The quickly warming weather has many of us wanting to get out on our bikes again and the 400 State Trail north-west of Devil’s Lake State park is in pretty good condition at the moment.
The Wisconsin 400 State Trail is located between Reedsburg and Elroy and runs for 22 miles along the Baraboo river. The trail offers a variety of beautiful scenery including vibrant wetlands, sandstone outcroppings and rolling farmland. It’s also filled with wildlife, especially this time of year.
Last evening we decided to ride the 7 mile section from La Valle to Wonewoc. After a picnic dinner at Wonewoc’s Wayside Park (Where you can refill your water bottles at an artesian well.), we made the return trip back to our car for a 14 mile evening. This is our favorite section because it offers the most wetlands and wildlife along (and sometimes on) the trail.
Despite the recent heavy rains, the trail is in fairly good condition. There are hardened ruts here and there from people using the trail when it was still saturated. The folks at Wildcat Mountain State Park who take care of the trail, ask that if you are leaving ruts you shouldn’t use the trail. Ruts make it more difficult to grade the trail later in the season. (They are no fun to get your bike tires caught in either!!)
Riders this time of year also have to remember that fallen trees and branches are not being cleared. (This wasn’t an issue on the LaValle/Wonewoc section.) Bathrooms and water fountains along the trail are closed this time of year as well. You can expect the bathrooms to open and trail maintenance to begin in mid-May. Until May, you can find restrooms fairly easily in Reedsburg, Wonewoc and Union Center. (Mostly of the Gas Station variety.)
Wildlife lovers will enjoy the trail right now as there are a large variety of migratory ducks, geese and cranes to see along the route. You always see the most wildlife this time of year! There are turtles sunning themselves on logs and lots of song birds darting in the tree branches. (A note to birders, we found lots of yellow-rumped warblers out there last night!) We also saw lots of deer along the way as well. Our big wildlife experience of the evening was watching 3 deer run through the woods and flush out a barred owl, who zipped into a nearby tree. Too bad we had the wrong camera lens and couldn’t get any better shots!
A Wisconsin State Trail pass is required on the 400 trail. Passes are $5 a day or $25 annually for Wisconsin residents and non-residents alike. Trail passes can be bought by these local vendors along the trail. For more purchase options click here.