm, followed by corn and soybean fields in a valley with a wooded ridge to the south, and rolling hills to the north. There were still bluebirds flying around here in October, so there must be good opportunities for birdwatching through the spring and summer seasons as well. Several small creeks intersect the trail. The Springfield parking lot is a Mile 6, and the first glimpse of the White River, which is more like a large creek, is after milepost 9. Lyons is a more lively little town at around mile 8.75, and you pass through town park along the way. A trail bridge crosses the river by milepost 10. There are riffles here where the river makes a bend. The trail along here is a raised railroad grade, and there are wetland areas on each side.
At around 10.5 miles, a farm road bridge crosses the river to the north. The river looks to be 6 to 12 inches deep, and should be navigatable by kayak. In the spring, the Prairie State Canoeists generally plan a trip at high water levels. The east end of the trail has a small parking lot at Spring Valley Road. There are directions posted there how to get to the Seven Waters Trailhead at the park in Burlington by the Fox River.
Going back west, I realised that the trail, because it is on an old railroad grade, is generally downhill from Mile 1 to Mile 10, which means that I had to go uphill (gently) for 10 miles. Somehow, during this part of the ride, I noticed how monotonous a rails to trail path can be :) . Still, the scenery was beautiful, in this part of Southeastern Wisconsin, you get the impression that you are farther away from the urban areas than you actually are.
West of Springfield, the trail is more like a two-track road, with a hard packed clay surface. The area begins to become more wooded around milepost 5, and there are benches if you want to stop at the "50-foot overlook" at mile 4. From here, you ride through a mature oak forest to mile 3 at the County NN crossing. There is a parking lot here, and I saw one guy walking his dog on the way west, and another hiking through the woods coming back. This really is a nice place to go for a hike if you want something close to solitude and to be in the woods.
I don't have much good to say about the stretch between Milepost 3 and the beginning of the trail at Highway H in Elkhorn. You are riding in between big flat cornfields in this section, and after milepost 2, the noise from US 12 becomes increasingly louder. You don't have to cross US Highway 12 - there is an underpass below a bridge before milepost 1. After that, you pass by a subdivision to the north, and at the County H parking lot, there were bulldozers and trucks, but not much else.
My recommendation for a ride if you have a limited amount of time: Park at Springfield. Go west to Highway NN, then turn back east and go past the wooden bridge over the river to about mile 10.5, where the farm bridge is on the noth side of the trail.
This page is authored and maintained by DaveC