5 Wonderful Out-of-State Bike and Kayak Adventures
Welcome to the August 2021 issue of MILES PEDDLED (MP). The subject matter of this Month's edition will be 5 wonderful out-of-state bike and kayak adventures.
As usual, however, before we get to the subject at hand, management at MP has 2 postscripts which must be addressed; to wit: a very exciting announcement regarding the logo competition; and, an update regarding the IM Canal bike trail.
First, the long awaited and much anticipated announcement of the winner of the logo competition. Before management announces the winner, an explanation is necessary. As all of the very well educated subscribers to MP know, there are 2 ways to spell the word "pedalled/peddled." But, they have very different meanings.
The word PEDALLED, according to Merriam-Webster is the past tense for moving by working the pedals of a bicycle.
Whereas, the word PEDDLED, again according to Merriam-Webster, is the past tense of trying to sell or promote something.
Book recommendation: THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN: A TALE OF MURDER, INSANITY, AND THE MAKING OF THE OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY. As stated by the New York Times – The Professor and the Madman is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of 2 remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary – and literary history.
The uninitiated would select PEDALLED, but management at MP made the conscious decision to go the other route with PEDDLED. Why? Because MP is peddling informative and entertaining advice and recommendations. In the future, if all works out, MP hopes to peddle products to its very loyal subscribers in an effort to make ends meet. Playlist suggestion: MAKE ENDS MEET by Mixed Culture.
Now to the winner of the logo compe
tition. In second place with 48% of the vote was Logo No. 6.
In first place with 56% of the vote was Logo No. 5. Playlist suggestion: WINNING by Santana.
Management acknowledges that the numbers don't add up, but nothing ever adds up at MP. The September 2021 edition of MP will have the new logo as its cover page.
The second postscript is an update regarding the IM Canal. In the June 2021 edition of MP there was a beautiful description of the IM Canal bike trail. Recently, MP sent out an intrepid scouting party to ride the trail and they came back with the following information:
• Ottawa to Buffalo Rock State Park:
This is an approximately 5 mile segment of the trail. It is in better condition today that it has been in the past. It was a very easy ride.
• Buffalo Rock State Park to North Utica:
The locals refer to this 5 mile section of the trail as "Clark's Run." They insist that you listen to The Last Train to Clarksville by the Monkees when riding this section of the trail. This portion of the trail is in much better condition than in years past.
• Utica to LaSalle-Peru:
This is another 5 mile segment of the trail and has always been and still remains in good condition. The tour boat that is pulled by the mule is still operating.
Upon their return, the intrepid scout team from MP reported a very interesting observation that they made in North Utica. Specifically, there is a small Memorial at the north end of the main street that commemorates the individuals that died during the tornado that struck North Utica in April of 2004. Tragically, 10 people died in the tornado. On the plaque, it makes mention of the fact that 10 people died, 9 of which were in DUFFY'S TAVERN when the tornado hit. This is the type of town where management wants to be when the next tornado hits.
Now to the subject of the August edition – 5 of the best Midwest bike and kayak adventures. As stated in prior editions of MP, when kayaking in Wisconsin and some of Illinois and Michigan, the best guide that you can use is the excellent website MILES PADDLED: https://milespaddled.com. The 5 out of State combo adventures are as follows:
1. Kickapoo River
Start your trip with SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole.
• Books Recommendation:
Canoeing and Kayaking Wisconsin: The Rivers, the Towns, the Taverns by Doc Fletcher.
Kickapoo is an Algonquin Indian word meaning "he goes here, then there." The river twists and turns and you are never quite sure in what direction you are traveling, but you always feel like you are in a very special place.
The Kickapoo River sits in a pocket of southwest Wisconsin known as the "driftless region," which means that the glaciers bypassed this area. Since there were no glaciers to change the natural course of the river, it is considered to be one of the World's oldest river systems. The Kickapoo cut through layers of sandstone and shale resulting in outcroppings and leaves a deep valley with its own unique ecosystem.
Start your trip in Ontario, Wisconsin at Drifty's Canoe Rental right on the river. Make arrangements with Drifty's to either drop your car off at the termination point, or to livery you back to Ontario. Once you have launched, proceed down the river until you reach Bridge No. 5. Please note the bridges are clearly marked 1 through 5. You will then have paddled approximately six miles through some of the most beautiful landscape that can be seen in the Midwest.
