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The Fox River State Trail connects Packerland with pastureland as it rolls for 25 miles from the hometown of NFL’s Green Bay Packers to farming communities south. Named for the river that spawned the city’s industrial heritage, the trail veers from the Fox River after about 5 miles and heads across the eastern Wisconsin countryside.
Early settlers used the Fox River for trade, but entrepreneurs in the mid-1800s harnessed the river to power flour and paper mills. The development of one particular paper product in 1901 earned Green Bay the nickname “Toilet Paper Capital of the World.” Heavy industry still has an impact on the city’s economy.
The trail has been well traveled: first by Native Americans, then French explorers and traders, and later by the Milwaukee and Northern Railroad. The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad took over and ran the line until it sold it to the Soo Line in 1985. Fragments of the route were used until the tracks were removed in 1999 and work began on a trail in 2001.
Officially the Fox River State Trail starts at the corner of South Adams and Porlier Streets. It joins a busy riverfront trail that runs northward for 1.7 miles, where you’ll pass restaurants, pubs, and a bicycle shop. One block north of the Mason Street Bridge is the old railroad passenger depot (now home to a private business) built of brick and stone in 1898.
Beginning at an old railroad trestle that has been converted into the Porlier Pier for fishing, you’ll head south through the old Porlier neighborhood, where the Victorian-era Hazelwood House has been turned into a museum for the Brown County Historical Society. In another 2 miles, the 54-acre Heritage Hill State Historical Park interprets the state’s bygone days in period buildings and displays.
At mile 4.3 you can explore the dam, locks, and lock tenders’ island at Voyageur Park in De Pere, and then say goodbye to the Fox River as the trail turns away. While the northern part of the trail can be busy, trail users thin out as you head south. By mile 7, you’re out of the suburbs and warehouse districts and entering farmland.
After riding on asphalt for 10 miles, your trail becomes crushed stone at Lasee Road, although there are asphalt sections farther south. Four miles later you’ll enter Greenleaf, which offers convenience stores and cafés, as well as the southernmost trailhead at Follett and Klaus Streets. Horses are allowed on gravel portions of the trail south of WI 96, which passes through town.
More services are available in 7.5 miles in Forest Junction, where you’ll pass the junction for the eastern segment of the Friendship State Trail, which runs 4 miles to Brillion. The Fox River State Trail ends in 2.9 miles at Ott Road.
Snowmobilers are permitted on the limestone portion of the trail in Calumet County and from Man Cal Road north to Fair Road in Brown County.
NOTE: A State Trail Pass ($25 annually/$5 daily) is required for bicyclists, in-line skaters, and horseback riders ages 16 and older. Snowmobilers must display either a Wisconsin registration or a snowmobile State Trail Pass. For information, go to dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/trailpass.html.
To reach the trailhead in Green Bay from I-43, take Exit 180 onto SR 172, heading west. Go 3.8 miles, and take the Webster Ave. exit. Turn right onto SR 57/Riverside Dr., go 2.2 miles, and turn left onto Porlier St., which curves right and turns into S. Adams St. Look for on-street parking on S. Adams St., on your left.
To reach the southern trailhead in Greenleaf from I-43, take Exit 164 toward Maribel, and turn left (west) onto County Road Z. Go 9.8 miles, and turn right onto County Road W. Go 2.6 miles, and turn left onto WI 96; then go 4.2 miles, and turn right onto Follett St. Go 0.2 mile to the trailhead, just past Klaus St. on the right. The trail’s southern endpoint is 10.7 miles south.
To reach parking in Forest Junction from I-43, take Exit 154 toward Reedsville on US 10/SR 310. Go 22.1 miles, and turn left onto Church St. Go 0.2 mile, and turn left onto Campground Road, which becomes Main St. and bears right (south). In 0.1 mile, look for parking on the left side of the street. The trail’s southern endpoint is 2.8 miles south.
On 22 August I rode the entire trail from Ott Road to the Dousman Street/Hwy 141 bridge in Green Bay. The trail was in excellent shape its entire length. On the unpaved portion of the trail I met two walkers and two horseback riders. After the pavement began the number of trail users increase dramatically (it was a Saturday) and care is required. A number of bikers I talked to indicated they did not want to take road bikes on the unpaved portion. Although it had rained two days before, the day I rode the trail was solid and road bikes would not have had a problem. If I have to find something to complain about it is that at the Ott Road end of the trail parking is limited to one or two vehicles. The Ott Road trail head is easy to find. Ott Road intersects Highways 32/57 about three miles south of Forest Junction or about two miles North of Hilbert. The trail head is about a quarter mile East of the junction on the North side of Ott Road.
Made a right onto this trail from Friendship trail in Forest Junction. Rode all the way to Green Bay. Most of it packed limestone chips. Saw many animals close up. Squirrel, deer, chipmunks some of who's homes were right in the trail, and the occasional woodchuck. Trees arched over shading the trail. Trail was entirely level right into Green Bay. Pavement starts at De Pere and continues into Green Bay's beautiful riverfront parks.
Like the trail but once you head out of DePere south there doesn't seem to be any restrooms. Has anyone found anywhere?
We love to walk our 2 year old Goldendoodle on trails. This trail is wonderful! Paved, with a painted center line, it is wide enough to allow passing by without moving off to the side. Great for walking, running, biking, rollerblading, it is smooth and well-maintained. You have a nice view of the Fox River, too. There are trees along the trail, benches in spots if you feel like taking a break and enjoying the view, and a deck for viewing the river. There are also a few businesses and some lovely homes in some spots, but for the most part it is woodsy. There is a second trail alongside this one that has fitness stations for you to try. There is also a restroom stop. Try it, you'll love it! Ample parking in spots make it easy to park and enjoy the trail.
I live in Appleton so I have taken this trail a couple of times. Join/exit the trail at School Rd near Wrightstown. De Pere to Green Bay is very scenic. South of De Pere the trail goes through woods/farm lands. Great, enjoyable trail for the whole family!
The Fox River trail is now continuous from the Green Bay City Trail all the way to Forest Junction Wisconsin. Between Green Bay Downtown and the City of De Pere home owners have embraced the trail and have created some beautiful garden landscapes. All the way along the trail the Brown County staff has been maintaining the trail with a quality that reflects the pride we all feel about this wonderful trail. Anyone that needs to find out how to maintain a trail in a cost effective and proud manner could consider contacting the folks of Brown County Wisconsin
The fox river trail was extended south by about 6 miles in 2006 for a total length of 20 miles. Further southern extensions are underway.
"Watch for heavy traffic on this trail. A lot of cyclists, walkers and inline skaters means you have to concentrate on the traffic around you when using this trail. Otherwise, this is a excellent way to exit the Green Bay metro area going south. "
This trail has now been extended 6 miles south to the Calumet-Brown County line.
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