Cheese Country Recreation Trail


Cheese Country Recreation Trail Facts

States: Wisconsin
Counties: Green, Iowa, Lafayette
Length: 47 miles
Trail end points: Water Street (Mineral Point) and Bethel Rd. at 21st St. (Monroe)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6017414
Trail activites: ATV, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Snowmobiling, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Cheese Country Recreation Trail Description

If you're looking for an invigorating motorized trail experience, the Cheese Country Trail (a.k.a. the Tri-County Trail) will not disappoint. The 47-mile trail meanders through the heart of southwest Wisconsin's Driftless Area, a massive tract of land noted for the rolling hills and rocky outcroppings left untouched by glaciers.

The Cheese Country trail traverses Iowa, Green and Lafayette counties, intersects with the Pecatonica State Trail near Calamine and crosses a total of 57 small bridges and overpasses, including the 440-foot bridge at Brownstown, as it winds from Monroe to Mineral Point. This is primarily used as an ATV and snowmobile trail, though bicyclists, horseback riders and cross-country skiers share the corridor. The surface in many areas is quite rough; if you plan to bike, opt for the sturdy tires of your mountain bike. You should also be prepared to share the trail with loud and heavy ATV traffic.

Monroe, the Cheese Country Trail's southern end is quite fittingly known as the "Swiss Cheese Capital" of the United States. The trailhead, with parking, is just 6 miles from the Illinois border. Heading northwest from Monroe, you follow State Route 11 through Brownstown and South Wayne. After passing through Brownstown, the trail crosses a 440-foot bridge spanning the Pecatonica River. Here the trail runs through wooded areas and marshes, all the while hugging the scenic farmland of the local dairy farms.

If you want to take a break, Gratiot, at mile 20, is a good bet. Restaurants and shops are found here, as well as ATV rentals, in case you want to start your motorized adventure. From Gratiot the trail continues northwest along stretches of farmland and wooded ridges for about 11 miles to Darlington, right off SR 81. Refreshments, supplies and ATV rentals are plentiful in this community.

Another 5 miles on the trail brings you to Calamine. As you approach Calamine you run into the Pecatonica State Trail, which runs west for 10 miles to Belmont. Finally, from Calamine the Cheese Country Trail heads north for an additional 10 miles until it ends in the lovely town of Mineral Point at the old Railroad Depot Museum.

Mineral Point is among Wisconsin's oldest communities, and this historic mining village is today rich with artist's studios and galleries. Many of the old homes in Mineral Point have been restored, and some of them have been made into restaurants and B&Bs, encouraging you to stay awhile.

A state trail pass is required for bicyclists, horseback riders and cross-country skiers 16 years and older. All ATVs must be registered. Visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website for more information.

Parking and Trail Access

The Monroe endpoint is accessible from State Route 11/81 by taking SR 69 south. Turn right on 21st Street. It's about 0.5 mile to the parking lot on 4th Avenue west.

To reach the Mineral Point endpoint from US 151, take Exit 40 then turn left on Commerce Street. Turn left again on Old Darlington Road to the parking spaces available 200 feet at the bottom of the hill and to the left of the Mineral Point Railroad Depot Museum.

Cheese Country Recreation Trail Reviews

Spent a nice quite five days in the area. Also enjoyed good food, shopping, what a beautiful area.

We've been coming n riding the Cheese Country Trail Co Trail since 1993 when our children were 1 1/2 and 3yrs old. It's a wonderful trail for family riding and a great place to teach young ones n new riders "the rules n ways" of the trail. We enjoy camping n 4wheelin A LOT! It's level, well groomed and has many neat features such as bridges, wooded "tree tunnels/ overgrowth, great scenery including farms, rocky bluffs, fields, rivers n streams. There's lots of wildlife to see too.
Our kids grew up ridin this trail n many others in Wisconsin n Iowa. They're 23 n 25 now and still love coming back as do we.
¿...the Turnis Family, Cascade, IA

I ride the trail at least once a year. I come from about 2 hours away! I enjoy bringing family and friends and have never had any problems. We bring our atvs and utvs and enjoy. Yes it could be more challenging and maybe have a bit less dust but all in all good fun for all. We personally have never had problems with any other riders or people up there. I suggest giving it a try!!