Eight miles to the north of Ontario where you began your kayak trip, is the town of Wilton, Wisconsin. Wilton represents the approximate mid-point of the Elroy Sparta State Bike Trail, which is considered to be the first Rails to Trails in the United States and opened in 1967. It is a 32 mile trail that runs between Elroy, Wisconsin on the southeast end up to Sparta, Wisconsin on the northwest end. The trail passes through wetlands, prairies and the same driftless type of environment as the Kickapoo River. In addition, if you ride the entire trail, you will pass through 3 former train tunnels, which makes the trip a very unique experience.
If you wish to ride a little bit more, on the south end of the trail you can hook up with the 400 State Bike Trail; and on the north end of the trail, you will connect with the La Crosse River State Trail, which you can ride all the way to the mighty Mississippi.
2. Baraboo River
Start your trip with TEARS OF A CLOWN by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.
The general consensus is that the Baraboo River is named after the French trader, Francois Barbeau. The river is located in south central Wisconsin and is part of the Mississippi River watershed.
The website, Miles Paddled, has numerous recommendations with respect to kayaking the Baraboo River. The section that MP recommends is a short but exhilarating kayak, commencing at Haskins Park in Baraboo, Wisconsin, where there is ample parking and an excellent boat launch. You then proceed with the current, mostly to the east, and you travel through the City of Baraboo. When traveling through Baraboo, the river will take you through the former winter home of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. It is now a circus museum. Many clowns have ended their careers here, hence the playlist suggestion "Tears of a Clown."
You would then continue your journey for a few miles with your exit point just past the Route 113 bridge at Glenville Landing. Ample parking and an easy exit spot.
The entire trip is a little bit over 3 miles. During this trip you will experience some Class I and Class II rapids which are easily managed.
The trip outlined above can be done with 1 car, and the bike ride from your exit point at Glenville Landing back to Haskins Park is approximately a 3 mile bike ride. Baraboo is a very pretty town and has some nice restaurants and taverns to visit during your short bike ride.
If you are looking for a longer bike ride, then once you are done with your kayak trip, throw your bikes back on the car, drive approximately 14 miles to the northwest, and you will be at the beginning point of the 400 State Bike Trail in Reedsburg. The 400 State Bike Trail is another rails to trails and runs approximately 22 miles from Reedsburg to Elroy.
3. Michigan – Sleeping Bear Dunes Area
Start your trip with GOING UP THE COUNTRY by Canned Heat.
MP is going to recommend 2 rivers in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area. Both are beautiful and they are two of the cleanest rivers that management has ever paddled. In fact, in both rivers there were numerous individuals swimming and just floating down the river in innertubes. On one of the rivers, management at MP, at the end of their journey, took a nice river bath before going out to dinner. Fortunately, there are no pictures of the nude bathing.
Both of the rivers end on Lake Michigan. They provide a kayaking experience second to none.
The two recommended rivers are the Platte River which runs through Sleeping Bear Dunes at the south end, and the Crystal River, which is on the north side of Sleeping Bear Dunes and runs through the town of Glen Arbor.
There is way too much information that needs to be provided to kayak these two rivers. Numerous websites are available that provide the specific information. Both rivers are well worth the logistic planning – you will not be disappointed.
Since you have traveled this far, you need to ride at least two bike trails. The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail runs through the Sleeping Bear Dunes and has numerous historical landmarks and areas to stop and climb the dunes. A very enjoyable and robust ride.
The other recommended bike trail is the Leelanau Trail that starts on the south end in Traverse City and runs north between Lake Leelanau and the west Grand Traverse Bay and proceeds 18 miles north to Sutton's Bay. The entire trail is paved, and it is a very relaxing ride, particularly if you stop at one of the numerous wineries along the way. Remember IN VINO VERITAS – "IN WINE, THERE IS TRUTH."
4. Yahara River
Start your trip with GOOD DAY SUNSHINE by the Beatles.
The Yahara River name comes from the Ho-Chunk word "Maa'ii Yhara" meaning "catfish river." The river is located southeast of Madison, Wisconsin and runs from the north to the south through several lakes. It is open and sunny, and you will see herons, turtles, and deer. On a recent trip, the MP scouting expedition was lucky enough to watch a bald eagle patrol the river.
Miles Paddled has several recommendations for paddling the Yahara River. This humble publication of MILES PEDDLED recommends that you start your trip at the south end of the Lake Kegonsa State Park at the Lake Kegonsa Lock and Dam. Parking is available.
You would then paddle south through several wide and in some instances, marshy areas, into the town of Stoughton, Wisconsin. Your trip would end at Riverside Drive Park, just before the dam.
Stoughton is a Norwegian mecca. Every year it hosts a citywide celebration of Syttende Mai, which is the Norwegian Constitution Day. Invariably, if you attend the celebration you will see the Mad Viking in full regalia. Playlist suggestion: DANCIN' IN THE STREETS – Martha and the Vandellas.
