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Barron County is at the northwest corner of Wisconsin's crescent-shaped Central Plain, where the state's fertile farmland butts up against the tall trees and lakes of the Northwoods. In fact, as you ride north on this loop you can see the wooded silhouette of the Blue Hills in the distance. People who live in Chetek don't have to travel far to the lake; the town is built on a chain of six lakes covering 3,764 acres with 120 miles of shoreline. Waterfowl love the lake; chevrons of migrating birds fill the sky in spring and fall. Pulling a perch or northern pike from these waters has always been a popular pastime for people, eagles and osprey. Southworth Memorial Park just 3.5 miles southeast of Chetek is a good starting point for your ride. The park offers a boat ramp, campsites and a picnic shelter. The tour route rolls south through easy-pedaling farmland. But the "easy" ends on Lundquist Hill Road. This saw tooth profile of four steep 100-foot climbs is a fine test of your fitness. Five west-flowing tributaries of the Red Cedar River form the low points. When you get to the tiny village of Sand Creek you may be ready for a break at its namesake cafe. The little eatery is a culinary trip back in time. Local people say it hasn't changed since the '50s. Heading east on County M you'll quickly cross into Chippewa County. County M parallels the flow of Sand Creek all the way to New Auburn, a pleasant ten miles through farm fields and wood lots. New Auburn boasts its own hometown cafe'; stop in for a brief respite from the bike seat.
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