Bugline Trail (Route of the Badger)


45 Reviews

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Bugline Trail (Route of the Badger) Facts

States: Wisconsin
Counties: Waukesha
Length: 17.42 miles
Trail end points: Hartman Rd. (Hartland) and Water St. (Menomonee Falls)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6017409

Bugline Trail (Route of the Badger) Description


Broad blue skies strung with white cloud wisps; gem-green fields harboring cattails and butterflies; canopied glens giving way to cavernous quarries. It's all part of the ride on the 17.42-mile Bugline Recreation Trail in and around Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, just 20 miles northwest of Milwaukee. The trail is fully paved end-to-end.

About the Route

The western end of the Bugline Trail leaves off from the small town of North Lake, where it also crosses the National Ice Age Scenic Trail. From here, the trail heads east and passes through Merton Pollworth and Fireman's Parks. 

An active railroad runs adjacent to the trail through several miles of prairie and farmland. Keep a lookout for gopher holes at the edge of the trail; they can make for a suddenly bumpy ride. The view here is of peaceful farmland and small prairies of Joe-Pye weed, sunflowers, and swamp thistle. Red barns and silver silos dot the landscape. When a light breeze gathers over the fields, it carries the quintessential country aroma of wildflowers and farm animals.

Just past Sussex, there is a short rail-trail spur that leads to Menomonee Park, the site of the stone quarrying that was this area's significant industry from 1880 to 1900. Today, remnants from that time remain in Menomonee Park, including an old stone crusher and a public swimming beach at the now-flooded quarry. Before reaching Menomonee Falls, the trail dips into a forest of forked burr oak and linden trees.

The trail comes to its eastern end in a tranquil residential area of Menomonee Falls. Residents in one-story ramblers have fashioned makeshift trail-access points all along the Bugline, and you'll be sharing the trail with local walkers, hikers, bikers, and runners who flock to this recreation corridor.


The Bugline Trail is part of the Route of the Badger, a developing trail network in Greater Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  

Parking and Trail Access

The Bugline Trail runs between Hartman Rd. (Hartland) and Water St. (Menomonee Falls), where parking is available.

Parking is also available at:

  • Lannon Village Park, 7461 N Lannon Rd (Lannon)

Please see TrailLink Map for all parking options and detailed directions.

Bugline Trail (Route of the Badger) Reviews

Does it require entrance parking permit

We are planning to visit there and does it require parking permit?? Where is best place to park?

Excellent trail ride

trail is in perfect condition and while there were a fair number of users, it was never crowded or congested on this saturday morning. It was a joy to ride roundtrip from menomonee falls to north lake. The only steep hill is in merton just east of dorn road. The small towns of sussex and lannon have some taverns that look interesting. Menomonee park above the north part of the trail just west of lannon road is worth a visit.

Super Nice

Trail was pretty awesome. The quarry is so worth it. Go on a sunny day for sure. Mostly shaded. See lots of different scenery. It is quite busy though..go early.

July Ride 2022

Great ride today. Well maintained trail. Nice shade. Enjoyed the coffee shop in Sussex. We rode the entire trail and really enjoyed it.


We started this trail out at merton firemans park, and went east to the falls, trail is all paved, beautiful scenery, goes under 164, nice woods, great view of the quarry, great ride

We started this trail out at merton firemans park, and went east to the falls, trail is all paved, beautiful scenery, goes under 164, nice woods, great view of the quarry, great ride


This trail is primarily for mom's with strollers and their dog(s); and children learning to bike (and adults learning to bike, too). So if you want to bike at 5 MPH or walk at a slow pace, then this trail will work for you. But if you want to gain any momentum, this trail is not that. You have to slow down or stop a lot and noticed newbies don't know what "passing left" trail etiquette means.

One of my favorites!

