Bicycling Boulder Junction

The 23 miles of paved trail between Boulder Junction and St. Germain passes through the Highlands State Forest campgrounds and Trout Lake, one of my favorite campgrounds/beaches in Wisconsin.

It is not unusual me to have sore muscles after I get back from a 50 mile bike ride, but it was my smile muscles, not my quads that were tired after I rode the paved trails through Wisconsin’s beautiful Northwoods from Boulder Junction to St. Germain.  My family and I took an all-too-short vacation to Boulder Junction earlier in August and were blown away by how much the Musky Capital of the World has turned into a bicycling mecca.

Be sure to stop at Coontail Too Bicycles for the dirt on local trail conditions. They can outfit you with a bike or any gear you may have forgotten as well as advise you on which trails fit your skill levels, recent logging activity, etc.

Since our last vacation in the area about 8 years ago, this gorgeous section of northern Wisconsin has been transformed from a nice place to relax and fish into one of the top bicycling areas in the state.  Although the lakes and fishing remain mainstays of tourism, the combination of smooth, low traffic roads, miles of off-road paved trails and rugged single track through the woods have drawn a new crop of tourists with as many bike racks as fishing boats.

As soon as we turned left off County Highway K, I was struck by the number of bike racks on cars and bikes parked outside the quaint shops and cafes on Boulder Junction’s Main Street.  If I didn’t know better, I could have been in Boulder, Colorado, instead of a tiny town in northern Wisconsin.

These bikes are all parked outside the Outdoorsman Restaurant. You may want to cook up your freshly caught walleyes for dinner, but should definitely enjoy at least one meal at this gourmet eatery. We spoiled ourselves and ate breakfast there every day, so I can personally I recommend the corned beef hash.

Probably the main attraction in the area is the network of paved trails that connect Boulder Junction with Sayner and St. Germain.  At a bit over 23 miles, you can ride the fun rolling paved trails between all three towns without worrying about motor vehicle traffic.  This makes them ideal for families with small kids.  The trails also offer many possible rest stops as they pass by beaches, campgrounds, stores and cafes.

The roads with paved shoulders around Boulder Junction offer an opportunity for the go-fast crowd (24mph ain't bad) to stretch their legs and take in the beauty of the Northwoods on two wheels.

Shredding the Northwoods on my Milwaukee 29er.

If you prefer to ride mountain bikes, there are quite a few trails in the general area.  You can find many systems on the mountain bike map here.  The State bicycle map also has the MTB trail heads on it, but I suggest you stop at Coontail Sports, the local bike shop and ask

Showing my appreciation for the fun I had on the Razor Ridge MTB Trails near Saynor.

for some advice.  Mountain bike trails vary greatly, from technical singletrack to grassy ski trails.  The folks at Coontail Too Bicycles have maps and the local knowledge to help you pick just the right trail for you.

Sadly I did not have time to ride any of the Presque Isle Pomeroy-Henry Trails, which offer more than one hundred miles of gravel forest roads.  I love riding rolling gravel roads in the woods.  They offer a nice compromise between the ease of paved trails and the concentration  needed to ride mountain bike trails.

These are no straight as an arrow, flat as a pancake rail trails. The family friendly paved trails wind through forests, over hills and past lakes

I'll take a Muskey Mocha, but hold the WiFi, this is vacation after all...

The big woods of northern Wisconsin can make a person feel small sometimes.

My wife Liz is a keeper, the fish we gotta let go.

With 194 lakes within 10 miles of the town, you will still find as many Shimano reels as you will derailleurs.  By all means plan a bicycle vacation there, but you will definitely want to make it a multi-modal trip and spend some time trolling with your J-ll Jointed Rapalas or just soaking worms off the end of your St. Croix rod.  When we were in town there was a 37 inch Musky behind the glass in the cooler on Main St. and photos of a 47 incher that someone caught and released.

I spoke with a member of the area trails council, and he told me that St. Germain is completing construction on an eastern extension of their trail this year, and there are plans to build an additional 4.5 miles in 2012, going both north and west of Boulder Junction. That means there will soon be approximately 40 miles of paved off-road trails, with additional expansion in the long range plan to link communities and their respective trail systems.

As we drove south and back to the reality of our lives, we all took an oath not to wait another eight years to visit Boulder Junction again. I can hardly wait to go back Up North!

The beauty and solitude of Wisconsin's Northwoods in the morning will take your breath away.

About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
This entry was posted in Rides and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bicycling Boulder Junction

  1. Mark Swartwout says:

    Sounds nice. Gotta love that the Boulder Junction web site has a picture of two cyclists at the top.

  2. hopp says:

    when did u get the MKE 29er? post a picture, please!

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