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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 Bugline Recreation Trail in and around Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, just 20 miles northwest of Milwaukee. The trail is fully paved end-to-end.
The eastern end of the trail begins 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.
Out of the neighborhood, the trail dips into a forest of forked burr oak and linden trees. Dappled light laces the mostly straight, white path until a clearing opens up to an active limestone quarry. The sheer sides of the excavation site dwarf enormous construction vehicles. About 1.5 miles past the quarry is a short rail-trail spur leading to Menomonee Park, 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.
Signs and crosswalks mark the several points where the trail crosses moderately busy roads, though it pays to be alert as some of the crossings are at odd angles to the road. In suburban Sussex, at the trail's halfway point, the Bugline makes a short jaunt south along State Route 164. Follow Silver Spring Drive west toward Sussex Village Park, a green swath of sports fields and resting places. Near mile 8 the vista widens into 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.
An industrial rail line, still in use, 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. Soon, the prairie gives way to wetlands.
The trail skirts the edge of Mill Pond and arrives at Main Street in Merton. In addition to Lannon stone architecture, Merton offers up another Wisconsin specialty: frozen custard. Grab a creamy cone for a sweet end to your journey, or continue westward through Fireman's Park and Pollworth Park, where you’ll find picnic tables, a playground, and restrooms.
To access the Merton (western) trailhead: from SR 74, go onto W. Highway VV, which turns into Main Street. You'll find the trailhead on your right off of Main Street. Parking is also available in Pollworth Park, south of Bark River Road.
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.
The Bugline is now 16 miles of paved trail with the extension to North Lake completed.
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.
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.
Such a clean and well kept 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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wonderful trail, especially as you pull away from Menomonee Falls. Long stretches of pavement with little distraction. Very 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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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"
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.
"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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