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The 400 State Trail travels between Reedsburg and Elroy on 22.3 miles of old Chicago and North Western Railroad line. The trail's curious name has an obvious origin. It is named for the train—Number 400—that traveled 400 miles from Chicago to Minneapolis in 400 minutes.
The trail, which parallels the Baraboo River for its entire run, is really four trails in one. It connects to the Hillsboro, Elroy-Sparta and Omaha state trails for a combined total of 95 miles. With a packed limestone surface, plus 11 bridges crisscrossing the Baraboo, the 400 State Trail provides a smooth, flat riding surface. You will see many bicyclists on this trail, although snowmobiles use it in winter, and there is an adjacent 7-mile equestrian path between Lavalle and Wonewoc.
Start your ride in Reedsburg near the visitor center in the restored railroad depot. Stop here to purchase a trail pass or visit the trail's website for other ticket locations. Reedsburg is known for small-town friendliness and city convenience. There are antique shops galore and all variety of restaurants. Spending the night is easy, too, with hotels and B&Bs, plus a campground if you want to connect with the area's rich natural surroundings.
Wonewoc is the trail's midpoint. A campsite and public rest area make it a great place to stop and take in the wooded scenery. Next is Union Center, with another public rest area and the starting point for the 4-mile Hillsboro Trail. Stay on the 400 State Trail for about another 4 miles to its end and the start of the Elroy-Sparta and Omaha rail-trails at Elroy Commons. After 22 miles of riding, you might want to stay awhile and enjoy this quaint town's public library or museum; eat at one of the local restaurants or visit a specialty shop. You can also stay overnight and rest up for a journey on one of the other scenic rail-trails in this quiet corner of southwestern Wisconsin.
From Milwaukee, take 1-90 to I-94 west to Highway 23 then turn onto Highway 33, which will take you into Reedsburg. Once in Reedsburg, pass four traffic lights and make a left, then go two blocks; the trail head is on your right.
I set out on this trail expecting to go six miles to Lake Redstone and then come back, as the text suggests. But there are NO SIGNS for Lake Redstone on the trail and NO WAY TO GET TO IT via bike trails. I had gone more than two miles past it before I realized this.
As far I can tell, the only way to get to Lake Redstone is to turn off on Highway V, which has no bike lanes and looks very dangerous for bikers. I decided not to bother with it.
Otherwise, the trail is not bad. Very flat and the cross streets are few and far between, except for a few close together right at the beginning.
I would rate the 400 trail as the best of the (4) connecting trails for the natural beauty and ease of ride. I rode the 4 trails on a 3 wheel recumbent which is probably not the best choice for these trails as some have killer potholes due to ground squirrels digging them up. The 400 has abundant wildlife such as Geese, Deer, ducks, squirrels, turtles, snakes and a variety of birds. The bluffs and marshlands are picture worthy scenery.
I rode this trail in mid October as the first part of the four linked trails between Reedsberg and Marshland.
The scenery was good, the trail conditions ok, the crowds nonexistent, and the fall colors, although not spectacular this year, were still very nice.
I recommend Hillsboro for an overnight stop. It is only 4 miles off the 400 trail on a side trail so no streets or traffic. The Hotel Hillsboro was bike friendly.
We did get some prevailing headwind, so you could consider riding the other direction (Marshland to Reedsberg) in the fall.
I just rode the 400 several times this week. I started in Hillsboro and rode the trail north to the Omaha Trail one day and then south to Reedsburg the next. The trail is taken well care of and is flat. Other than being 22 miles long, there is nothing demanding about the ride. I rode early and saw no one before 9am on the path. There are a few nice views of the river but for the most part it is a tree lined path without a lot to look at. Don't get me wrong, I like the path but it doesn't change much over the 44 miles if you ride from one end to another. The Reedsburg trail end was a bit disappointing. The train depot was closed so no bathrooms or water was available. Also don't expect much in the way of signs - they just don't exist or I just missed them. There was some roadway construction at both ends. The other end is in Elroy and again the store there was closed. They did however have water and an open bathroom. The 400 is one of six paths in the area (counting the Hillsboro as a path). I rode five of the six in three days but bad weather stopped me from riding the last one. I chose a 29er for my rides which is overkill but I am glad I did just for the comfort and the few pot holes I ended up hitting. A good cyclocross bike or hybrid would be fine. The path can be ridden on a road bike but it would not be as enjoyable. There are patches of sand that can be annoying if you hit them at speed. For some reason, someone had the idea to put sand in place of the path when it crossed a road. If this was done to slow people down before crossing a roadway - it was real dumb. Overall it was a fine path to take. If your in the area hit all six, it will make you rides / trip more enjoyable.
We went out this past Saturday. We rode from Reedsburg to LaValle with 6 kids under 16. The trail & weather were beautiful. This was an easy ride for all in our group.