I have to say this is one of my favorite paved asphalt trails that I have ridden. It is extremely well maintained and smooth. It is well marked with signage and mike markers. It travels though a mix of suburbia and countryside. There is a great view looking down on a very deep limestone quarry with beautiful aqua colored water in the bottom. I parked at Merton’s Firemen park close to the west end of the trail. Plenty of parking right on the trail . They have restrooms which were closed (probably due to Covid) but they have a port-a-potty set up. I rode to Menomonee Falls on the east end of the trail. There are numerous street crossings but drivers were extremely courteous and most of them actually stopped to let me crossing so I didn’t have to wait. There was a mixture of people out on the trail trail. Walkers, bikers, runners, and dogs. Everyone seems to show respect for other users. I highly recommend this trail!

One of the most well-maintained trails in Milwaukee metropolitan area

well-maintained paved trail with beautiful sceneries. Always enjoying to ride.

My first ride on this beautiful trail from Menomonee Park to Merton & back today on my recumbent trike. It is paved and mostly in the trees. I enjoyed the ride. 11-21-2020

My first ride on this beautiful trail from Menomonee Park to Merton & back today on my recumbent trike. It is paved and mostly in the trees. I enjoyed the ride. 11-21-2020

Bugline Trail-Enjoyed my ride

Today was my first ride on the Bugline. It is completely paved and well maintained. Parts of the trail are "rail-trail" and some are not. I lost my way several times as sidewalks are part of the trail through a couple of the towns. There are some longer sections through wooded areas, which are beautiful. I also drove by a quarry with a really blue lake, which was unexpected. As opposed to the relatively gradual grade of Rail-Trails, this one has some hills in it; one was relatively steep, but small.

I began my ride in Menomonee Falls, and the trail end is just east of North Lake. There is really nothing at the end of the trail but a driveway into a logging outfit.

Overall, I really did enjoy my ride, and would do it again!

Very beautiful trail for biking with family.

Very beautiful trail for biking with family.

The Bugline is a sweet little trail NE of Milwaukee

Here a great R2T for those in SE Wisconsin! The Bugline Trail, just NW of Milwaukee. Oddly named, but a sweet trail. I started in Merton, rode to Menomonee Falls and back. 26 miles round trip, all paved. A great mix of woods, open areas, and some developed areas. There are several little towns along the trail (Merton, Sussex, Lannon, Menomonee Falls) where you can pick up snacks if needed.

As it passes thru Lannon, WI -- which provided the limestone that built much of Milwaukee -- you will see lots of quarry lakes, including one that is just shockingly blue!

If you are in the area, give it a try!

beautiful ride

EAsiest 20 miles we’ve ridden yet. All paved and beautiful. Stopped in Sussex and had lunch. One of our favorite trials

A great trail

A great trail, very pretty even on the in-city parts riding through the woods. There's plenty of shade and the paved surface is great for my recumbent trike. The trail is well marked and drivers were super courteous about stopping when I needed to cross. I stopped and had a nice swim at Menomonee Park


In town for a tri and rode the trail this morning. It’s really nice and well marked. I forgot I had ridden it once before years ago until I came across the quarry with the most beautiful blue water.

Nice trail

Nice trail. Paved. Green tunnels. Pleasant even on a hot July mid-day. Lots of busy road crossings. 99% cars stopped for crossing, but never sure about that other 1%. DH and I ride a tandem recumbent trike with a wide turn radium and many corners were not wide enough for us in one pass.

great trail

Great trail,I have ridden it many times over the past two years.The only problem when you ride is the pedestrians who won't share the trail,and stay to the right so you can pass them.Some people are selfish.There is nothing hard about being considerate.Many people use the trail,it must be shared.


Live near the Bugline so ride it often but have seen a change since asphalt was laid. Some riders think they training for the Olympics and can be dangerous for Walkers.

Excellent bike trail, but poorly marked for directions

I rode this trail more than 25 years ago, and its even better now. It's a well-kept, smooth blacktop trail that runs through woods, small towns and scenic woodlands. But it's biggest flaw is the lack of directional signs. With many crossroads running diagonally, rather than east-west, north-south, it's easy to get confused. Just a few signs saying something like "4 miles to Sussex" would make all the difference. The short spur trail to Menomonee Park just outside of Lannon is well worth the trip. There they have a large map of the Bugline trail. It's the only one I saw on the trail giving any directions. There's even a free air station for bikes in the park. Just add some directional signs, and this would be a first class bike trail.

