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A Bicyclists Dream Trail: Elroy-Sparta State Trail

The Elroy-Sparta Bicycle Trail is a short drive east of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. It is a family-friendly trail that kid of all ages will appreciate. It had been a few years since my husband and I had ridden the trail and just a few weeks ago, we hopped on our bikes and tackled the trail again. The last time we had been on the trail our boys were teenagers and they are now in their 20’s, so it is fair to say that it had been a few years. With our bikes on the rack on top of the car, we were on our way!

bikes on rack on car

We knew we needed to dress appropriately, as the air outdoors is usually dense and humid in the spring and summer season. The tunnels are dripping with water and cool. This trail was the first rails to trails bicycle trail in the country. If you are a bicycle enthusiast, it is known all across the United States as the trail!

The trail itself is fairly flat, but it does offer rolling hills and scenic bluffs along the route. Depending on where you hop on the trail and how far you want to ride will determine how many tunnels and towns you ride through. We like to hop on the trail near the tunnel that is 3/4 of a mile long. This particular tunnel is located between Norwalk and Sparta. We stumbled on a parking area right off of the highway many years ago and it was fascinating that we were able to find that same parking spot more than 10 years later. What we loved about it, was the fact that our boys knew that a tunnel was right around the corner when they hopped on the trail, which added to their enjoyment. What young boy isn’t intrigued by tunnels, right? In fact, let’s take it one step further, what adult is not intrigued by a tunnel?

Sara on Elroy Sparta Trail

We would also hop on the trail with our boys at Wilton and ride towards Sparta. With two tunnels and two towns, it made for beautiful scenery and two tunnels along the way. Keep in mind, if you start at Wilton and ride through both tunnels, you will turn around after you go through the 2nd tunnel and go back towards Wilton. This will seem like four tunnels to all of you and offer a new view, as you return to your vehicle in Wilton. There are restroom facilities along the trail and a pump to fill your water bottle, near the entrance of the 3/4 mile tunnel when coming from Wilton. This area is also good for picnicking and relaxing with fellow bicyclists along the trail.

Elroy Sparta Trail

When you are planning to ride this bicycle trail you will want to have the following along:

  • flashlight
  • snacks
  • water
  • sweatshirt or raincoat
  • closed shoes (the tunnels are very wet and muddy in places)
  • hat

When you approach one of the tunnels on the trail, it’s important to note that you have to walk your bicycle through the tunnel. At one point in the tunnel that is 3/4 of a mile long, it is total darkness for a couple minutes.

Elroy Sparta Trail

As you continue walking, pushing your bike through the tunnel the light begins to return. As the saying goes, there is light at the end of the tunnel when you ride the Elroy-Sparta Bicycle Trail.


The small towns along the route are bicycle friendly and it’s important to note that restroom facilities are along the trail, but are sparse. When is the last time you hopped on a bicycle and road a rail to trail bicycle trail? I’d love to hear where your favorite trail is.

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Sara is a travel enthusiast that resides in North Iowa. You can find her traveling where the plane, train, ship, or car will go. Are you looking to take a road trip? Sara has solutions for you!

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