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Wisconsin’s Wiouwash State Trail is named for the four counties it passes through: Winnebago, Outagamie, Waupaca and Shawano. Currently, 41 miles of the rail-trail are open in two disconnected sections, separated by a gap of approximately 30 miles.
The northern segment spans 19 miles between the small towns of Birnamwood and Split Rock in Shawano County. The majority of the route is shaded by dense tree cover. In Eland, the Wiouwash State Trail links with the 83-mile Mountain-Bay State Trail, which travels west to Weston and east to Howard.
The longer southern segment extends 22 miles from just north of downtown Oshkosh to Hortonville. Scenic views of Lake Butte des Morts dominate closer to Oshkosh, while prairie remnants and farmland stretch out as far as the eye can see along the remainder of the trail. North of Larsen, the Wiouwash State Trail connects to the Friendship State Trail along US 10. That trail continues eastward to Menasha and its stunning converted railroad trestle over Little Lake Butte des Morts. Passage through the Rat River Wildlife Area also offers numerous areas for birding, canoeing, and hiking.
Long-term plans call for connecting the two segments when the necessary right-of-way becomes available.
For the northern segment of the Wiouwash State Trail, parking is available in downtown Birnamwood, Eland, Wittenberg and Tigerton. All four towns can be reached from US 45.
For the southern segment, parking is available in Hortonville (Lakeview Avenue), Medina (Wisconsin Avenue/State Route 96), Larsen (County Highway T) and Oshkosh (Westwind Road, near the junction of US 45 and US 41).
Went for fall ride October 21, temperature 46 degrees - sunny
Started in Larson parked at a little park just off the trail. There was a Port-o-Potty(POP) there, but not sure it was for public use. The trail was in excellent condition with very few rough spots. There was a wet spot (just south of School rd) for about 100 yards...stay on the trail! We road side by side for > 98% of the time; very few people on the trail. The POP at Rt96 is, according to my wife, the nicest POP she's ever used. Its also just about half way between the towns. Went into town at Hortonville and ate at the little park on Black Otter Lake. Also checked out the old bank building(1916) and the Opera House (NOT the grand Ole type).
Had a great time, will do the Larson to Oshkosh leg some time, but the southernmost 3-4 miles are not as isolated and go into the town of Oshkosh near the lake. Even though the lake shore routing is nice (we checked it out), we like the out in the country feeling a little more.
I done this trail a few times love love it. There are getting to be lots of problems though. Mud , ruts, and holes from animals. Wood bridges need marking that they are slippery when wet, be careful. Still one of my favorite trails.
handicap, disabled, wheelchair, walker. parking. trash receptacles.
really nice flat, dry section of trail from hortonville southward.
These comments refer to the northern portion of the trail from Birnamwood to Eland. The trail is in good shape except for a few soft sports but should be easily negotiable by bikes with 32 mm tires. The trail doesn't appear to be heavily used. I met no other riders. Looking at Google Earth it would appear that the trail could be extended on the abandoned rail line the approximately 17 miles to Antigo. A possible project for Rail-to-Trails Conservancy?
Scenic, peaceful, and a journey through of Wisconsin's beauty.
We rode from Medina to Hortonville and back on this trail at the end of October. (4 miles each way) This was an absolutely beautiful trip with trees draping over the trail most of the way. It also included some beautiful marsh land and some bird filled meadows. There was a port -potty, some sitting areas and a picnic table for lunching in this short stint of the trail. I can't wait to ride this trail again in the summer time.
I've been riding this trail for 28 years and have found it to be one of the best in the state. It passes through nice quiet friendly little villages and has some of the best scenery around. I read the review about not being able to find Larsen, but it's there....along with a nice restaurant, a C store, and the Trailhead Park, well kept up with toilets and a pop machine. The trail goes around Larsen because the Larsen co-op would not allow usage past their establishment years ago....very short sited on their part as bicyclists tend to stop, buy pop, snacks, and ice cream.
My favorite part is north of Medina up to Hortenville. The trail is excellent, with cathedral overhanging trees. The trail intersects with the Friendship trail and has many places to park, goes through the rat river swamp and is beautiful wildlife viewing at dusk.
You may have to dodge the roadapples, and sometimes dog walkers don't keep their pets on leashes, but all in all, it's well used and enjoyed.
although we have biked on a lot of trails,this one was actually closer to our home than most and I did not know much about it. Chose a beautiful, sunny day and went 12 miles from Oshkosh and then 12 miles back. Never did find Larson but hope to do that the next time. Nice flat area with mostly crushed stone trail however a lot was also very hard dirt which was fine. Saw a woman on a horse, a few people walking their dogs, track team and basically people out to enjoy the trail. Many areas of the trail were with the high canopies of tree that met at the top and something I love to see, esp. viewing the trail from a distance.Lots of places to park and get on the trail at several roads that cross. Would also be great for families. I very much liked it and hope to return. Thanks to all the people who worked on these trails and on any of the trails in Wisconsin. It is much appreciated. As a side note, went to Becketts in Oshkosh afterward where they have happy hour and half priced appetizers. Great ending to a great trail.Hope to go back for the Larson to Hortonville route,
Started at the park in oshkosh and went to the 41 bridge. Took the short spur off the trail down to the river and watched fishermen and pleasure boats on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Continued over the wide bridge trail so. to the golf course on the road to hwy 21 over the bridge and back on the trail to the park.
