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The Old Plank Road Trail parallels State Route 23—a road originally built out of wooden planks in the 1800s—from the western edge of Sheboygan to the Village of Greenbush. The trail was one of the first in the country constructed in the same right-of-way as a divided 4-lane highway.
The trail’s proximity to a busy highway makes it a convenient commuting route for thousands of residents of Sheboygan County; the trail is as direct as the adjacent road. Although SR 23 is always within view, the trail is surprisingly scenic, passing close to (and crossing) the Sheboygan River through some of Wisconsin’s finest farmland.
The Old Plank Road Trail is also a bit of a challenge, as there are some significant hills along the way. This is partially due to its proximity to the Kettle Moraine State Forest, which was formed through the movement of glaciers thousands of years ago.
An adjacent grass sidepath allows equestrian users to experience the trail and the many sights along the way. In Greenbush, the Wade House Historic Site is a popular place to explore at the beginning or end of a trek on the trail. The area includes a restored stagecoach hotel, sawmill, blacksmith shop and museum, and is located just south of the trail off Plank Road.
There are four trailheads offering parking along the Old Plank Road Trail. In the east, park on Erie Avenue in Sheboygan. Farther west, park at the trailhead on Meadowlark Road.
In Plymouth, there is a trailhead at the intersection of Eastern Avenue and SR 57. The westernmost trailhead is located in Greenbush at the trail’s crossing of Plank Road.
This is about a 10 mile round trip, most on the Old Plank Road Trail, and a short leg south on Meadowlark Rd. to get to the Twisted Restaurant in Sheboygan Falls. The trails has some hills, but our 7 year-old on a one-speed cruiser type bike handled it great. We usually aim for a restaurant/pub as the turnaround point...which gives our family of 5 something to shoot for! Twisted is right on the Sheboygan River and has great food, views, and brews.
The Old Plank Road trail parallels Rte 23, so it's not always peaceful, but it's a great way to get between the towns of Sheboygan, Sheboygan Falls, Kohler, Plymouth, etc. Very enjoyable to travel past the farms and fields, and there's plenty of good side roads to get into each town. The trail is nicely paved, and we usually see lots of fast riding bicyclists, so it must be good for a workout!
Plymouth trailhead had plenty of parking, a porta potty, water, picnic table/grill, map kiosk, trail pass kiosk and a shelter.
Paved trail in excellent condition as of 9/2015. I took a few wrong turns on the trail so you have to watch for the sometimes really tiny signs.
Since this trail is actually an old Indian trail as opposed to an abandoned RR track it winds around the contours of the surrounding land and consists of anything between gently rolling knolls to quite steep climbs. Some of the landscape was beautiful and included some streams, marshes, fields and ponds.
I had only a couple of negative experiences on this trail: 1. I found the noise from the traffic (busy highway that runs parallel to the trail) was very loud and annoying. 2. There is very little shade and biking on black pavement in 85°+ temperatures was a little uncomfortable for me. I plan to return in the cooler temps of fall and maybe try wearing head phones, etc to block out some of the traffic noise.
Very safe. Enjoy direct highway route without being on it. Trade off is that it is more hilly than highway. Allows you to cross roads before intersections so helps you avoid getting run over by cars turning right. Pretty neat. spectacular view at top of hills.
Twelve round trip miles, not for a beginner or the faint of heart. The most difficult, yet satisfying bike trail we have ever been on!
My husband and I had high hopes for this trail while we were staying in Sheboygan. We started at the trailhead in Sheboygan and headed east. The trail was smooth and in good shape, we even enjoyed the rolling hills. As other reviewers have stated the trail does run along Highway 23 so there is quite a bit of traffic noise, this didn't bother us that much. All road crossings are well marked and with substantial warning.
Things went amiss around the 4.5 mile mark. As this trail is open to snowmobiles in the winter, their tracks grind down the asphalt. We went from a smooth ride to what felt like riding on gravel. I'm sorry to say we turned around near the 5 mile marker as the trail was only deteriorating instead of improving. If going out for a leisurely skate (10 miles or less) this is a great trail from the trailhead in Sheboygan to the 4 mile marker. If you want 10+ miles find somewhere else.
Have you ever wanted to know what it was like to ride your bike on an interstate highway? Then this is your trail. The trail hugs the side of a busy divided lane highway. The sound of passing cars and semis is constant, and unbearable. The air is foul with exhaust. There is no shade at all, and the scenery consists of an endless series of billboards. Benches along the path face out at the highway--so that you can kick back and take it all in, apparently. We left from the trail head in Sheboygan and had planned to go the entire 18 miles, but turned around in Plymouth, so maybe it dramatically improves after there. Unless you are using this trail to commute, there is no reason to ever be on it. Should not be included on any list of best bike trails in Wisconsin.
I rode this today from Highway 67 into Sheboygan and back. I found it totally nice for a road bike all the way to the Kohler trailhead. From that trailhead into Sheboygan it was sideroads until the bike trail picked up again near Taylor Park. From there it was pretty rough and not all that well maintained, but still navigable. I gave up on the trail once I got to 17th street and turned around going back to Highway 67.
This half of the trail has rolling hills and is above average with no serious issues. There are several roads and driveways to cross. I would not take small children on this part of the trail, but if you are looking for a good workout, this is for you.
I rode the trail earlier this summer and they had a partial detour to repave parts of it. It has some hills if you start out at Greenbush. Great trail though, but like roads they have to repave sometimes. Hopefully that was the worse part they were repaving.
Let me start by clarifying the somewhat conflicting reviews and say that this trail is all asphalt from start to finish. We rode the trail from the East to West and the first 7 miles is in very good condition. Then the trail has some uneven surfaces, cracks and the odd pothole. Overall it was not to bad at all. There are many rolling inclines and a couple of steep areas however we have road bikes and found it to be no problem. It was nice to have a little more of a challange then the boring flat trails of most bike paths. The trail was very well marked and had lots of nice rest areas with benches, picnic tables and some with shaded coverings. One stop even had a barbeque! The trail does allow for motorized vechicals so watch out for scooters. We really enjoyed this trail because it was more challenging and a nice change of scenery the way it winds in and around the country side. It does run next to the hwy 23 but it does not seem to detract from the ride. If you want a change of pace this is your trail, enjoy!
This trail is so so. It is poorly maintained and because motorized vehicles travel on it the trail is bumpy and has some potholes. Not recommended for bicycling.
"This is an all asphalt trail, which I was not used to. I usually ride on crushed limestone. The trail starts out by Greenbush with several large hills and then settles into smaller rolling hills.
The trail was well maintained and I would recommend this trail to all that are looking for a change from the rail-to-trail rides that are somewhat flat and non-paved. I would recommend not using a recumbant bike because of the amount of hills.
This was a very enjoyable ride."
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