Sugar River State Trail

Trail Map

Description Suggest an Edit

If you can't make it to Switzerland do the next best thing: take the Sugar River State Trail to "America's Little Switzerland"—New Glarus, Wisconsin. Settled in 1845 by a small tribe of Swiss pioneers, New Glarus today is a living monument to all things Swiss. Chalet-style buildings line the streets, restaurants dish up savory Swiss fare and a chorus of annual celebrations include Polkafest, the Heidi Festival and Volksfest, which marks the Swiss independence day.

Leaving the accordions and bellowing alphorns behind, hop on the scenic Sugar River State Trail at the restored railroad depot in New Glarus. The 23-mile rail-trail crosses the Little Sugar and the Sugar rivers, and travels gently rolling hills and meadows through the farming communities of Monticello, Albany and Brodhead in the southeast. Less than 0.5 mile into the ride you cross State Route 69. From here, the trail follows the course of the Little Sugar River. Near mile 6, approaching Monticello, you arrive at a brightly painted railroad depot (though it is not open to the public).

Between Monticello and Albany there are five stream crossings with views of scenic farmland. At mile 14, the trail crosses the Sugar River on a long, curving bridge that provides spectacular views of lowlands of cattails and reeds, and woods of oak, hickory, walnut, cherry and willow. In June or July you will get an added treat in the wild raspberries found sporadically along the trail. At mile 21 the trail crosses Norwegian Creek on a replica covered bridge built in 1984 from wood supplied by the DNR from demolished old barns and other buildings in the state.

Arriving in the small farming community of Brodhead, named after Edward Brodhead, who was chief engineer of the Milwaukee and Minnesota Railroad, you can hop off your bike and take in the sights. Be sure to visit the Depot Museum, open in the summer, which chronicles the trail's Milwaukee Road railroad days; and the Half Way Tree, located south of the town, designated by Native Americans as the halfway point between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River.

Cyclists over 16 years of age much have a state trail pass to use this trail. (Note: inline skaters over 16 years old must also have a pass but there is only 1 mile of paved trail.)

Parking and Trail Access

To access the northern end in New Glarus, from just west of the intersection of State Routes 69 and 39 (6thAvenue), head north on Railroad Street 1.5 blocks to the depot on your right.

To access the south end in Brodhead, park at Exchange Street and W. 3rd Street, two blocks west of State Route 11 (Center Avenue). Head north on 3rd Street to the trailhead at Decatur Road.

Parking and access are also available in Monticello and Albany.

Reviews

Pretty Plain

   October, 2013 by cchambers21

Not really that scenic, rode it in the Fall. It was a nice ride, but it was nothing special. The covered bridge was cool, and the trail is pretty straight with easy elevation. Rode from Brodhead to New Glarus and back. read more

From Brodhead

   August, 2013 by isom

It is easy to get on the Sugar River State Trail at Brodhead but just as easy to wind up on an auxiliary trail. Stay on West 3rd Ave from the trail head by the police station and you will run right into the trail when the road dead ends into Decatur Rd. We ...read more

Trail Maintenance Needed

   August, 2013 by eirene16

Biked from Brodhead to Monticello and back 8/24/13. Although there is nothing major wrong with the trail, it's evident that much of the surface has not had any maintenance for a long time. Some nice new-looking packed crushed stone in spots, especially ...read more