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The Northwestern Trail begins near the public library in downtown Ripon, a charming small town in eastern Wisconsin. History buffs may want to head a few blocks south from this endpoint to explore the Little White Schoolhouse (303 Blackburn Street), built in 1853, that some consider to be the birthplace of the Republican Party.
From the library, the trail heads northwest for nearly 3 miles to the western county line along a former Chicago and North Western Railroad right-of-way. The eastern end is gravel, which becomes hard-packed dirt and grass as you travel west. It's fairly level and well maintained year round, making the trail suitable for walkers, bikers, cross-country skiers and snowmobilers.
Along the way, keep a lookout for the many animals that call the surrounding wetlands, woodlands and fields home, including deer, foxes, rabbits, chipmunks, gophers and turkeys. And you can stop for lunch at Eagle Park, located near the intersection of Pearl and Eagle Streets on the trail's eastern end; the park offers picnic tables, benches and play equipment.
A parking lot is available at the eastern end of the trail at the Ripon Public Library (120 Jefferson Street).
This is not a trail, please do not get confused or you will be disappointed. This is a small pathway next to the houses’ backyard. They’re is a few trees, they have cut most of them. Horrible
I found the hill going down to the bridge a sandy furrow. I walked the area.
Yesterday was my first day biking on this trail. And, yes, while it is generally level, there was one place where the trail dips into a little stream gorge with a bridge spanning it, and the descent can be a bit of a challenge both because of its precipitousness and because of the loose gravel, which may cause the bike to slide, as it did mine. But I have no further words of warning. This is a great trail, though a little short. At the western end, a continuation of the old rail right of way is fenced off, and one can't help thinking how much better this trail would be if it could be lengthened into Green Lake County or even all the way into Berlin.
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