It's Miller Time - thanks to the Bugline, my waist is down 3 inches

Started this summer at the Custer Lane parking lot (4 cars max). Walked to the Meno Falls starting point, then walked back and then south down the trail and back to the car. Played leapfrog like this all the way to Merton and the newest extension to the end.
Man, I feel so much more physically fit, look better & clothes fit much better too. And it's only costing me gas money and time. What a bargain.
I could have biked, but wanted to take pics and enjoy myself instead of racing through the trail. No fun in that. Thanks Bugline for the memories.

Nice Trail

We had a great time on this trail. Everyone we met said hi and were very courteous. We ride around Madison quite often and get run off by racers all the time and no one ever says Hi. The trail is paved and very well maintained.

The Name Is A Misnomer

Firstly, the Bugline trail is not any "buggier" than any other SE Wisconsin trail. The name is a misnomer. I've logged hundreds of miles on this beautiful trail and it is indeed one of my favorites. There is a wide variety of topography some rural a little urban (small town urban) and lots of woodland. It is a rail-trail so the grade is essentially flat with one or two short hills. The trail begins in Menomonee Falls and heads west almost to North Lake with the new extension. The trail is in fabulous shape and is entirely smooth asphalt. There are some road crossings to be careful of but I find drivers very courteous by stopping especially in Sussex. There are numerous parks along the entire 16 miles and a variety of restaurants less than a block off trail. I find no matter what time I ride, the trail is never crowded. Plenty of wildlife to be seen as well. The largest white tail deer I've ever seen in the wild crossed my path one afternoon. Parking on the west end is on a rural street and the trail head is a bit obscure. The trail intersects Fireman's Park in Merton, and there are plenty of other areas in Sussex and Menomonee Falls to park. Very enjoyable in any season although it does not get plowed in winter.

Extension from Merton to North Lake now paved

The Bugline is now 16 miles of paved trail with the extension to North Lake completed.

Great Trail!

We recently biked this trail from North Lake to Menomonee Falls and back to North Lake. Great trail that is well maintained but with many crossroads which you have to be very careful crossing, ie watch for traffic. One section in Sussex at a busy intersection the trail was difficult to follow for lack of signs but, with the map, I was able to figure it out. We dubbed the section from North Lake to Sussex with the name "Chipmunk Trail" because there were so many of those critters running across it. This trail starts at North Lake which is a 10-minute drive from our house so will be a regular for us.

Bugline Bike Trail

Very nice trail.It doesn't have many hills.There are roads to cross and a few are busy.It has many shaded parts which helps.Benches every mile if you need to rest.Great for biking and walking.

great trail!

Such a clean and well kept trail!

June 22, 2016 Squashed the Bugline trail

1st time out on the Buglline trail. Road end to end just over 33 miles. The trail is in Great condition other than a number of road crossing, no complaints. Do have to question the start / trail head in Menominee Falls. It's about a half mile ride before you get dumped into a subdivision. Why not just move the trail head

Just what I was looking for

I just tried this trail this morning.It was a perfect day for a ride,sunny and comfortable.I was with someone who limited me a bit,so we only went out 6 miles and then turned around and came back.I can't believe how nice it was.The majority of it was cut out of the woods.It was beautiful,just what I was looking for.I will be back to go farther to see more.

Bugline Trail

Rode the trail on May 20, 2016. The trail was all asphalt, well maintained (one detour clearly marked) and easy to follow. Flat grade except for the big hill at the end (west end of Merton). Trans-versing residential and countryside, you ride on the outskirts of Merton, Sussex and Menominee Falls, through limestone quarries, woods and marshland. We saw deer, cranes, turkeys, birds and a snake on the ride. We passed many trail walkers, riders and skaters all were very pleasant. I ride a recumbent Trike, my husband a road bike.

The only negative is the amount of highways you cross. The positive to the highway crossings are the drivers, who generally stopped to let you pass. Polite drivers always a plus!

