Bicycling the Great River State Trail

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Crossing The Black River on the Great River State Bicycle Trail in Trempealeau WI
Crossing The Black River on the Great River State Bicycle Trail in Trempealeau WI

The Great River State Trail is a bicycle trail that follows an abandoned rail spur from La Crosse to Marshland WI. Half of the trail is situated close to the banks of the Mississippi River, while the other half crosses through floodplains, deltas, and wildlife preserves. The trail is paved with crushed stone and is flat and easy in both directions. There are ample parking lots, restrooms, hotels, campgrounds, and bicycle shops that service riders of the trail. You can also connect to the Lacrosse River State Trail, Elroy Sparta State Trail, 400 Trail, and Omaha Trail. 







Crossing The Black River on the Great River State Bicycle Trail in Trempealeau WI
Crossing The Black River on the Great River State Bicycle Trail in Trempealeau WI


Life in the river valley thumps to the heartbeat of constantly passing trains. There is no better way to witness the might of American commerce on the move than by bicycling from Onalaska to Perrort State Park on The Great River Trail. The trail traces its route along one of the busiest railways in the United States. Beyond the tracks, barges silently drift along America's original thoroughfare, The Great Mississippi River.

The river towns of Onalaska, Midway, and Trempealeau ooze with Americana. They are trail towns now. Each offers eateries and inns set into old small town main streets. You can enjoy coffee and a sandwich in outdoor cafes and listen to the trains thundering through town.

Between the towns the trail takes cyclists on an elevated line through endless swamplands. Snakes and frogs dart out of your way and slip into the silent dark water on either side of the trail. Great blue herons cackle from some hidden place deep in the swamps.

The trail is easy, flat, and straight. It passes over so many bridges they are impossible to count. When you are not biking on the planks of a bridge, you are riding along on smooth crushed stone.

The trail connects to Perrot State Park where camping, canoeing, and hiking are famous. At the Southern end of the trail you can continue on biking along the Lacrosse River State Trail, which in turn connects to the Elroy Sparta, 400, and Omaha bike trails. You can bike off roads continuously from Perrot State Park to Reedsburg. There are campgrounds, water stations, restrooms, inns, and bicycle shops throughout this network of trails, making it ideal for long distance bicycle touring.

My favorite length of the Great River Trail is from downtown Onalaska to Downtown Trempealeau. Along this route you will pass a lock and dam on the Mississippi, get up close and personal with passing freight trains, and cross the old trestle bridge over the Black River.

Along the Great River State Bicycle Trail in Trempealeau County WI
Along the Great River State Bicycle Trail in Trempealeau County WI




Overview: Great River State Trail


COUNTY: La Crosse County, Trempealeau
COMMUNITIES: La Crosse, Onalaska, Midway, Trempealeau, Marshland

TOTAL MILES: 25.2
PAVEMENT: Crushed Stone

POINTS OF INTEREST: Mississippi River, Black River, Tempealeau River, Perrot State Park, Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, Great River Trail Parries State Wildlife Area



Directions and Trail Map




Address for your GPS: 3801 County Road B, La Crosse, WI 54601
| coordinates: 43.859393, -91.201860 |

From Milwaukee3 Hours
From Madison2 Hours
From Green Bay3 Hours
From Wausau2.5 Hours
From Minneapolis2.5 Hours
From Chicago4 Hours



Photos


Crossing the Black River on The Great River State Trail in Termpealeau WI
Crossing the Black River on The Great River State Trail in Termpealeau WI



Along the Great River State Bicycle Trail in Trempealeau County WI
Along the Great River State Bicycle Trail in Trempealeau County WI

Along the Great River State Bicycle Trail in Trempealeau County WI
Along the Great River State Bicycle Trail in Trempealeau County WI