Kickapoo Valley Reserve Trail

They say that the Kickapoo River in southwestern Wisconsin is the crookedest river in the state. The mountain bike trails there aren't much straighter. It won't matter though. As with the river, more twists and turns on the trail mean more scenic adventure. The long, tough climbs you'll make will pay off with grand overviews of the valleys. You can even combine land and water adventures in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve; rent a canoe at Rockton, paddle downstream, then hop on your bike and ride the trails back. The 8,569-acre Kickapoo Valley Reserve is one of Wisconsin's newest outdoor recreation properties. In the early 70s, the Army Corps of Engineers planned to dam the Kickapoo River just north of La Farge. Farms in the flood plain were purchased and their buildings removed. But, the dam was never completed. Then, in 2000, the land was turned over to the State of Wisconsin and the Ho-Chunk Nation. The Reserve is now managed for low-impact recreational activities like canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, biking, and outdoor education. The area is also rich in archeological sites which the Ho-Chunk steward. It's easy to understand why everyone treasures this valley. Riding from the south, the off-road section begins at the top of the gigantic earthen levee that was to have dammed the river. From there the trail snakes along, rising and falling on the shoulder of an oak and pine-forested ridge before descending to the river's edge at the site of an old bridge abutment. Leaving the bottomland you tackle one the trail's major climbs; a steep, steady 250-foot ascent to the ridge top. A half-mile roll west along the ridge spine leads to an exciting mile-long descent to the flats of Weister Creek Valley. You'll junction with Cty. P for a fast one-mile run to the next uphill, off-road challenge; a steep 100-foot climb made more difficult by deep eroded gullies. The trail then climbs more gradually before turning south. There you'll enjoy a great valley overview, followed by a descent to a crossing of Indian Creek. From the creek you'll climb a moderate grade through the woods, then roll through fields into Rockton. North of Rockton, an on-road section, a short, easier off-road trail, and an uphill on-road climb take you to the start of the Hay Valley section of trail. There you're in for a steep climb, a drop to a creek crossing and a steep twisting ascent to a ridge top overlook before dropping to the northern end of the trail at Hay Valley Road. From there, you're just a few miles south of beautiful Wildcat Mountain State Park with its scenic lookout over the snaking bends of the Kickapoo River. If you ride the back roads in the area, you'll find yourself in Amish country. Listen for the clip-clop of shod hooves and the rumble of black buggy wheels on quiet country roads. Enjoy all this and more on a roll through the Kickapoo Valley Reserve.

Trail Length (miles)

  • 13.9

Difficulty

  • Hard