First ride on Bugline

An absolutely beautiful trail to ride. We were only able to ride 8 miles to Sussex the morning we did it. Weather was perfect, low 50s to start and gradually got into the mid-60s. There's a few quarries along the way which is pretty interesting to stop and look at. Streams along the route, bridges, just a great ride. We'll be back soon to ride the entire trail.

Regarding parking, we started on the east end of the trail. We parked where the previous poster parked, on Grand Ave. A little strange in that people in the apartments across from the trail were standing there watching us like we were doing something really weird. After crossing 2 busy streets and seeing a parking lot (Applewood Mall Shopping Center, Appleton & Shady Lane) near another trailhead I went and moved my truck to the parking lot. Much safer because we never had to cross another really busy street. We noticed people also parked on Roosevelt Drive on the other side of the mall and a senior ling facility. You lose about 1/4 mile of the trail staring there but it's a good spot to park.

Beautiful Fall Scenery, Menomonee Falls to past Fireman's park in Merton

We rode this yesterday. Beautiful fall scenery. Very smooth and paved. A bit chilly, mostly sunny and about 50F.

We parked our truck in a residential neighborhood on Grand Ave between Pershing Ave and Laurel Lane in Menomonee Falls. This first short segment of trail ends at Apple Tree Court. You then take Apple Tree Court to stop sign and make a left at Shady Lane. You cross an intersection with traffic light before getting back onto Bugline trail. Shady lane is quite a busy street. You may want to skip this first segment.

The next area to be cautious is where the Bugline trail crosses Maple Road. The cars turning onto Maple Road from Main Street go quite fast and they may not see you until after they make their turn. This is more of a problem heading north into Menomonee Falls than going south. Also Main Street in this area can be challenging to cross as the cars are going pretty fast. It would probably be better to start trail south of this area if you have kids with you.

The rest of the trail was very relaxing and pleasant.

Sussex is a great town to ride the Bugline Trail through. The crossings were well marked and the car drivers were very polite and nice.

We were very surprised to see the trail extending past Fireman's Park in Merton. Our bugline trail map only went to Merton. The trail was paved all the way to Dorn Road and possibly beyond. Perhaps the trail is now complete to Hartman Road. We ran out of time to check it out. This extension of the trail does not appear on google maps but I found a construction phasing map at http://www.correinc.com/html/pj/bg/buglinetrail.html that showed a planned extension of trail to Hartman Road.

Bugline First Ride

This was my first time riding the Bugline...and it will definitely not be my last. This trail is what other trails aspire to. Smooth and well maintained with a variety of interesting things to see. Marshlands, woodlands, rock quarries, and the occasional road crossing to keep you on your toes.
The entire trail is asphalt with some sections containing a fine crushed rock side walk-way....I suppose for the anti-asphalt crowd..if there is such a thing.
If you're looking for a bump-free ride then this is the trail for you. get out early if you want to go fast as this trail has been discovered by bikers, hikers, walkers, and talkers..and even a few gawkers stopping to take pictures.

Updated info.

Rode the trail yesterday, April 28, 2015. Entire trail is paved. Post Office in East end in Menomonee Falls has been closed for years - is now a Fast Signs business. About 12 miles out to Merton - trail runs through Sussex.

first rate trail

If it had a trail head/parking area in M.F. I would rate it 5 stars. The small quarries along the route were picture perfect. Liked the trees along the route. It even has a crushed stone shoulder along much of the trail for the anti asphalt people. Lots of new and young families on the trail.

My favorite trail in Waukesha County

I'm happy that the trail is now paved end-to-end. They did a nice job. I love this trail because of all the varied nature. I find it very peaceful and scenic. On windy days, you are mostly protected due to the trees and brush on the sides of the trail. If you want a longer ride (28 miles) take it from one end to the other and back. If you want a shorter ride, start in Sussex (midpoint) and take it either direction.

too bad they ruined this trail by paving it!

This would be a nice trail, but it is paved! I don't know why the waste of money on paving instead of putting it into new trails.Paving the trails makes them feel less like you are out in the country.

