Merrimac Ferry Tour

If you're ready to take on the tough cycling terrain on this tour you'll be rewarded with some of the most outstanding scenery in Wisconsin.Do you think you can climb more than half a mile on your bike? Ride all 45 miles of this tour and you'll pedal up 2,944 vertical feet. The 26-mile northern loop has the lion's share with 1,827 feet. That's where you'll cross the Baraboo Range - the remnant core of an ancient mountain - twice. Blessedly, one of the crossings will be through the gap at Devil's Lake State Park where you'll enjoy some of the best scenery east of the Rockies. Of course, what goes up must come down; there's more than a half-mile of thrilling downhill riding too. The southern loop will be a bit easier on your legs, but there's not much flat road until you near the pleasant town of Lodi. Along the way you'll have a great view of Gibraltar Rock, a sandstone monolith popular with area climbers. You may even spot ant-like climbers working their way across the rock's Amphitheater Wall or up the Rhombus Head. With a variety of eating options and a pleasant main street, Lodi makes a good rest stop. You'll cross the Wisconsin River aboard the Merrimac Ferry, in operation since 1848. The ride is free. The ferryboat is the ColSac III, named for the counties on either side of the river - Columbia and Sauk. While cars and trucks queue up and may have to wait several trips for the 5-minute crossing, there is always room for bikes and pedestrians. If you need a sugar boost, there's an ice cream stand on either shore. The real nasty grades are on the northern loop. If you ride it clockwise, you'll face a half-mile climb as you leave Devil's Lake on a twisting 8% slope. Circling the other direction you'll pedal up for 2.5 miles and climb 650 feet at an average grade of more than 5%. The first half-mile from the entrance to Devil's Head Resort is a whopping 10% pitch. These are the sorts of grades you'd find in the Alps!


  • On Water

Trail Length (miles)

  • 45

Snowboarding Difficulty Rating

  • Hard
  • Medium