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The Pine River Trail winds on an abandoned railroad corridor between Richland Center and Lone Rock in scenic Richland County. Trail users are treated to stunning views of river bluffs, marshland and dense woodlands, as well as famous Wisconsin farmland. The Pine River, of course, is never far away from the trail that shares its name.
The trail is paved in Richland Center—the birthplace of Frank Lloyd Wright—but transitions to crushed limestone at Bohmann Drive. That surface continues all the way to Lone Rock. Krouskop Park, the northern trailhead in Richland Center, features a playground, baseball diamonds, picnic shelters, and tennis and basketball courts.
Parking for the Pine River Trail is available in Richland Center at Krouskop Park on N. Jefferson Street. Additional parking and restrooms can be found in Twin Bluffs where the trail crosses Twin Bluff Drive.
In Gotham, parking is available at a city park one block south of the trail on Fulton Street. In Lone Rock, park at the southern trailhead on W. Richland Street.
Even though this is supposed to be a groomed trail, it is in very poor overall condition. There are several very deep holes and washouts along with ruts left by someone driving farm implements down the trail. Many of these ruts are full of water and mud. There are also a few sandy areas that are deep enough to cause problems . One of the many bridges has approaches that must have washed out and are being reworked. You will have to carry your bike across this. Scenery is farmland mostly and you will likely get up close and personal with a cow occasionally. There is an outhouse and a very friendly dog with a limp at Twin Bluff Drive. I think he belongs to the Farm implement place. This could be a really nice trail if it was not in such poor condition.
We began our ride in Richland Center. The area for parking was easy to find but there were no signs for the trail. It took multiple loops around the park and finally asking directions to find the trail head. The ride through town is asphalt and scenic. Once leaving town the surface changes to crushed gravel and in the next 8 miles it gradually deteriorates from some limestone to packed dirt/grass with multiple spots washed out. It is unfortunate the trail is in such rough shape because the scenery is wonderful. It is one of the prettiest rides we have ever done and would love to come back once the trail is groomed.
This is the trail in my backyard, I don't need to drive to get to it. It is almost always peaceful with the sounds of birds and sandhill cranes as a sound track. It is a trickier terrain and can be flooded over between Gotham and Richland Center if there has been a longer wet spell.
They have made some improvements this spring/summer. It is now asphalt paved and well-maintained from Wal-mart to the Otto Bellman, behind Krouskop park. They are also working on lighting and rest stops. The trail to Twin Bluffs is crushed gravel and easy for most bikes to navigate. From Twin Bluffs to Gotham is the roughest patch with two tracks and grass in-between. My road bike doesn't like to navigate that area but it's not impossible. The trail from Richland Center to Gotham is the most shaded while Gotham to Lone Rock is more open and sunny. Stop in Twin Bluffs at Los Amigos 2 restaurant (brief diversion) and then the Bat Cave in Gotham to hydrate. Bridges are all well-maintained. There aren't too many gopher holes and the trail is peaceful.
We started out where the trail goes behind Walmart. We did not want to ride through Richland Center. We rode the trail to Lone Rock and then returned. 27 miles that was.
Most of the trail is in decent shape. There are places where there is grass growing on the trail, but not enough to impact travel.
As others have said, there is a section near Lone Rock that is not far off the highway and fairly open. Most of the trail is well away from the highway and you cannot hear or see it.
We saw a great variety of wildlife during our ride, including a bull snake, turkey, cranes, raccoon, and deer.
The bridges are all in good repair and quite smooth. Most have been re-surfaced and a couple of old ones are still decent.
There are parts of the trail that are quite nice, but much of it is mediocre. Not a top notch ride by any means, but still worth riding at least once.
I started up in Richland Center and the trail was 5 star awesome, then it went to crushed limestone for about a mile, then it became a pair of tire tracks with weeds growing out of it(I think the rest of the trail). The scenery was beautiful and I knew I was truly in the middle of nowhere (I like that feeling). I got off the trail and rode along US 14 and it wasn't bad.
I can handle limestone, but my bike wasn't made for bumpy rides.
While I've ridden the Pine River Trail quite a number of times, this is the first time I've ridden from Richland Center to Lone Rock and back. I had heard on the local radio that a portion of the trail near Twin Bluffs will be closed starting Monday, August 18, so I thought I'd better do this.