Great Trail!

Wonderful trail, especially as you pull away from Menomonee Falls. Long stretches of pavement with little distraction. Very enjoyable!

Quiet, Interesting, Enjoyable

9/21/13 - We have not been on a lot of trails, so when we rate 4 stars, we are comparing this to the Glacial Drumlin around Waukesha/Wales/Dousman and Lake Country Recreation Trail around Delafield/Oconomowoc. We rode from Merton to Menomonee Falls - the full 24-miles. They've prepared the first part in Merton where there's an old church parking lot for paving, so it was very wide but compacted gravel. A little harder to ride on than the rest of the trail but still fine with our hybrid bikes. In fact, there's a "trail closed" sign but we rode anyway. I will actually be sad if the whole trail gets paved, because the rest of it was very smooth with an outdoor feel.

We felt the landscape varied enough to keep our interest and enjoyed passing the quarries. The trail was wooded w/shady trees, but also some open spaces with pretty landscape. Saw a few wild turkeys in the field and the trees are just turning colors for the fall. Nice, new wooden bridges - quite a few spots where you ride over trickling waters. Although it's not far from any towns, it was pretty quiet. Sussex was busy on a Saturday around lunch time, but a great spot for bathroom stops. There was a slight detour in Sussex where we got confused, but not for long. Also passed a bowling alley close to MFalls where you should take a break. We were disappointed at the end in MFalls -- there weren't any bathroom stops RIGHT there. Would be a great spot for a cafe of some sort.

The trail was flat for the most part with subtle hills. A great workout to ride the full 24 miles (12 miles there, 12 miles back). There was a sports bar in Merton that was probably a great spot once we finished, but we chose to cool off and drive to downtown Hartland - enjoyed our food at Endters sports bar/restaurant. Hope you get to enjoy the Bugline -- we did!

Great trail w/ lots of wildlife!

Had a great ride on the bugline trail. Parked in Sussex and completed the trail in both directions. Nice tree cover kept me dry during a light rain. Saw 3 turkeys 1 deer and 1,000,000 gnats! Still a good ride!

Best Trail in Menomonee Falls

It's a very relaxing ride-can stop at Lannon Park along the way or go to Sussex-Merton. Parks in Lisbon, Merton,also. Best trial around & it will be paved starting this year.

Terrific trail for all users

We just rode the length of the Bugline on Sunday, so there were many people using it, including families. It's in terrific condition and easy for all bike types. We got on the trail in Merton but didn't stop at the coffee shop, but really like that the church at trail's end was converted for its use. It was good to see where Lannon stone comes from as we passed the quarry. Even with the high usage, the trail was not congested. The surface is kept well maintained. Even though you are going through Sussex and Lannon, the trail is isolated enough to feel as though you are riding in the country. It's very enjoyable.

Pleasant ride

We chose to start in the middle of the trail at Sussex - parking is available on Main St (74) and rode to Merton - packed dirt and stone with many shady areas. Do continue on in the Merton Fireman's Park as it is paved and winds nicely through a woods behind a subdivision. When we returned to Sussex, we continued on toward Lannon and took the left fork to Menomonee Park. There are new restroom facilities there and a wonderful small lake with a beach. Although we prefer paved trails, we actually enjoyed this trail very much - it was smooth riding with our hybrid bikes.