400 Trail is very well taken care of - we've rode several of the other trails in the area and 400 was in perfect condition!
Rode the 400 trail in July 2013. Started in Reedsburg and road to Elroy. Due to a lot of recent rain the trail was soft. We had taken road
bikes which made the ride a bit more difficult.
Should have taken my mountain bike. The wider tires would have made the ride more pleasant.
All in all it was a great ride and well worth the
1700 round trip.
I rode this trail last weekend. I was pleasantly surprised to find the trail in good shape. The ride from Reedsburg to Elroy was sprinkled with bike friendly towns and is mostly shaded. The trailhead in Reedsburg is a lovely old train depot, but is not the easiest to locate. Al in all, a great flat ride and one I would do again, especially in the fall, where I bet the colors are awesome!
I've biked this trail from Reedsburg to Union Center and then taken the extension to Hillsboro. I've also traversed the trail from Elroy to Reedsburg. This is a well-maintained, level trail that offers plenty of scenic beauty and periodic small town to get a cold drink, snack, or meal. As a side note, this August, I biked from Hillsboro to Wildcat Mountain State Park, a 13 mile trip on a black topped highway. The surface was smooth, the scenery beautiful, but the hills were tough--especially with a bike loaded with camping gear. I don't know if I would do it again!
I rode this trail a couple of days ago. From Reedsburg to Union Center. It is really nice. It is a rail trail so it is very level and straight as a gun shot. There was a lot of rain several days before I rode. The trail was dampish (a little slow under wheel)but not soggy anywhere. No standing puddles at all. The bridge planking is rough because of all the snowmobile use in the winter but not bad. There are great towns along the way like Elroy-Sparta before WalMart ruined Sparta. Lots of small local business all very welcoming all cyclists. I saw about 30 Blue Jays while riding.
After hanging out at the Wisconsin Dells Riverfest kayak races all morning, we decided to head over to Reedsburg to ride the 400 Bike Trail to LaValle and back(approx 16 miles). Usually, it's still too wet this time of year for comfortable riding, but it has been extremely dry lately, so we gave it a shot. Glad we did, it was great riding. Our old friends, a pair of nesting Eagles, were sitting on eggs in a rebuilt nest, and we found a crane nesting just 20 or so feet off the trail! We were careful not to stress her out. The first wildflowers were starting to rock out, but it's still too early for the Trilliums & such. The grocery store/butcher shop in LaValle has a nifty little ice cream shop for replenishing your energy for the trip back to Reedsburg.
I rode this 22 mile trail in August and October of 2008 with my scorpion Fx recumbent trike starting at the Commons in Elroy where you can also begin the Sparta-Elroy trail and the Omaha Trail to Camp Douglas. This trail is composed of crushed limestone, and easy to ride with it's perfectly flat surface. I enjoyed the views of the distant bluffs, and the x-crossing of the Baraboo River over the old wooden plank bridges. The bridge to the South of Wonewac was still out because of torrential rains we had here in early June, so this was as far as I was able to ride. It was about 12 miles from the commons to the washed out bridge. Just after crossing Hwy. 33 in Union Center you'll get to the branch of the 4 mile Hillsboro Trail which parallels Branch Creek through mostly woods, and some open meadows. Thnis trail is worth the extra miles.
I would highly recommend this trail for it's scenic beauty, and easy ride.
We rode this trail on Sept 23rd during a period of great weather. The trail is very flat and very well maintained. Part of the trail was and is closed due to some bridge damage caused by some recent flooding. The trail goes through the Baraboo river valley and is covered with a tree canopy about 50% of the time. There were all types of birds along the the trail. For us the highlight was a beautiful large bald eagle only 50-100 feet off the trail in an old snag. It sat there long enough for us to get numerous shots at it, with our camera of course. There are places to eat, rst areas, and water along the trail. Go ride this trail for sure, BUT call ahead for details of the short trail closure.
"Started ride in Reedsburg at 1pm on a hot Friday afternoon
in July 05. Due to weekday at times went for 2-3 miles
without seeing anyone. The trail was packed well and easy
riding. All the towns along the way was neat and plenty
of rest stops with bathrooms and water. Biked all the way
to Elroy. The commons there had a store where you could buy water, sodas, snacks,ice cream bars ect. On the ride back I stopped in La Valle and had a burger and soda at the resturant along the trail. Total ride was 44 miles round trip with a
pedal time of 3hours 20min. Back to Reedsburg at 5:15pm. The scenery on this trail is great. This trail is well
worth the ride.
"Our ride report, including photos, can be found at www.great-trails.com/state.shtml"
"The 400 trail has a little more character than the Omaha Trail(although the Omaha has a tunnel). There are quite a few small towns along the trail, so you really can carry the minimum in supplies. Also the grades are not demanding at all."
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