We are in our 70s and 80s and had no trouble doing this loop. Great scenic level and wide trail.
Here's an informative video on the northern segment of the Wiouwash Trail.
It's a beautiful ride, and you won't see many people, but there are maintenance problems when you get a few miles south of Wittenberg that force bikes off the trail and on to a poorly marked rural road that eventually leads to Tigerton. It's best to start at the northern end of the trail at Birnamwood and travel south, and then turn around south of Wittenberg and head back north.
Oshkosh has upgrade the trail through the city and along water ways - it is very relaxing and enjoyable!! Plus Oshkosh has wonderful places to visit, The Paine Art Center and Outlet Mall many other places. Plus some great places to stay to make it a great place to get away. I would try the Hawthorn if you have small children, a great pool for them plus a full Hot Breakfast Buffet, AmericInn is great if you have older Children, great pool room and they have done amazing thing with their hotel... the Comfort Suites would add comfort to your visit and make you ready for a day on the trails or a great night of rest if you go to the trails first. Oshkosh has so much to offer the visitor and my family and I had such a great time walking across the newly added path along Hwy 41 or the mouth of the Fox River. Thank you Oshkosh for seeing value in adding this trail!
Just got home from a disapointing ride on the northern section from Wittenberg to Tigerton. The trail is flat and railroad grade but is poorly maintained for the cross bikes that we were riding. The trail is poorly maintained and poorly marked after mile five heading south. You end up in some grass mowed fields near corn crops and then sent into the woods with jutting rocks and big holes on the trail. I use the term trail very loosely. I later found about ten trail sign leaning against a tree in the woods. This trail is obviously not intended for a family outing and other sections north of Wittenberg to Eland are better maintained.
Very nice trail a little mud just south of old HWY 10 at Medina.This was our first outing for the year and your write says 22 miles from Oskosh to Hortonville. I believe that is wrong. We traveld almost 18 miles from Medina (old HWY 10) to Oshkosh. Lots of birds and small mammals just off the trail and there are a couple of rest stops at city parks just off the trail. Thanks for all you do and you may want to double check the mileage from Oskosh to Hortonville.
Also we had lunch at Fratellos just a couple blocks from the southern end of the trail. Good food and a microbrewery with a view of Lake Butte Des Morts. Very good day on the trail.
This commentary only applies to the trail between Tigerton and Eland. Apparently the trail is not frequently used by bicycles. I met no one on my ride. This is an easy trail to ride. Even after a week of rain, including the day before my ride, the trail surface is in good shape except for a few puddles and some easily avoidable down trees that partially blocked the trail. Because of caution on my part I rode with 2.2 inch tires but 1.5 inch tires would not have been a problem. I would not recommend road bikes with 25 mm or narrower tires. Wittenberg is a problem. The trail enters town but there is no indication where the trail exits. Wittenberg is small enough that riding North bound one can sort of guess where the trail has to be by looking for old railroad-type buildings. A more interesting problem is where the trail crosses Highway 29, a 65 mph four lane divided highway. (Having driven that road it is clear that WI drivers consider 65 on that highway the minimum speed.) Getting across required waiting for a break in Eastbound traffic, dashing to the median strip, catch your breath, wait for a break in the West-bound traffic and repeat the process. The attached photo was taken after I survived the crossing. My final problem was that at one point the trail ended abruptly at a corn field. A sign tells you which way to make the initial turn but from then on you are on your own to discover where the trail resumes. All-in-all it's a ride I would recommend, pretty country, saw deer and wild turkey, but the Highway 29 crossing made it more adventurous then I expected. The only facilities on the portion of the trail I rode are at Wittenberg.
I have biked on both sections of the Wiouwash trail and have enjoyed both. The northern section crosses the "Mounain-Bay" trail. Would be great if the southern trail end in Hortonville were extended to Tigerton. That would enable a person to travel by bike from Oshkosh to Wausau.
Planned to do this trip for months on bicycles and decided we must go even if the weather was funky. It had rained the night before so we knew it could be a bit dodgy. Well it was. Maybe a quarter of it was puddles still at 9am. Thankfully the trail seemed to be quite well maintained with either hard packed dirt or hard packed crushed stone. So even whilst riding through the water the mud was mostly non-existent - mostly. By 3pm almost all of the standing water had dissipated. Thank you Sun.