As others have said, it is a very picturesque ride on much of the trail. The trail between Gotham and Lone Rock is certainly out in the open and parallels Hwy 14, but it's still interesting. I stopped at one point to read a marker talking about the lowland prairie and prickly pear cactus ... and so there are things to enjoy ... even in the open.
It's an enjoyable ride ...
This trail was difficult to find as there are no signs to direct you. I found my way with the assistance of a local biker. Parking at, presumably, Krouskop park and heading north, crossing 14/61 near a small motel is where I accessed the trail. It is paved until you get to the White House Supper Club, then sand/gravel. The scenery gets better as you leave Richland Center, lots of wildlife and few people. The trail follows the Pine River through farms and wetlands. Very flat, an easy ride very few people on this trail (the weather was perfect) I felt as if I had the trail to myself. The Sextonville Bog is beautiful, lots of waterfowl and turtles. The trail is grassy hard packed dirt after the bog and I would imagine muddy during wet weather, but was good today. I turned back near Gotham, the trail is pretty much parallel to 14/61 at this point. Overall a nice ride I will return.
I rode this trail from Lone Rock to Richland Center and then up Highway 80 to Pier County Park where I camped over night, returning to Lone Rock the next day.
The trail was generally in good condition. I really liked how quiet and smooth the hard-packed surface of trail was. Even though I was pulling a trailer, I could easily average 12 mph. Several bridges that had been in rough condition were recently resurfaced and are now in excellent shape.
As others have pointed out, the portion between Lone Rock and Gotham runs parallel to Highway 14, but I didn't find it too distracting. After Gotham, the trail goes through some very picturesque country side, featuring a forested river-scape framed by thickly wooded ridges and family farms.
Once you get to Richland Center, you'll find plenty of restaurants, and it's worth it to go into town center and look at some of the interesting architecture, including the A.D. German Warehouse, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright was born in Richland Center, and though the Warehouse the only building in town that he designed, there are several homes are clearly inspired by Wright's Prairie style.
The trail head in Lone Rock is not well marked and there's not much of a parking area. I parked on a dirt road adjacent to the trail head, and was gone over night. When I returned, a man who lives next to the path told me had called the police when I hadn't returned to my car by nightfall. There was no harm done, but it might be a good idea to leave your car in the city park east of the trail and just bike the half-mile to the trail head.
As a side note, the highways around this part of Wisconsin, generally have at least 2' of paved shoulder and sometimes much more. If you feel like doing some road biking, this is a pretty good place to go.
This county (not state) trail will give you many pleasing views of rural, agricultural Wisconsin. Recent reviews of it on this site are accurate. On July 12, 2012 I found it easy riding in good condition. Ignore the southernmost 5-mile segment between Lone Rock and Gotham; most of it closely parallels a busy highway (US-14), is sunny and open, and uninteresting. Between Gotham and Richland Center, the trail is mostly well away from civilization, as it heads up the broad Pine River Valley (moving away from the Wisconsin River) which gradually narrows. The trail passes through the "back acres" of productive Wisconsin farmland, marshes, a rare tamarack swamp (southwestern-most in the US), and some treed areas. The trail is mostly in the open, with not a lot of shade. The surface is smooth, with hard-packed fine limestone, hard-packed dirt, and some grass, all easy riding. There are a few gentle ups and downs, and an occasional cattle-guard. The trail is lightly used, with many lovely views, making for a peaceful ride. Occasional interpretive signs provide interesting facts about the passing natural environment. Mileage signs (on the mile from each end) help you keep track of where you are. Good news: the previous requirement for passes is now obsolete; trail use is free as of 2012. Parking suggestion at south end: start at Gotham, where the trail crosses Highway 60 a few blocks west of the junction of Highways 14/60. It is not marked, but obvious if you look. Go south a very short block on Fulton St., and park in a grassy area by the trail.
We rode this trail on a nice summer day during a long dry spell. Finding the trail in Lone Rock with our GPS wasn't a problem, but there ought to be some signage from US 14 to get people to the trailhead. The Lone Rock trailhead is several blocks south of US 14 via SR 130, then west on Richland St to the dead end. There are no facilities there and it isn't really made for parking, but there is a park on the west side of SR 130, and a big park with full facilities a couple blocks south on Exchange St. We parked there and rode to the trail by taking Maple St north, and carrying our bikes over the railroad tracks to make the connection.
