Some 50 years after becoming the nation’s first rails-to-trail conversion, Wisconsin’s 32.5-mile Elroy-Sparta State Trail is still a great place for folks to enjoy a range of trail experiences.
My son and I biked the trail June 24 with 10 of Sam’s fellow Boy Scouts in Troop 293, sponsored by Trinity Lutheran Church. Eight adults also made the trip, which included overnight camping outside of Elroy, where the trail’s eastern terminus meets up with Wisconsin’s 400 Trail, and at the western end in Sparta, where it joins the Lacrosse River State Trail.
Elroy-Sparta introduced me to Wisconsin’s incredible trail system three years ago. The system is among the best in the country, and Elroy-Sparta makes an excellent destination for users of all ages and abilities.
Seeing it once more with many of the same scouts and adults from that 2014 trip was a pleasure, because it was one of those great reminders of the value of working together to reach a common goal.
Something for everyone
Elroy-Sparta’s web site (www.elroy-sparta-trail.com), run by its friends of the trail group, notes that the trail was established in 1965, but other sources put its inception in 1967. The trail’s birthdate may depend on how one chooses to define that.
Some say it began the year the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad pulled up its rails between the two towns and offered the right-of-way to the former Wisconsin Conservation Department (now Department of Natural Resources) for $12,500.