Roads and trails that lead to autumn splendor
Want to catch an eyeful of fall color? In no particular order, here are ten great auto tours and trails to help you get the most out of the best days of fall.
1. Beautiful Byway
The entire 250-mile Wisconsin Great River Road is a fall color treasure. Whether you start at the northern or southern end of this National Scenic Byway, you’re going to find brilliant autumn views. To plan your Wisconsin Great River Road journey, visit www.wigreatriverroad.org.
2. Classic Crystal
Boulder Junction offers several excellent bicycling trails. But if you have to pick one this fall, choose the 11-mile Crystal Lake Paved Trail. The trail begins in downtown Boulder Junction and skirts the edges of several lakes as it winds its way through the forest. Find out about this and other Boulder Junction trails at www.boulderjct.org.
3. Fantastic Fall Forest
Black River Country is truly unique, offering a mix of tall yellow pines, winding rivers and interesting rock formations. There’s no place like it in Wisconsin. You’ll find hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the Black River State Forest as well as the Jackson County Forest. During the fall, the scenery is absolutely exquisite. Find out more about exploring Black River Country this fall at www.blackrivercountry.net.
4. Big River Biking
Pedal your way down the Mississippi River on the 24-mile Great River State Trail. Starting in Onalaska and running along the river to Trempealeau, you’ll enjoy stunning views of the Mississippi River Valley. The most exciting section of the trail crosses the Black River on a 287-foot former railroad trestle. Plan your trip at www.discoveronalaska.com.
5. Magnificent Marsh
The autumn highlight of Dodge County is Horicon Marsh, a huge wetland that attracts thousands of birds. Take the 50-mile Horicon Marsh Parkway for great views of the marsh and the surrounding countryside. Just follow the signs. For more information on the Horicon Marsh, visit www.horiconmarsh.com.
6. Railroad Ride
Just minutes from Milwaukee, you’ll find one of the best bicycle rides in the state. The Eisenbahn State Trail runs for 25 miles through the rolling countryside. Because the trail runs along a former railroad corridor, the trail is quite level. (The name Eisenbahn is German for railroad.) A paved section of the trail runs for five miles through the heart of the charming community of West Bend, where you’ll find shopping, dining and lodging. Plan your railroad ride at www.wbachamber.org.
7. Pheasant Branch Frolic
Even though it is surrounded by a bustling community, Middleton’s Pheasant Branch Conservancy is one of the most serene places in the entire Midwest. The conservancy protects an important source of groundwater for area lakes. It is home to an amazing number of rare plants and animals. Fall is the best time of the year to visit this ecological gem and walk the nature trails. Learn more at www.visitmiddleton.com.
8. Trout Lake Loveliness
In an area replete with outstanding hiking trails, the one-mile North Trout Nature Trail is in a class of its own. Running through tamaracks, spruce and pines, the trail offers stunning waterscapes. During the fall, the view is truly unbelievable. Learn more about this and other Vilas County trails at www.vilas.org.
9. Mesmerizing Mountains
The Blue Hills Trail System gives the intrepid fall color enthusiast 23 miles of pure autumn glory. These rolling hills between Rusk County and Rice Lake really come alive in the fall. Bring your camera and capture the colorful variations of the hillsides. Find out about area lodging and amenities at www.ricelaketourism.com and www.ruskcountywi.com.
10. Wild and Wonderful
The Wild Goose State Trail in Dodge County runs for 34 miles through the heart of wild goose country. The Horicon Marsh, located just to the east of the trail, is an important stopping point for migrating Canada Geese. As you bike or hike the trail, you’ll enjoy great fall color to the soundtrack of goose honks. If that’s your cup of tea, the Wild Goose State Trail is the best thing going. Learn more at www.dodgecountywi.com.