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The White River State Trail is composed of two separate segments: a 12-mile stretch that runs between Elkhorn and just west of Burlington in Walworth County, and a 7-mile section that connects the unincorporated community of Kansasville near Eagle Lake to downtown Burlington in Racine County.
In Racine County, the eastern endpoint begins at Vandenboom Road in Kansasville, where a stretch of unused rail corridor is clearly visible from the parking lot on the east side of the road. Heading west toward Burlington, riders will be treated to classic Wisconsin farmland along a gentle grade, crossing bridges and passing by scenic vistas and wetlands along the way. Football fans will recognize Burlington as the hometown of NFL quarterback Tony Romo. Chocolate fans will be welcomed by the strong scent of chocolate chip cookies as they approach Burlington from the east, due to the ongoing production of a Nestlé plant in town (Burlington hosts its annual ChocolateFest every Memorial Day weekend).
The trail is open to snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, and snowshoers; however, note that the trail is not groomed. A separate trail for horseback riding runs between the towns of Springfield and Lyons (Walworth County).
After passing through Bushnell Park—which offers sports fields, walking trails, picnic facilities, a playground, and restrooms—you’ll cross the Fox River and remain on an off-street section that parallels Calumet Street. Just south of Adams Street, the trail continues on city sidewalks. You’ll continue for several blocks and then head right onto Fox Street and enter Wehmhoff Jucker Park, where the trail connects with the Seven Waters Bike Trail and proceeds north toward the Village of Waterford.
The 12-mile western segment in Walworth County begins on the western outskirts of Burlington where Spring Valley Road meets the Burlington Bypass in Walworth County. Lake Geneva is located approximately 5 miles south of the trail after passing the historic villages of Lyons and Springfield. The scenic trail then rolls through the glaciated landscape of southern Wisconsin, featuring woodlands, farm fields, creeks, and its namesake White River.
NOTE: A State Trail Pass ($25 annually/$5 daily) is required for bicyclists 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 eastern endpoint in Kansasville from I-94, take Exit 340 toward SR 142/Burlington. Head west onto SR 142, and go 8.4 miles. (Parts of this road may be closed at certain times or days.) Make a right onto WI 75 N., heading north. After 2.1 miles, turn left onto First St./County Line Road, and go 1 mile. Turn right onto Vandenboom Road, and go 0.8 mile. Turn right into the parking lot just across the street from where the trail begins.
To reach the Burlington trailhead from the intersection of Milwaukee Ave. and SR 36/WI 83 heading south (about 0.3 mile after crossing the Fox River), take a slight right onto Milwaukee Ave., and go 3.2 miles. Turn left onto Maryland Ave., and go 0.3 mile. Turn right onto Congress St., and make an immediate left into the trailhead parking lot.
To reach the Spring Valley Road trailhead from I-43, take Exit 29 toward SR 11/Elkhorn/Burlington. Head east on WI 11/Wisconsin Trunk Hwy. 11 E. for 10.5 miles, and take the exit on the left to get on WI 36. Turn right onto WI 36, and go 0.4 mile; then turn right onto Mormon Road/Spring Valley Road and go 0.6 mile. Turn right into the small trailhead parking lot.
To reach the western trailhead in Elkhorn from I-43, take Exit 27A for US 12 E. toward Lake Geneva. Follow signs for County Road NN/Elkhorn for 0.2 mile, and turn left onto County Road NN/E. Geneva St.—note the signs for Gateway Tech. After 0.2 mile, turn left (south) onto County Road H, and go 0.7 mile. Turn left into the trailhead parking lot.
Deep gravel washout near Kansasville parking lot but doesn't go on for long. Hard for me to pedal through that bit as I'm 57 and not terribly athletic. Generally compacted flat trail. Straight as an arrow and vegetation groomed back from the edges. Probably would need bug spray if you hiked it during mosquito season. No restrooms at the Kansasville parking lot, or really anywhere close by and I'm not sure that I'd park there on my own. When I drove by to find the parking lot last week there was a guy lying down in his car that poked his head up to look at me as i pulled in and pulled out. Maybe just taking a nap....or waiting for a friend, but it was a coupe with no bike rack. Trail closed at 142 in Burlington for roadwork but there is an unmarked path into park across from HS per grounds guy that we missed. Because we didn't know where to go we rode up McCanna to State/Adams. There is a bike trail on the north side of road giving way to sidewalk, after crossing the river, ride north to Chestnut turn west and went to Chestnut and Pine Coffee House for coffee and sandwich. There is a bike rack across the street. Nice trail though and I will go again. Good hard surface except the spots where this year's 400 year rain got to it. The coffee shop had good sandwiches too!
