Biking the Ashland Trail System and Tricounty Corridor


The waterfront trail in Ashland WI

The Ashland Bike Trail System is now the signature feature along the lakeshore of this once gritty industrial port town. Ore docks, railroads, and industrial sites had kept the shoreline bustling with the sounds of industry and commerce up until the late 1970's. Now birds chirp as the calm water of Chequamegon Bay lap at sandy beaches.

Ashland's lakefront has been restored to nature and park lands. The waterfront trail encourages travelers and locals down to the waters edge. At its northeast end the path connects seamlessly to the Tri County Corridor - a 61 mile bike and ATV trail that cuts through dense national forest land to Superior and Duluth. All of the trails within Ashland are wide and paved with asphalt. And you can make an easy loop through and around the entire city. These trails are a joy to ride in the evening as the sun sets across the bay.




Old docks and fishing piers line the waterfront in Ashland WI
Old docks and fishing piers line the waterfront in Ashland WI


The region between Ashland and Bayfield is a major tourist trap - drawing travelers from southern Wisconsin, out-of-state, and even from abroad. Most travelers are racing through Ashland to reach the more quaint artisan villages of Washburn and Bayfield. But, with recent and ongoing improvements to the lakeshore Ashland is making a bid as a tourist destination of its own.

With a population of 10k plus, Ashland is one of the biggest cities on the shores of Lake Superior. That gives it some advantages over the small towns nearby. It has conveniences such as major shopping, larger scale chain hotels, an energetic downtown, and a movie theatre - which is especially nice on days when outdoor activities are rained out. It is also a college town - host to Northland College.

But, 10k is still a small population - so the character of Ashland is quiet, safe, and recreational. It's an easy place to relax; surrounded by the Chequamegon National Forest to the south and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to the north. This location is the perfect staging point for a major Up North vacation with easy access to hiking trails in the national forest, hiking at Copper Falls State Park a half hour drive south, and access to Bayfield and Madeline Island - a half hour drive north.

For my visit, I stayed at the Chequamegon Hotel - an updated version of a historic grand hotel placed right on the waterfront with a commanding view of the marina and newly restored coastal wetlands. The waterfront trail is the only separation between The Chequamegon property and Lake Superior.

On my first night in Ashland I headed out for a sunset ride. I cruised past the historic ore docks and monumental remnants of Ashland's busy commercial history. At the east end of the trail there is a sharp turn inland. From there I shuttled along through greenways and past neighborhood parks where evening ballgames were being played. The Tri-County Corridor in town is paved with asphalt and cuts through the back yards of traditional Midwestern neighborhoods.

Pearson Plaza connects the downtown commercial district to the waterfront in Ashland WI
Pearson Plaza connects the downtown commercial district to the waterfront in Ashland WI


At the high school, I cut off the trail and rode three easy blocks on quiet streets to the center of downtown. I grabbed a burger and shake at Buddies downtown. Between buddies and City Hall is a small greenway plaza which includes a pedestrian tunnel under the highway. This connects downtown to the waterfront trail.

Heading west along the waterfront trail walkers and riders enjoy the pristine wetlands at Prentice Park. The trail meanders through wetlands and then into a dense woods where there is a popular campground for tent campers. A few blocks on quiet streets from Prentice Park the Tri-County Corridor picks up again. It heads out of town on crushed gravel and continues 61 miles to its terminus in Superior.

The addition of the waterfront trail and greenway was a bet that Ashland too could turn its natural resources into attractive recreational centers. It is a pleasure to walk or ride this new trail system that connects residential areas and the downtown to beaches, parks, and marinas on the Lake Superior shoreline.

Riding the Waterfront Trail through Prentice Park in Ashland WI
Riding the Waterfront Trail through Prentice Park in Ashland WI


Overview: Tricounty Corridor


COUNTY: Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas
COMMUNITIES: Ashland, Moquah, Iron River, Brule, Maple, Poplar, Wentworth, Itasca, Superior, 

TOTAL MILES: 61
PAVEMENT: Asphalt and Crushed Stone

POINTS OF INTEREST: Lake Superior, Chequamegon National Forest, Amnicon Falls State Park


Directions and Trail Map




If viewing on a mobile device, open the trail map above to load into Google Maps App by touching the expand rectangle in the upper right corner

Address for your GPS: 601 Lake Shore Dr W, Ashland, WI 54806
| coordinates: 46.590503, -90.890545 |

From Milwaukee5.5 Hours
From Madison5 Hours
From Green Bay4 Hours
From Wausau3 Hours
From Minneapolis3.5 Hours
From Chicago7 Hours


Photos




City Hall Building at Pearson Plaza in Ashland WI
City Hall Building at Pearson Plaza in Ashland WI

Pearson Plaza connects downtown to the waterfront trail in Ashland WI
Pearson Plaza connects downtown to the waterfront trail in Ashland WI

There are several beaches along the waterfront trail in Ashland WI
There are several beaches along the waterfront trail in Ashland WI

some docks are still in use along the waterfront trail in Ashland WI
Some docks are still in use along the waterfront trail in Ashland WI

The iconic Ore Dock in Ashland WI
The iconic Ore Dock in Ashland WI

The iconic Ore Dock in Ashland WI
The iconic Ore Dock in Ashland WI


The Tri-County Corridor is paved in Ashland
The Tri-County Corridor is paved in Ashland


The Tri-County Corridor is paved in Ashland
The Tri-County Corridor is paved in Ashland

The City Hall Building is built of from Apostle Island Brownstone
The City Hall Building is built of from Apostle Island Brownstone

Riding along the waterfront trail in Ashland WI
Riding along the waterfront trail in Ashland WI







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