Residential and Rural setting

I rode this trail on October 20th with my Scorpion Fx Recumbent trike. It was a beautiful fall day, and was perfect for biking with a temperature around 65 degrees.
The surface is basically smooth crushed gravel, but it had rained a few days before leaving some areas muddy and rough.
The trail is approximately 12.5 miles between the village of Merton and the town of Menomonee Falls. I parked in Merton since the trail head is much easier to find than in Menomonee Falls. You'll find the trail head, and a small parking area, right on Hwy. VV.
About 2-3 miles down the trail you'll cross over the Bark River on a wooden plank bridge, and arrive at Mill Pond. You might want to stop here, and just enjoy the scenery.
About another mile from the bridge you'll reach the Town Of Lisbon Park. You'll need to ride the asphalt path into the park. You'll find a playground here for the kids, and well kept rest rooms down the road at the second parking area.
As you continue down the trail you'll arrive at Sussex Village Park consisting of many shade trees, and a play ground. When riding through the village of Sussex be careful when crossing Good Hope Road. It's a major four lane highway through town, and the traffic can be quite intense. Just East on the out skirts of Sussex the trail comes to an end, and you'll have to ride on the street for about two blocks to pick up the trail on the other side.,
When the trail ends, cross the road, turn left (North), and cross over the gas pump area at the Citco Station on the corner. Turn right(South), and ride about 1 1/2 blocks down the road. You'll see the bike trail on your left right before the stop & go lights. You'll cross over another road, under an overpass, and then over an old railroad tressel to continue on to the small village of Lannon.
About two miles before Lannon you'll come to Menomonee Park. You'll need to take the half mile spur trail into the park. Here you'll find a playground and swimming beach as well as a nice picnic area.
As you continue on to Lannon you'll pass the hugh open pit Lannon quarry which is still in operation extracting limestone.
A short way down the trail you'll pass through the village of Lannon. Here you'll find a cafe/dairy bar near the trail.
Your last stop will be Menomonee Falls where the trail comes to an abrupt end.
I found this trail very plesant to ride. Through the villages of Sussex and Lannon you'll traverse many residential neighborhoods with only schrubs and trees separating you from there backyards, but still retaining a feeling of isolation. You'll find yourself going through many wooded areas as well.

A Wonderful Surprize

"We were a little concerned that this trail may be a little too “urban” for our taste but
decided to give it a try. What a pleasant surprise it was to feel so isolated in the
northwestern suburbs of Milwaukee. The quarries were interesting. We stopped on the
bridge over the Canadian National tracks and watched a train go by on the Union Pacific
on the line we would soon go under on our way into Sussex. Then another train came
through on the line below us.

If there was a downside to our trip it was Sussex. It brings one back to the reality of how
close one is to civilization. (If you’re looking to escape it.) The trail ends abruptly and
there are no directions as to how to pick it up again. After finding it, we continued only
about 3/4 mile to find a “Trail Closed Sign” with no directions as to the detour route. We
braved our way past the sign and found the only part of the trail out of service was at
Hillside Road. (County Highway J) We portaged through the construction site and once
again found ourselves in seclusion with nature. The upside of Sussex was finding the
railroad station along the trail and a sign at the old mill giving a nice history lesson on the

The remainder of the ride to Merton was pleasant. While my wife, Yvonne, rested at
Fireman’s Park, I explored the asphalt trail through the park. At the west end of that trail
picked up the rail grade again and it looks as if work is in progress to extend the trail to
the end of the line at North Lake. (One can only hope)

Due to the construction at Hillside Road I would suggest waiting until next season to ride
this one, but don’t cross it off the list.

Dan & Yvonne Sylvester"

Great trail

This is a great trail. Take it heading west from the start. I work near where it began (near 124th and Brown Deer Road). It's a beautiful trail and nature abounds. It's great to travel the old lines where the trains once ran. The trail is especially beautiful in October near the Sussex end of the line.

Bugline Trail

"We started off a Merton, a small town north of Hartland. Merton has a nice little sandwich shop for refeshments. After starting at the Trail Head, a Church Parking lot, we rode past a lake
on the righthand side of the trail. The Lake eventually gave way to a large swampy area, then a small river. We crossed the river, then came upon a nice park on the righthand side of the trail.
The park has restroom, a very nice playground, sports areas and picnic areas.
On the righthand side of the trail is a railroad tracks about 50 yards away. The highlight of our trip was watching a long freight train go by. We continue to bike in as the trail passed through wetlands.
Then, we arrived at the city of Sussex.
Make sure your young ones ride near you now because there are a couple busy highway crossing. In Sussex there are several shopping areas near the trail.
It started to rain, so we went inside a fast food restaurant. After the rain we decided to head back, so unfortunately we didn't ride the whole trail"

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