Since I live next to the trail and have horses, I have ridden this trail for over 17 years. Most four wheeler and all other motorized vehicles are very generous and are cautious when encountering horses. Trust me when I say it is better to come slowly on your side of the trail than to come to a stop and expect my horses to pass the machine. The horses are used to traffic, and noises, but do not like to pass vehicles that may start in any direction. Please keep coming slowly, and do not wave. Smile and nod but waving at an animal while coming towards them can be very threatening. One other word of advice would be that joggers should be encouraged to stop jogging when coming up to a horse. I have had many near mishaps due to someone running towards my horse than motorized vehicles, and bicyclists are just as bad as they have no engines. Hope this helps others enjoying this wonderful trail.

Seems like they don't spend much time with the up keep on the trail, it's extremely rough, full of ruts, washouts and we had to move several trees off the trail. But grading is a must it's horrible and because of that we won't be using that trail again.

I am reading a lot of bad reviews of this trail for biking and need to chime in.

I recently rode the entire length of it from Monroe to Mineral Point and found it to be fine. (I expected much worse). Lots of ATV's but everyone of them slowed down when passing and most of them gave a friendly wave. Many parts of the trail are loose gravel but I had no problems going through those sections with my mountain bike. There were other sections that are in much better shape than the DNR controlled trails in Wisconsin.

Because of the rough sections and ATV traffic, I would not recommend it for family biking. But if you are looking for a good challenge and workout, give it a try.

I ride a dual sport motorcycle and thought that I would give this trail a shot. I also have a hybrid and road bike in the garage. For a bicycle, this is a poor trail,even for mountain bikes. For a dual sport motorcycle, this is a boring trail. I'm not sure how anyone on an ATV would want to ride this trail more than once. It is flat and the speed limit is 30MPH. I can't even get out of 2nd gear at 30MPH. I ride it once a year to remind myself why I only ride it once a year. Right now it is April and the trail is still closed to all motorized traffic waiting for some spring thaw. So for six months out of the year, this trail is closed to me and I am okay with that as I don't plan on supporting it this year.

If you want a trail that is like a driveway then this is the place to go. The trail itself was flat, no hills or even humps. It was well maintained. It was pretty boring to us. It would be a great place to take a person new to ATV'ing to get use to their equipment. It is 40 some miles long...but if you go at a speed of 30 mph you can get it done in no time....then what? It's hard to see any scenery because of all the trees on both sides of the trail. Guess you could say we were disappointed.

Yes, we are ATV riders. We are respectful of walkers, pedal bikers, other ATV RIDERS. This trail is full of great scenic views. It offers many stops to rest and chat. We enjoy going down to Belmont to our favorite restaurant-Sports Page. We are from the area and do see some that do not slow down and some that abuse rental ATVs. But why the negativity to our trials from the pedal bikers. This is our one trail down this way in Southern Wisconsin. We are not allowed to go on Military Ridge, Capital Trail, roads etc. When driving in cars and there are 3 bikes across the road on the other side of the hill do we have a place to complain? I live in one of the busiest cities that have very arrogant dumb *** racing bikers who love to hog the whole road and not obey traffic signs. Well on the ATV we do! Yes there are some on both sides of the fence that do stupid things, Shame on you!

I was in the area, and thought I'd give this trail one more try. After a couple hundred yards, I turned around and got on the highway. The Cheese Country Trail is unsuitable for road bikes, touring bikes, mountain bikes, cruisers, and hybrids. You might have some success with a fat tire sand bike, but other than that, watch out. The surface is loose sand, gravel, and stones, and it's pocked with ATV divots.

This trail is not suitable for bikes. The crushed gravel is too large and deep to ride with a bike. The ATV riders were very courteous to us on the trail but the trail surface is just not ride-able for any length of time on a bike.

I really enjoy riding this trail. Beautiful scenery, fun trails, the occasional mud pit. Good times! Plenty of stops along the way for restaurants, shops, gas stations, etc. Definitely not a disappointing trail!

Mountain bike at best. Way to rough and soft for road or even hybrid tires. The ATV riders I encountered were very polite and gave me plenty of room.

As a Avid Hiker, Mt. Biker, Dirt Bike Rider ans ATV Enthusiast , It annoys me to no end how certain people think an Activity should be ONLY what they think it Should be, I Do not like certain things but i would not think of Demeaning other peoples Activity like many of the Reviews here about ATV's. or try to get them removed just because they annoy me. Most Trials are not Motorized Friendly, but that is not good enough for some people.Please, Go to other places where activities will not bother you instead of Negative Comments, please . We all like to go on the Trails so lets get along and ENJOY!!.

Do not ride this trail if you are expecting a nice roadway of crushed limeston (e.g., on the Badger Trail). This is a lose gravel trail meant for 4-wheelers.

