The Badger State Trail is a 40 mile linear bike path paved with crushed limestone in south central Wisconsin. The trailbed occupies the former Illinois Central Railroad's Freeport to Madison line. It was converted to a multi-use path in 2006.
The trail begins on Madison's West Side in Fitchburg at a major intersection of bike trails and runs south towards Monroe and eventually the Illinois state line to where the trail meets up with the Jane Adams Trail. One of the stand out features of this trail is the Stewart Tunnel - a historic rail tunnel carved out of a stone hill that is 1/4 of a mile long and 21 feet high. Otherwise, most of the scenery along the Badger State Trail is bucolic countryside with lazy creeks and quiet pastures.
The Ice Age National includes certified segments along the Badger State Trail - The Montrose Segment and and the Monticello Segment.
The nearby Dawley Park Bike Hub serves as a major starting point for groups heading out for an afternoon on the trails. The bike hub is a modern facility with flush toilets, water, air pumps, bike repair tools, bike racks, a parking lot, and an informational kiosk. Riders can access the Bike Hub off Seminole Highway or the Capital City State Trail.
Another popular spot to access the Badger State Trail is from the Monticello parking lot. At Monticello the Sugar River State Trail intersects the Badger State Trail. It is a fairly easy 4 mile ride from the Monticello lot heading north to Stewart Tunnel - and an easy downhill ride back to the lot. The lot at Monticello offers running water and vault toilets.
The Stewart Tunnel is the big draw for bike tourists on this trail. The tunnel was completed in 1887 with hand tools, explosives, and a steam shovel. The long tunnel curves over its length so that when standing in the middle a person can experience pure darkness. Flashlights are required and bikers should walk their bikes through the tunnel. The Stewart tunnel is also a cool respite on a hot summer afternoon.
Another popular staging point for outings on the Badger State Trail is at Belleville. Belleville is approximately 4 miles to the north of Stewart Tunnel. Belleville is a hub of recreational activity on weekends, with cyclists and kayakers enjoying outdoor cafes and coffee shops on easy going Saturday mornings.
The Badger State Trail is subject to state trail fees. Riders can purchase day passes at self registration kiosks or annual passes from the Wisconsin DNR. In 2016 the price of an annual pass was $25. Trail passes are good for all state trails including mountain biking trails.
More photos, links, addresses for parking lots, and an interactive trail map are below.
Overview: Badger State Trail
COUNTIES: Dane, Green
COMMUNITIES: Madison, Fitchburg, Verona, Oregon, Paoli, Basco, Belleville, Exeter, Monticello, Monroe, Clarno
TOTAL MILES: 40
PAVEMENT: Crushed Stone
POINTS OF INTEREST: Stewart Tunnel, Ice Age National Trail Montrose Segment, Ice Age National Trail Monticello Segment, Capital City State Trail, Cannonball Trail, Southwest Commuter Trail, Sugar River State Trail, Jane Adams Trail, Sugar River,
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
Addresses for your GPS:
Dawley Park Bike Hub in Fitchburg: 3041 Seminole Hwy, Fitchburg, WI 53711 43.020316, -89.453045
Purcel Road Lot: 6301 Purcell Road Fitchburg, WI 42.943147, -89.481953
Monticello Lot: 300 Pratt Road Monticello WI 42.742359, -89.579314
Library Park in Belleville: 102 East Pearl Street Belleville WI 42.858587, -89.533331
Twining Park in Monroe: 420 14th Avenue Monroe WI 42.607750, -89.642647
|From Milwaukee||2 Hours|
|From Madison||1 Hour|
|From Green Bay||3 Hours|
|From Wausau||3 Hours|
|From Minneapolis||5 Hours|
|From Chicago||2.5 Hours|