Wisconsin, Madison, Badger State Trail
The Badger State Trail is a 40-mile linear bike path paved with crushed limestone in south central Wisconsin, heading south from Madison to the Illinois state line. The trail-bed occupies the former Illinois Central Railroad's Freeport to Madison line. It was converted to a multi-use path in 2006.
The Badger Trail connects to the Capital City, Military Ridge and Sugar River state trails and the Madison bikeway system. In Madison, the Badger State Trail corridor continues into the city along the Southwest Path. At the Illinois border, the Badger State Trail connects to the Jane Addams Trail which continues to Freeport, Illinois.
A remarkable feature of this trail is the Stewart Tunnel – a historic rail tunnel carved out of a stone hill that is 0.25 a mile long and 21 feet high.
The first 6 miles of the Badger State Trail are paved to Purcell Road, after which the surface gives way to crushed stone. Most of the scenery along the Badger State Trail is bucolic because of lazy creeks and quiet pastures.
There is a parking near the northern endpoint at Dawley Conservancy in Fitchburg, which also serves as the western trailhead for the Capital City State Trail. To approach this trailhead from the intersection of US 18 / US 151 / Verona Road and McKee Road, just take the McKee Road east. Ride 0.9 mile to South Seminole Highway, then turn left, go 0.4 mile more and turn left again into the parking for Dawley Conservancy. Take a short path behind the parking lot north for 0.1 mile to the Capital City State Trail, the turn left and ride until you meet the Cannonball Path and Southwest Commuter Path. Head north on Southwest Commuter Path to see the Badger State Trail.
Otherwise, to approach the southern endpoint of the trail, try to reach the trailhead in Monroe from SR 11 / WI Trunk Highway 11. You may park at Park Dr. Look. The southern endpoint is just about 8 miles south along the trail at Wisconsin – Illinois state line, which is also the northern terminus for the Jane Addams Trails.
The trail begins on Madison's West Side in Fitchburg at a major intersection of bike trails and runs south towards Monroe and eventually the Illinois state line to where the trail meets up with the Jane Adams Trail.
To be exact, the trail starts in Madison, south of Lovell Lane. Heading south on the Badger State Trail, you will cross that intersection of the Capital City State Trail and Cannonball Path. Ride 4 miles south of Bellville, Stewart Tunnel is waiting there. The tunnel is unique because it is built on a curve and visitors cannot see the other end when first entering the tunnel. Just to note here, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recommends that all riders walk their bikes through the entirety of the tunnel. As the tunnel is dark and cool and water from springs above can trickle onto the trail, flashlights and light jackets to guard against the dampness are also recommended.
After leaving the tunnel, ride five more miles to reach Monticello. Keep going and find a parking on your right on Pratt Road. This is also the stretch that the trail connects to Sugar River State Trail.
With the next five miles, you will pedal through wooded areas, farm fields, rolling hills and several pretty creeks and bridges. You may also see the small farming town of Streams. Monroe then only a few miles to go. Monroe is famous for the Swiss Colony gourmet food company, which is also called the “Swiss Cheese Capital of the USA”.
Lastly, ride some miles more to Clarno, last town in the state of Wisconsin. From here, it is just a short distance to the Illinois state line and Wuetrich Road, where the Jane Addams Trail located.
NOTE: A State Trail Pass ($25 annually/$5 daily) is required for bicyclists and in-line skaters ages 16 and older. Snowmobilers and ATV/UTV users must display either a Wisconsin registration or an ATV/UTV or snowmobile State Trail Pass. For information, please visit website dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/trailpass.html
64.038 km / 39.791 mi
440 m / 1,445 ft
488 m / 1,601 ft
340 m / 1,115 ft