I rode the trail from Gratiott to mineral point and back in a Kawasaki Mule on a Saturday in early May. Was not to crowded but it was early in the year. No problems with ATVs and even though my Kawasaki is governed at 25 mph not one person passed me in the four hours we were on the trail. Had a great burger in darlington overall liked the trail and plan on heading back soon.

I rode the trail from Gratiott to mineral point and back in a Kawasaki Mule on a Saturday in early May. Was not to crowded but it was early in the year. No problems with ATVs and even though my Kawasaki is governed at 25 mph not one person passed me in the four hours we were on the trail. Had a great burger in darlington overall liked the trail and plan on heading back soon.

On the same day a few years ago, I rode both the Pecatonica and he Cheese Country trails, both "multi-use," in that they both seem to be favored by crazy, speeding, sometimes drunken drivers in their obnoxious four-wheelers. These clowns apparently think nothing of churning up the trail itself (so that a lowly bicycle has to slog through inches of pulverized gravel to a depth of several inches in many places), but also of bullying bikers off the the trail and irresponsibly leaving the trail in their machines and wreaking havoc in the surrounding natural areas. I will never return to either of these two trails because they have been co-opted by the local four-wheeler gangs.

I was sad to see the multitude of negitive comments concerning the ATV usage on the Tri-County trail (or any other legal trail for that matter.) I've been utilizing this trail for over 25 years for everything from bicycling, X-C skiing, as well as for motor sports with motorcycles, snowmobiles, and atvs. I believe this is one of the nicest trails dedicated as a shared trail in the midwest since motorized vehicles we no longer permitted in the forest preserves. We will always have multiple opinions concerning the use of motorized vs non on trails. The motor sports clubs place a great deal of time and well as club money into assuring the trails are safe for anyone who choses to utilize them. Many of the volunteers that utilize the trails for motor sports also us the trails for non motorized sports as well.
Without the support of these clubs and the generous volunteers the trails would be in far worse shape for bicycles, running, and all other non-motorized activities.
As far as the "smelly fumes" there has been a great deal of time and money spent by the manufactures to make them more environmentally responsible. I'm also fully aware that there are people who don't follow the rules of the trail and I'm ecstatic to see that those people have been fined as well as banned from the trails in many cases.
The trails are for all to use as long as they're respected as well as those others on the trails.

not sure why so many are giving salty reviews because of off road (atv's,motorcycles,ect..)
yes weekends can get alittle busy, but Its prob because some work all week and like to ride
and relieve alittle stress on their day off! There are plenty of non-ATV trails for hikers,mountain
bikers, enjoy! So lets keep the dirty looks ,to yourself and try to
respect eachother. Offroaders have to respect not being able to ride on most trails so I find
it a little ridiculous when getting (bad reviews) for ride'n on the few trails were allowed too! You
dont see off-roaders whinning about having to lookout for hikers,ect.. Shouldnt be labled a mixed
trail, yea right?! Im sure hikers, bikers would respect that!

Don't use this trail unless you're 4 wheeling, because the surface isn't ridable with a bicycle, and not enjoyable at all because of the dust and gas fumes, especially on weekends. The other posts are right on. This shouldn't be categorized as a multi use trail.

"I agree with the other reviewers. This was once a nice scenic trail until the ATVs beat it to tears. If you like dust, mud, rusts, stench, noise and flying stones, you'll love this trail."

"This multi-use trail is primarly used by ATVs and weekends are very busy. I suggest you avoid Saturdays and Sundays unless you are motorized. The ride from the Monroe trailhead west to the Cadiz Springs Recreation Area near Browntown is a nice, easy ride but watch for ruts and loose surfaces on the trail."

"I rode this trail on June 20, 2003, from Gratiot to Mineral Point and back. For forty miles I was the only person on bike while 140 others were using ATVs. The bridges have gaps between planks that can catch bike tires. The ATV's fishtailing has loosened packed gravel on 2/3 of trail.

Take the mixed use bicycle sign down before someone gets hurt. I will never ride this trail again."

"This trail is primarily used for ATVs so while its maintained by their club, it also gets ripped up a bit.
The first time I rode here was after a rain storm and the trail was quite beaten and muddy. I rode again this past summer and it was in much better shape. If starting in Mineral Point keep in mind that its a downhill ride south. My last 62 mile ride was a little difficult for those last 10 miles back uphill.
Mineral Point is an excellent place to start as there is a brewery/bed&breakfast at the trailhead. Theres nothing like ending a ride with a good microbrew.
Theres plenty of wildlife along the trail. Large turtles, deer, eagles, turkeys, frogs, and (not so wild) cows are frequent sites."

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