The League of American Bicyclists recently ranked Wisconsin as the third-best Bike-Friendly State for 2014 and ninth-best for 2015. With over 108,000 miles of roads, Wisconsin has abundant on and off-road biking resources while Wisconsin’s nationally acclaimed “rails to trails” biking network offers smooth riding and scenic views.
Wisconsin Department of Tourism Biking Guide
The Wisconsin Department of Tourism (www.travelwisconsin.com) has a guide (2014 – Eighth Edition pdf) of bike trails in Wisconsin. Some examples are the 32-mile Elroy-Sparta trail which winds through three century-old railroad tunnels, wooded valleys, and small towns and the paved 83.4-mile
Mountain Bay State Trail which stretches from Green Bay to Wausau winding through Amish settlements, the Stockbridge-Munsee Reservation, woodlands, marshes, and farmland. In fact, there are over 1,000 miles of biking trails that criss-cross the state.
The guide is a good reference to have in order to appreciate biking in Wisconsin. This guide provides a detailed map and difficulty rating for each trail in Wisconsin, including off-road mountain bike trails, designated bike trails, and on-road loop tours. In addition, there is also information about nearby tourist attractions, trail amenities, parks, and accommodations. Many of the tour and trail descriptions also include a small graph depicting the changes in elevation over the length of the route.
The Wisconsin State Bicycle Map
The Wisconsin Bicycle Map highlights the most favorable bicycling conditions and rates all roadways. The map is split into 8 panels printed on 4 separate “maps”. Each quarter section map may be purchased separately, or all four may be purchased as a set.
The maps have routes marked according to their appropriateness for cycling (level & speed of auto traffic, presence of shoulders or bike lanes, etc.). The maps also have the state trails that do not allow motorized vehicles in non-winter months. The maps were recently updated in 2010 and are ideal for long-distance touring bicyclists as well as casual recreational riders or transportation bicyclists.
Wisconsin County Bike Maps
WisDOT also has downloadable bike maps for each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. These county maps come from the Wisconsin State Bike Map. Each county map highlights the most favorable bicycling conditions while presenting the full continuum of roadways – from narrow town roads to US Highways. This approach enables cyclists of all abilities to select their own routes to meet their individual transportation and recreational needs.
Local Bicycling Information
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has compiled a list of Wisconsin local bicycle map and route information from various counties and cities. Additionally, DOT provides a series of “urban” bike maps focused on Wisconsin municiplaities with populations greater than 25,000.
Wisconsin State Park – Bike Trails
For those interested in state park trails, the Wisconsin DNR offers listings of several paved and off-road State Park trails, most of which are accompanied by downloadable maps.
City of Madison – Bike Maps
The City of Madison Traffic Engineering web site offers a free bike map pdf that shows the bike routes around the city. Additionally, Ridge and Valley Rides also offers bike maps for the Madison area.
City of Milwaukee – Bike Map
OpenCycleMap is a world-wide map for cyclists, based on data from the OpenStreetMap project and the “wiki-map” concept, OpenCycleMap data is created by its users. OpenCycleMap data can be seen in various maps, applications and resources, such as thunderforest.com’s tile services. See routes that should be mapped? Add them to the OpenStreetMap.
Interactive Bicycle Route Maps
Increasingly there are becoming options for interactively mapping a route online.
- Madison, WI Interactive Bicycle Trip Planner is a map site for locating biking routes in and around the city of Madison.
- Google maps includes a bicycle route feature as part of its popular web-mapping service.
Great Arc Bike Route
The Great Arc refers to the shape of the Niagara Escarpment which extends from eastern Wisconsin through the Upper Pennisula of Michigan and southern Ontario, finally terminating in Western New York State at Niagara Falls. The Great Arc Bike Route follows the Niagara Escarpment in Northeastern Wisconsin. The bike route in Wisconsin takes riders along some of the highest escarpment cliffs in Wisconsin at approximately 250 feet above Green Bay in Door County.
American Bike Trails Maps
Individual maps of biking trails and trail systems around the Midwest are available from American Bike Trails Distribution. Each map gives a detailed description of the trail, its history, and other points of interest as well as locates facilities and places to access the trail.
Adventure Cycling Route Network
Adventure Cycling is a nonprofit organization, with a mission to inspire and empower people to travel by bicycle. Adventure cycling develops excellent cycling routes and maps, with turn-by-turn directions, detailed navigational instructions, and elevation profiles. The maps provide information specifically designed for cyclists: the location of bike shops, sources for food and water, and listings of overnight accommodations including camping facilities, small hotels, and cyclists-only lodging. The Adventure Cycling Route Network covers the entire US and parts Canada, including Wisconsin’s “North Lakes” route and .
Other Bicycling Maps
A number of privately produced maps and books focus on particular bike routes and/or trail systems for biking. They are available at many general bookstores, as well as businesses that sell or rent bicycles. Also, check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, or the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin web pages for more information.