Backyard Dirt: Building Local Trails

This is a guest post written by Greg Madden

Remember mountain biking?  It was that thing you did in the woods on a bicycle with knobby tires until the vortex came.  Let us never speak of the vortex again.

Thankfully, spring is here, and it’s time to get back on the bike and return to the woods.  Wisconsin is blessed with great singletrack trail systems, but many are “weekend only” excursions – too far away to for most of us to hit up before or after work (or entirely during work when the boss is on vacation).  Luckily, more and more trails are being built closer to Wisconsin’s urban centers.  In fact, thanks to the dedication of mountain bike clubs and volunteers in Ozaukee, Washington, and Sheboygan Counties, opportunities abound for great singletrack trails just north of Milwaukee, giving thousands of us a chance to ride more and drive less.

One of the newest trail systems in this region is located at Pleasant Valley Park in the Town of Cedarburg.  The Ozaukee County Mountain Bikers (OCMB) club has built 4+ miles of singletrack in just over a year, where you’ll encounter everything from sweeping turns to technical rock gardens to what is essentially a dirt roller coaster, all just minutes from the heavily-populated suburbs of Cedarburg and Grafton.  This year, OCMB is also beginning work on several miles of trail in Port Washington’s Upper Lake Park.  Easily accessible from the Interurban rail-trail and just seconds from downtown Port Washington, the trails in Upper Lake Park will offer some of the most varied terrain in Southeastern Wisconsin.  If that’s not enough, you can literally coast downhill to a bar, restaurant, coffee shop, or the beach to relive your adventure and/or nurse your boo-boos.  For more information on these trails and OCMB, click here.

A bit further north in Washington and Sheboygan Counties, the Glacial Edge Area Riding Society (G.E.A.R.S.) club has built and continues to maintain several fantastic trail systems, each with their own unique feel and challenge.  Just off of I-45 in the City of West Bend, Glacial Blue Hills Recreation Area is home to miles of technical singletrack, with more opportunities for fast downhills (and quad-busting climbs) than anywhere else in the area.   It might not be the best place to take newbies, but that should make you want to ride there even more!  G.E.A.R.S. also maintains the New Fane and Greenbush trail systems in the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest.  New Fane, located north of Kewaskum, has over 5 miles of lightning fast trails.  If you feel the need for speed, New Fane is the place to be.  Greenbush, located west of Plymouth, brings more of a technical challenge, with baby-head rocks and constant rolling hills over its 9 miles of trails.  If you’re in the mood for a day of solitude in the deep woods (or an escape from the hot summer sun), Greenbush is for you.  Seek out G.E.A.R.S. on Facebook for more info on these trails and their events.

In the City of Sheboygan, Evergreen and Quarry View Parks are perhaps best known as playing host to the WORS race series’ season finale for the past 10+ years.  Every October, hundreds of racers line up for one last hurrah before hibernation and to try their legs at The Equalizer, a hill so steep it’s basically a hole.  These trails, and the WORS race itself, are all thanks to the Fat Kats Mountain Bike Club, now in their 20th year!  Just like Glacial Blue Hills, Evergreen and Quarry View Parks provide a legitimate option for a great ride in the heart of the city.   Again, log on to Facebook to find more information about Fat Kats and their events.

So get out there and ride more this year – the trails are coming to your backyard!  And don’t forget to supplement your riding with a little trail work.  Helping out your local club will give you a newfound appreciation for what it takes to make mountain biking in Wisconsin possible.  See you on the trails – I’ll be the guy you just passed.

One thought on “Backyard Dirt: Building Local Trails

  1. Excellent! More trails, the better. I’ll make a note to hit some of these up this summer.

    To the south of these, the new trails I’ve been helping Metro/Waukesha Bike Alliance build at Minooka Park in Waukesha are shaping up to be really great trails. One more work day will completely finish the 2nd (4 miles total) intermediate loop. The beginner (1.5 mile) loop is a really fun, fast ride and good for anyone (my 4 year-old loves it). You can ride the intermediate loop now, of course, even thought it’s not 100% (follow the flags). Then, we’re on to building more trails for the next few years – making a significant set of trails with varying difficulty and length.

    And yes, every trail building effort needs volunteers too. Please jump in and help build wherever you can! I’m probably not alone in finding it more rewarding to build new trail than ride.

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