The trail is essentially flat with a few gradual sloping grades that were certainly manageable. It is a beautiful trail that offers more than enough room for bicycles to pass and goes through a mixture of open sunny pastures and fairly dense tree cover. I would say about half and half. The shade was welcome since the temps were in the 80s by 11am. Except for the occasional paved road one must cross (maybe a dozen) the ride is internal combustion free and the few farms you pass are the only signs of human civilization besides the fellow travelers. In 7 and a half hours of riding we probably met only a couple dozen walkers, riders and three horse folk - on a Saturday!
We were two, the wife and I, and we decided to tackle this trek on Raleigh 3 speeds. As it turns out, not a bad choice. There was some ambivalence in not knowing how rough the terrain was going to be and though a mountain bike would have certainly been a quicker machine, we were not that interested in the speed factor. There is so much to see, hear and smell. The willows (I think they were willows) that surrounded us at times - usually at creek crossings and swamps gave off a sweet scent that reminded us both of childhood adventures in similar locations. And speaking of crossings, coming upon the more than a dozen bridges was always a cause for a break. To stretch one's legs, nibble on an oat bar snack and sip from the water bottle at these mini-destinations was very enjoyable.
Though we didn't use them, the benches placed in a few locations are a nice touch. Thank you to whoever has donated these. There was even a BBQ grill about 4 miles in from Hortonville! Near Larson which is aprox half way there are several picnic tables at this mid-trail head parking lot. This trail head also has a vending machine that has the usual soda pop and Gatorade.
We started the ride from the Oshkosh trailhead that begins at Westwind Rd. Or I should say what is left of Westwind Rd. Because of the extensive construction in this area they have - temporarily I hope - eliminated the parking lot at this location. To actually get to where the trail begins we had to slog through 50 yards of ankle deep mud and then go around a curious barricade. Coming back we were able to find a detour about 100 yards on the west side that brought one onto Bellaire Lane and back to Westwind. We don't know what is beyond all this construction mess as you go towards the cemetery and eventually Frattellos since we defied convention and crossed over the Butte des Morts bridge via the paved service road on the west side. But I imagine Marine Dr is open since it services a couple businesses. Let's just hope they get this job done soon and put the landscape back to where it can be used again. I'm sure they will.
From the Westwind trailhead on the south end to the Hortonville trailhead on the north we measured almost exactly 20 miles. We figure it was another mile to get to downtown Hortonville and another 2 miles to Charlies drive-in where a hamburger, fries and a rootbeer float were welcome and consumed with vigor. From the south trail head to Fratello's maybe 2 miles.
Our jaunt took us 9 hours and covered the extra 4 miles it took from home. All in all 52 miles. Considering we stopped to soak in the bucolic surrounding on a frequent basis, took some photos, glassed the sand dunes for Bank Swallows (also saw a couple Blue Birds and one Cat Bird) and had to bushwack to find the southern trailhead I think we made respectable time. The Raleighs held up fine even after the slight rear end collision from wife when in my exuberance I braked hard to avoid a lumbering turtle that apparently was not taught to look both ways before you cross.
A lovely day on a lovely trail. Thanks to all who have made this possible.
Rode this trail from Tigerton to Wittenberg, where I connected with "Mountain-Bay" trail which continued on to
Weston. Very nice ride with lots of fall color in 2nd week of October in 2009.
There are several beautiful murals along the trail in Wittenberg. The old rails once ran right through town. The organization known as Walls of Wittenberg, Inc. has artists paint murals on businesses around town. Check out the train mural when on the trail. Visit the mural website, http://www.wallsofwittenberg.com/.
The trail from the Tigerton area, through Wittenberg, and up towards Eland is in excellent condition. Near Wittenbeg, there are five bridges that cross the Tiger Creek. I've seen several white-tailed deer along the way and it's true wilderness area. The hardwoods forest scenery is beautiful. I especially enjoyed the birch and tamarack tree-lined paths. There's a fairly new sheltered rest stop near Wittenberg. Great trail!
Web Link for the Outagamie County portion of the trail--Hortonville and Medina.
"In the 8 years since I first rode the Shawano County part of trail in 1997, the grass has grown over the limestone surfacing in many areas. It looks like this trail gets little use, especially south of Wittenberg and north of Eland. There are some gaps in the trail that have to be bypassed using paved back roads or US 45 (US 45 averages 4500 vehicles a day and has 3 foot paved shoulders in the Tigerton area.) "
"This is a very well maintained and easy trail for beginners to ride on. The whole trail is 20 miles and there are several spots to view cranes, geese, ducks and many other birds.
The trail goes by the Fox River Trail System where you can see lots of Wisconsin birds in their natural habitat. There are several spots along the trail with benches to rest on and view the birds and animals.
I ride this trail almost every Sunday for a round trip of up to 40 miles. There is a new parking lot at the intersection of Y and 110 that is a great place to start at. You can go ten miles round trip along the Fox River into the city of Oshkosh or go north to Hortonvelle.
I enjoy this trail quite often."
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