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The Buffalo River State Trail connects the towns of Fairchild and Mondovi along US 10 in scenic central Wisconsin. Although the rail-trail closely follows the Buffalo River, the winding waterway is mostly obscured by the dense woodlands, hills and wetlands that contribute to the area’s beauty.
The region was once home to a large population of bison—hence the river’s name. Now the communities of Eleva, Strum and Osseo dot the trail’s route, offering small town charm and places to rest.
Trail users should be aware that all horseback riders and cyclists age 16 or older need a Wisconsin state trail pass to use the trail.
Parking for the Buffalo River State Trail is available at the southern end of Marten Street in Mondovi and off North Street in Fairchild.
I have to confess I didn't do much research ahead of time for trail conditions and usage. So I was a bit surprised when I discovered it was a atv/utv trail. I started in Fairchild and everything looked promising. A nice firm trail surface, little to no traffic, beautiful landscape...until I hit the quick sand. Well, that's what it felt like on my gravel bike. Maybe 5 miles into my ride the trail went from nice hard packed to loose sand where I could not pedal. I bailed onto the adjacent paved road and considered quitting for the day. However the road I jumped onto paralleled the trail so I decided to explore a little. This worked out very well as I continued West on the paved country road until I hit a trail crossing where I was happy to discover the trail was back to a firm surface. I stayed on the trail all the way to Strum (20 miles?) where I turned back and started making stops at the local food and drink establishments I had passed along the way.
Overall the trail was mostly firm and great for my gravel bike. A couple sections in the open heat were dry and loose but rideable. I noticed many a paved country road that paralleled the trail so there were options out. The motorized users I encountered were all very polite and slowed down when passing.
Some of my Favorite stops included: Northwoods Brewpub in Osseo, the Tin Tiki at Trails End near Price and Blooms Country Inn in Price.
3 Stars for excellent conditions at times. A unique adventure on a well maintained surface. One local told me they grade and care fore trail system quite regularly so you don't see giant mud holes or bumpy washboard sections. And I can verify that.
Unfortunately this trail is way too sandy. Having biked from Eleva to Osseo, this part of the trail, so I make the assumption of the rest is not for bike riding. It is however a beautiful trail, just not an enjoyable bike riding experience, more like a trudging through sand, it seems to be used by ATVs, which for them is a great trail !
August 2016, I attempted to ride my bike between Mondovi and Eleva and the trail was simply too sandy. My hybrid tires sank a few inches on the trail for long streches The Mondovi trailhead portion was extremely rough. I wanted to give the trail another try so I traveled to Eleva. traveling west of the town was impossible on my bike. Traveling east was doable however there were a few soft patches along the way. Between Strum and Osseo, near a bridge, I hit a hole, on the trail, which causes me to wipe out and crack some ribs. Please be careful on this trail as it is also shared with ATVs travelling at much higher speeds.
This trail is NOT for bicycles - it has been used almost exclusively by ATV's and snowmobiles and is not maintained for bicycle use. The dirt or base is deep and heavy - a huge disappointment! There are also dog sled teams training on this trail - so it's full of dog poop. Wouldn't call this a bicycle trail by ANY stretch of the imagination.
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