This is an easy 1 car and bike trip. Once you have pulled your kayaks out at Riverside Drive Park, it is a short 5 mile easy bike ride back to the dam to retrieve your vehicle. On the way, approximately a half mile from the get out point, is a nice tavern/restaurant by the name of NAUTI NORSKE. You can sit outside on the river and have a nice meal and Norwegian cocktail to celebrate your paddle.
After you have finished your bike ride and retrieved your kayaks, MP suggests that you drive approximately 11 miles to the northwest and park your car at McDaniel Park. This park is on the eastern banks of Lake Waubesa. From this location, you can access the lower Yhara River Trail, which runs parallel to and has a one mile wood bridge over Lake Waubessa and enters into a County park. It is a very pretty and enjoyable ride.
6. Milwaukee River
MILWAUKEE SONG by Lauren Kruse.
Yes, MP is recommending a paddle down the Milwaukee River. No, it is not through downtown Milwaukee. Rather, you are going to commence you trip north of Milwaukee in the City of Grafton at Lime Kiln Park. A very interesting historical park that has plenty of parking and easy access to the river, which is very clean at this spot.
You will then paddle south down the river to the town of Thiensville where you pull out of
the river just before the dam at Village Park. This would be an approximately 10 mile kayak trip. It travels through several forest preserves and is a very enjoyable paddle.
This can be done with 1 car and bikes. If you have planned ahead and left your bikes at Village Park in Thiensville, you can then ride the Ozaukee-Interurban Trail, the approximate 9 miles back to your vehicle at Lime Kiln Park.
On the way back, you pass through the very enchanting Village of Cedarburg. In Cedarburg there are numerous restaurants and a winery. There are several bed and breakfasts in Cedarburg, but management at MP prefers the Stagecoach Inn Bed and Breakfast right on Main Street in downtown, a very quaint and comfortable Inn, and the owners could not be nicer. If you check out the website for the Stagecoach Inn, you will see a picture of an interior spa which brings back wonderful memories to management at MP.
As noted above, you will be riding on the Ozaukee-Interurban Trail. The trail itself runs from Kern Park in the heart of Milwaukee, north for the next 45 miles to
Oostburg, Wisconsin. Along the way, in addition to Cedarburg, several other nice towns in which to stop are Grafton and Port Washington.
Now on to this month's Trivia/Quiz section. The first part of the question is: What is a rails to trails; and the second part of the question is: What can you do as a cycling enthusiast to maintain and support the rails to trails system?
As usual, MP will once again use the authoritative source: DMANOPEDIA. For those subscribers that are not familiar with this source – shame on you. DMANOPEDIA is an amalgamation (plagerization) of information contained from multiple less authoritative sources.
What is a rails to trails? As with most great American ideas, it began in the Midwest. In the mid-1960's, as the railroad system began to lose its prominence as the main artery for the transportation of goods, railroads began to discontinue the use of unprofitable routes. Shortly thereafter, they began to pull out the tracks on these routes. Along came a group of outdoor enthusiasts who enjoyed nature and hiking. They began to walk these trails, which later morphed into the beginning of the rails to trails movement.
As noted above, the first formal rails to trails was the opening of the ELROY-SPARTA STATE TRAIL in 1965. This was soon followed by the opening of the Illinois Prairie Path, which starts on the east end in Forest Park, Illinois at the Des Plaines River, and runs more or less due west through several of the western suburbs to West Chicago. You can then go either north or south on the trail and hook up with the Fox River Trail. With a little pre-planning, you can then keep going west and hook up with the Great Western Trail which will take you all the way out to Sycamore, Illinois.
From the humble beginnings set forth above, throughout the United States, but particularly in the Midwest, the rails to trails system has grown, and now encompasses over 21,000 miles of trails. Many of the trails described in this and prior editions of MP are "Rails to Trails."
What can you do to support the Rails to Trails system? The simple answer to this question is join and support the RAILS TO TRAILS
Their website is: https://www.railstotrails.org. Join today and ride forever. MP will always support the Rails to Trails system!
Now, to the tease. What will be the subject matter of the September issue? Since, in the Northern Hemisphere, September is considered the first month of autumn, the September issue of MP will address some of the best biking and hiking combo adventures. Playlist suggestion: SEPTEMBER by Earth, Wind and Fire.
Time to go – as stated by Oscar Wilde: "Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.". Management at MP hopes that we are in the former category; but in reality we know we are in the latter category. Nonetheless, enjoy your August and until we meet again, remember to R, R & R!