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Situated in the heart of the Driftless Region, the Old Highway 131 trail holds both cultural, geological and historical significance. Even before the old highway was established, the Ho-Chunk nation used this area as a navigation cooridor. When the highway was established, it connected a number of small agricultural communities. When a damn was constructed along this portion of the river, 149 farms were purchase and destroyed. The trail now serves as the center of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, a 8,600 acre nature preserve. Trail use is limited by permit, which are available for purchase throughout the park. The trail was recently designated a National Recreation Trail by Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland.
As the name suggests, the trail follows the Old State Hwy 131 road. The trail itself is made up of asphalt and short intermittent segments of gravel screenings. Along it's 4.5 mile course through the heart of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, the trail crosses the river 4 times, including a scenic covered bridge funded by the Ho-Chunk Nation. At it's northern terminus, there is also river and kayak launch access. Equestrians are encouraged to use the gravel/unpaved edge of the trail. Old 131 Trail is only during the summer trail season, along flooding of the river can cause trail closures occasionally.
There are two notable spur trails that also follow old roads, the Indian River trail and the Star Valley Trail. Both of these spur trails also grant users access to parking.
There is parking at both endpoints of the trail (Landing 12, Bridge 18), Campsite I and along the Star Valley and Indian River spur trails, which both extend 0.6 miles off the main trail. See TrailLink Map for more information.
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