This trail was very nice. The Fall colors were starting and leaves littered the crushed limestone trail with their bright colors. The trail was well maintained with no slippery spots or holes.
It's not too difficult to get to this trail from the 7 waters trail. You basically head south through the park onto Milwaukee Ave, then veer right onto State Street. Right around this downtown area before State Street there is a burger place with large windows that smelled great when we rode past it. The people inside watching us go past on our tandem really looked like they were enjoying their burgers. We are going to have to stop and eat there someday.
State Street eventually turns into Mormon Road/Hwy 36. Take a left onto Spring Valley Road. This is a very nice road with a wide paved shoulder marked for bikes. The White River trail was on our right after we crossed over the Hwy 11/Burlington Bypass.
We left the trail to ride into Lake Geneva at the unlabeled Bowers Road which was after the labeled Weeks Road.
I've been an active user of this trail since 2006 while training for the Chicago Marathon. Absolutely love it. In 2015, I spent many hours on it while training for The North Face 50 & Tunnel Hill 50. In addition to running, my girlfriend and I bike on it dozens of times each year. As others have noted, this trail is for the most part very flat and straight. It primarily runs through farmland areas, though there are some sections that provide tree cover. Pedal & Cup is a nice stop halfway between Elkhorn and Burlington. Just a few days ago, the Journal Times reported that they are pulling up the tracks in Union Grove to prepare to convert it to trail. Once completed, we would have a trail that goes from Elkhorn all the way to Lake Michigan. Super excited to hear that!
I recently completed the Kansasville to Burlington segment of this trail by bike.
I'm not sure when the railroad finally abandoned this section of the trail but my grandparents owned a farm in Dover on highway 11 and I have childhood memories of hot summer nights in bed, waiting to hear the train passing in the distance.
Trail is in very good condition. Saw lots of butterflies, meadows, wooded areas, farms, and cattle grazing nearby. I did the ride in early July and there were clouds of mosquito's (Kansasville end) which didn't really bother me riding as long as I didn't stop. The Burlington Bypass tunnel provided a nice cool, shaded rest stop before continuing on to Burlington. Once in Burlington I made a little side trip around the Burlington HS property which included a peaceful paved trail through cool, dense woods. I finally ended out in Burlington's scenic Bushnell Park which offers park benches, picnic areas, clean restrooms and water for a quick refresh before returning back to Kansasville.
I did not see any postings along this (Kansasville/Burlington) segment of the trail requiring a trail pass. Not sure if you need one or not? But the Burlington to Elkhorn segment does require a state trail pass.
Trail is straight as an arrow but very scenic. Once you get to Elkhorn you will need to go a few miles into town to get something to eat.
Well we finally made it, this time the whole way. With makes a 38 mile round trip, but it was fun. The last day of our hike from Springfield, WI to Elkhorn, WI we got wet from heavy rain just short of Elkhorn but we kept on going to the end. I guess we should have picked a day with T-Storm warnings. We plan on doing it again in the fall for the colors. Scooby had a great time, but he didn't care for the rain.
Easter Sunday me and Scooby got up early and it the White River State Trail starting in Kansasville, WI to Burlington, WI with is a 14 mile roundtrip. We started our hike at 6:49 AM and got to Burlington at the Fox River at 9:26 AM. It's a nice to walk to do with your furry friend, remember to bring water for the trip and food for both of you.
Me and my dog Scooby love hiking this trail from Kansasville, WI to Burlington, WI we have hiked this trail two times. But we still haven't made it all the to Burlington today we almost made it all the way but didn't have the time to make the 14 mile round trip. I hope do it all the way to the Fox River sometime this year. I'm 57 years old and Scooby is 6 years old and he can keep on going and going.
I am a runner. I have been running on the country roads in/and around Union Grove for years and have just discovered this trail. It is an excellent change of scenery from the roads. The trail is crushed gravel. The surface is flat and easy to run on. It passes through farm fields and is lined with large trees making you feel secluded. Very peaceful. Would like to see it connect with BONG trails or extended on more of the "dead" un-used tracks in the area.
