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Best Bike Trail in Wisconsin — The 400 State Trail

The 400 State Trail

Looking for a great bike trail in Wisconsin to explore? Look no further than the safe, scenic, and historic 400 State Trail! Considered one of the best bike trails in the region, beginner and avid cyclists will love this fun route that runs through the Baraboo Valley in Central Wisconsin.

We’ve gathered all the essential information you’ll need to know to make your ride a success.

What makes the 400 State Trail so great?

One of the things that makes the 400 Trail so amazing is the scenery. The Baraboo River winds through the countryside and the trail follows its course. Sandstone bluffs, marshes and river views provide multiple opportunities to appreciate nature.

Appreciating nature is all well and good but sometimes you just want to sit down in some air conditioning and check your phone. The 400 State Trail passes through several towns: Reedsburg, La Valle, Wonewoc, Union Center, Tomah and Elroy. Many of these towns have bars and restaurants right off the trail, like the Trail Break Pizza restaurant in La Valle with their Kickstand Patio Bar and the Treasure Mill Antique shop with free tours of their 1903 Water Turbine.

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We recommend giving yourself an entire day to bike the 400 State Trail so you can really enjoy all that it has to offer!

What is the 400 State Trail terrain like?

Built on the abandoned Chicago-Northwestern Railroad bed, the 400 features flat, crushed stone terrain with the overpass bridges covered by smooth wood-planked floors. Overall, it’s an easy trail to navigate by bike and ideal for new cyclists or anyone simply looking for a scenic and relaxing ride.

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Where should I start my bike ride?

The 400 State Trail passes through several Central Wisconsin towns: Reedsburg, La Valle, Wonewoc, Union Center, Tomah and Elroy.

There are places to hop on the trail at each of these towns. However if you’d like to ride the entire 22 miles of trail, consider beginning at the Southern trailhead in Reedsburg or the Northern trailhead in Elroy. These trailheads offer parking, bathrooms, and everything else you’d expect at a State Park.

Please note: You will need to purchase a trail pass to ride the 400 State Trail. Passes are $4.00 a day or $20.00 for an annual pass. Passes can be purchased at both North and South trailheads as well as along the trail at many local stores. Go here to see a full list of vendors selling trail passes.

Check out this map to view the entire trail to see all the trailheads and potential starting points to begin your ride.

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How will I transport my bike(s)?

If you live in or near any of the previous towns mentioned, you can likely easily bike to a trailhead to begin your ride. Check out this map to see if this is the case for you.

If you don’t live nearby, you’ll need a car rack to transport your bike(s) safely and with ease to the trailhead.

We carry a large assortment of car racks including hitch racks, trunk racks, roof racks, and pick-up truck racks.

Check out our Car Rack Buying Guide to discover which type of rack will be best for you, your bikes, and your vehicle.

Equipped with a good car rack, you’ll have no problem traveling to the 400 State Trail or any of the other amazing bike trails in Wisconsin!

What else do I need to bring with me on my bike ride?

There are several important things to bring along on your bike rides to ensure you are safe and comfortable like a bike helmet, water bottle, and bike lights. We’ve compiled a list of all of the essentials which you can see here.

Additionally, check out our blog posts: How to Travel with Your Bike and Tips for Bikepacking for more helpful information on how to bring your bike on your adventures with ease!

Ready to hit the trails? Get turn-by-turn instructions with Ride Spot!

Ride Spot App

Now you have all the basic info you need to go explore the 400 State Trail successfully! To make your ride even easier, we recommend downloading the app Ride Spot.

The Ride Spot App, created by People for Bikes, helps riders discover great routes created by local bike shops, advocacy groups, and other riders. There are three main features for users: 

  • SUPER SIMPLE NAVIGATION: Easily follow routes with on-screen navigation and/or audible turn-by-turn directions. (Get yourself a bike phone holder to keep your hands freed up while riding!)
  • CREATE YOUR RIDE STORY: Add images and comments to any ride to share your personal experiences with friends and other riders.
  • SCAN A RIDE CARDERIK’S has Ride Spot Ride Cards available, free of charge, in-store for customers to take. These Ride Cards feature routes created by ERIK’S Staffers near their shop. Grab a card next time you visit your local ERIK’S and use the in-app scanner to scan the Ride Card to see, save, and navigate the route.

Download the Ride Spot app on your phone and then search and follow any of these ERIK’S Wisconsin Shops. Each of these shop pages feature the 400 State Trail with directions!

  • ERIK’S Bike Shop – Madison 
  • ERIK’S Bike Shop – Milwaukee
  • ERIK’S Bike Shop – Eau Claire 

Learn more about Ride Spot here.

Keep exploring…

If you find yourself wanting more, the 400 connects to many other great trails too.

For example, if you make it all the way to Elroy you can continue on the Elroy-Sparta Trail. This trail features three train tunnels to ride through including one that’s almost a mile long. Headlights are recommended for the Elroy-Sparta Trail because none of the tunnels are illuminated and most curve and are very dark.

Indeed, Elroy is something out of an recreational paradise, offering connections to the aforementioned Elroy-Sparta trail as well as the Juneau County Omaha Trail in addition to being close to 4 State Recreation Areas; Wildcat Mountain, Mill Bluff, Devil’s Lake and Castle Rock.

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We’re here for you!

Stop in to your local ERIK’S today, get geared up, and then get out there and ride the 400 State Trail or one of the many other awesome bike trails in Wisconsin!