At the north end in Richland Center we rode about a half mile behond the zero mile point and didn't find the park/trailhead. We turned around when the trail began to take the sidewalk alongside busy Highway 14. Altogether it was about 15.5 miles one-way from where we parked to where we turned around.
The trail surface is very well-packed fine stone which worked just fine with the narrower tires of my road bike. There are many areas where short grass is growing up through the trail but it didn't affect the riding conditions. Theere are a dozen or so bridges along the trail, many of them in need of repair. Several times I had to dodge warped boards sticking up from a bridge surface. Coming into Richland Center was a pretty brief section of larger, looser stone before the asphalt began. There were not too many road crossings, mainly over quiet streets.
The trail is predominantly rural and away from traffic except for 3.5 miles from the outskirts of Lone Rock to near Gotham, and the last couple of miles coming into Richland Center. I expected more views of the eponymous river, but other than one bridge crossing the only water we saw were irrigation ditches and the Sextonville bog.
There is a highway rest area with full facilities on the opposite side of US 14 about 3 miles from Lone Rock for those who are willing to cross a busy highway, and picnic tables and a porta-potty in Twin Bluffs, about 9 miles from the Lone Rock end. There was a picnic table without other facilities near our turnaround point in Richland Center.
I rode this trail for the first time on Monday, deciding to begin at the trailhead in Lone Rock. It is not marked so I had to ask at a local convenience store and was directed to where the 'bike path' begins. From my experience, do NOT begin in Lone Rock. The first five miles are wide open and parallel U.S. 14 from a distance of 30 to 50 yards. The trail gets amazing where it crosses state highway 60 in Gotham. I only went another five miles, but they are among the most amazing I've experienced in southern Wisconsin. The trail goes through the lowlands and bogs of the Lower Wisconsin river...multiple wood plank bridges (including one that's curved)...distinctive scenery...farm land...and not heavily used. You can still spot a couple utility pools from the late 1800s and early 1900s along the trail. Very cool.
June 20, 2008
I was coming back from a week long bike trip in Minnesota, and thought I'd do the Pine River Trail in Wisconsin on the way home.
Wisconsin was recovering from a week of torrential rains which caused flooding throughtout much of the state. I wasn't sure if this trail would be suitable to ride.
I began my ride with my Scorpion Fx Trike at the trail head in Krouskop Park located Hwy 14 West in Richland Center. The trail has no entry sign saying the "Pine River Trail". I had to ask a city employee I met at a corner stop sign, and followed him to the start of the trail.
Portions of the black top were under constructon, and torn up at the beginning of the trail. About 1 3/4 miles of black top goes through the city of Richland Center crossing a number of streets, and one busy intersection. The 1/4 mile spur that goes across the suspension bridge takes you up a steep incline on the other end winding up on a residential street. Considering it basically goes no where I feel it's not worth the huffing and puffing it takes to get up it.
The black top eventualy comes to an abrupt end, and the crushed gravel takes over. Because of the rains, the trail was in really bad shape with sink holes, and deep ruts abounding. At one point I had to get off the trike, and push it across a broken portion of the trail.
It was a hot day in the upper 80's when I rode this trail, and the trail doesn't offer much relief in the way of shade.
The trail parallels the Pine river, and crosses over a number of wood plank bridges. The bridges are really old, and the river water looks stagnant to say the least. The scenery consists mainly of farmland and meadows with a glimpse of the forested hillside in the background.
I had heard that repairs were about to begin on the trail, so it should be in more suitable riding condition in weeks to come. However, I would not recommend this trail for trikes because of the rough terrain. Wisconsin has much better trails to ride than the Pine River.
"Unloaded at Krouskop Park for a short ride on the East River dike.
The Suspension Bridge spur is wide enough for the 41” Tri- Cruiser.
Paved through most of town, would liked to have more time as I think this would be an interesting trail. Date 23 Aug 06."
"Biked the pine river trail in early June 06. Weekday so I only saw 2 other riders on the trail. Parked in a city park in Lone Rock and started my ride there. Trail followed the highway to Gotham, then the scenery was great to Richland Center. Parts of
trail was overgrown with grass and pot holes and loose sand to watch out for. There is a paved section in Richland center. Total miles for ride was 35. Not a bad trail but there are much better ones to ride. Ok once but will not ride again. "
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