I ride this trail frequently, and I love it! The surface is gravel, so it would be best to ride this trail using a hybrid or mountain bike. There is a maintenance crew who does trim back branches and grass along the trail, as well as filling in gopher holes (which you do not want to hit with your bike!) Between Elkhorn and Burlington, there is about a 300' change in elevation per GPS, but it is gradual. The Pedal and Cup and the City of Lyons are located on the first portion of the trail. The trail does continue east of Burlington, just to the outskirts of Kansasville. Some bridges and lovely scenery! I recommend it :)
Biked from Elkhorn to Burlington and back on July 4, 2013. A very pleasant ride. Parking area at Elkhorn was neat and nicely landscaped. We found the trail surface to be in excellent condition and an easy ride. There were numerous port-a-potties along the trail. Nice places to stop for rest and/or refreshment in Springfield and Lyons. Scenery was the usual Wisconsin farmland, which personally I greatly enjoy. The only reason I'm not giving this the full 5 stars is that I would like more shade. Wait a few years until the trailside trees are a little taller :)
Have ridden the western portion many times. I would rate it easy to moderate, with a little more incline as you head west towards Elkhorn with the last mile all downhill. There can be a fair amount of traffic but, it never seems crowded. There are outdoor restrooms in Elkhorn and Springfield. Lyons has a full service food mart and Springfield has a limited menu but, their smoothies are great on a warm summer day. You can see deer, coyotes, snakes, many chipmunks and the usual farm animals. Round trip is 23 miles not including the extra 1 1/2 miles in Elkhorn. This trail is well maintained with the occasional chipmunk hole and all road crossings are well marked. People are friendly and upbeat.
I rode from the Elkhorn trailhead (where I parked my car over night) to Richard Bong State Park and back. The trail was well maintained, packed limestone. I really enjoyed stopping in Springfield--great place to rest and have something cool to drink. Very friendly! You can also get food and drink (or a hotel room) in Lyons. My only problem with the trail is that it ends on the western edge of Burlington and you have to navigate your way through town and find where the trail begins again on the east side of town. If you're a first timer, I recommend getting good directions before trying to make this transit. The path through town is circuitous and not well marked. Once outside of town, the trail is long and straight, and without a lot of shade. I found this the most wearisome part of my journy. I enjoyed camping in Bong state park--there's a small lake with a beach and swimming, which I really enjoyed after a long hot day of biking.
A very well maintained trail. Started at the Burlington entrance. Plenty of parking. Enjoyed the ride past scenic views of "America's Dairyland "...Although trail is described as flat, there is an elevation as you head toward Elkorn. Nothing major,but I thought I'd add that. Nice canopy over much of the trail. Very nice on hot weather days. This trail does have a moderate amount of traffic, so the " Good Morning" greetings are a pleasant welcome. There are nine bridges and four to five roads to cross, but all are very well marked. Overall, a very enjoyable ride.
Rode this trail a couple of times and found it very enjoyable. Nice and flat. The depot in Springfield is a great spot to take a break since it is about the mid point of the trail. I do suggest that you make sure you have enough water with you since there are only 2 spots where you can buy water or a cold drink if you choose.
The trail is very nice and easy for the whole family. Trail stops outside of Elkhorn and Burlington, and on the trail water is only available in the two small towns in the middle so bing a full bottle.
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"We rode from Elkhorn to Burlington and back in the late afternoon of an August day. There are enough trees to make it a nice ride. Need to keep an eye out for the gopher holes on the trail. We noticed a restaurant, the Old Hotel in Lyons and drove back there for an enjoyable dinner. We were surprised the trail does not go into Elkhorn or Burlington... merchants in those town are missing out on some business."
There is an old depot that has bike rentals and snacks.
Great place to stop...1/2 way between Burlington and Elkhorn. This trail is 5 minutes north of Lake Geneva.
"The rest of the trail from Lyons east to the county line has been finished, and it is very nice, though there is no parking at the eastern end yet. I park at Lyons and ride to Elkhorn, then it's more downhill on the way back. There is very nice scenery, with a real European feel in spots.
The surface is mostly good, except in a few bits where a yellowish stone was used, some caution is advised in those places. There are bars, restaurants, and a gas station-convenience store in Lyons."
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