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BIKING AND CAMPING TREKS - April 2024

"The woods are lovely, deep and dark, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."

 

- Robert Frost from “Stopping by Woods on a Snowing Evening.”

 



There is nothing better than a long bike Ride, followed by Relaxing at the campfire and Rejoicing under the stars (R, R & R). Hence, this Month’s edition of MILES PEDDLED (MP) will outline several bike rides that can be done in conjunction with camping.  Please let it be known as: BIKING AND CAMPING TREKS.  Playlist suggestion:  TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS by John Denver.

 

Previous editions of MP have outlined several places to ride and camp.  Please see the June/July 2023 publication.  Past editions of MP can be accessed at www.milespeddled.com.

 

Before we get to the subject matter of this Month’s edition, however, Management has an announcement germane to the subject matter of camping; and, a postscript from last Month’s edition.

 

First, the announcement.  Anyone who has ever camped with a group knows that sometimes it can be a bit chaotic.  Consequently, every camp group needs a CAMP LEADER.  To this end, Management at MP is proud to announce that the RENAISSANCE MAN (RM) went through the extensive training to become a CERTIFIED CAMP LEADER.  RM successfully completed this rigorous course of study and received his diploma from the FRESH AIR ASSOCIATION (FAA) in January of 2024.  See the Gallery section of the digital version of MP.  Congratulations to RM.  Playlist suggestion:  ABOUT TIME by Lizzo.

 

Now to the postscript.  Please recall that in last Month’s edition Management described how the song We Are The World was made. It was noted in the trivia section, Question Number 6, that the producer of the song, Quincy Jones, did not request the presence of Madonna since he felt her voice was not “distinctive enough” to stand out in the crowd.  Rather, he chose Cyndi Lauper.  Management requested that its Loyal Subscribers (LS) watch the movie and see if they enjoyed the singing of Ms. Lauper.

 

In response, several LS commented that they felt that Ms. Lauper’s singing was a “bit over the top.”  Some suggested that Madonna would have been a better selection; whereas others questioned the decision not to invite Linda Ronstadt.  Playlist suggestion:  WHEN WILL I BE LOVED by Linda Ronstadt.

 

Now on to the subject matter of this Month’s edition – BIKING AND CAMPING TREKS.  Management will provide 3 places to camp with nearby biking.  We will start close to Chicago and then branch out.

 

Contrary to the assertion of the one and only critic of MP, THE MAD VIKING (MV), Management strives to under-promise and over-perform each month in this humble publication.  To this end, in addition to outlining the campground and nearby bike trek, Management will also throw in, free of charge, a kayak paddle that can be done at or near the campground.  For specifics regarding the paddle, please visit the wonderful website MILES PADDLED at https://www.milespaddled.com.  As most LS know by now, Miles Paddled was the inspiration for MP.

 

1.         LAKE LE-AQUA-NA

 

·       Camping:

 

LAKE LE-AQUA-NA (LLAN) is located approximately 130 miles northwest of Chicago, about 18 miles northwest of Freeport, Illinois.  Use Google Maps or the more enhanced DMAPS to find the park.  There is a beautiful State Park located right on the lake with camping open to the public.  You will be surrounded by woodlands, wildflowers, deer and may even get a glimpse of a badger.  Hiking, boating, fishing, and swimming can all be done in the park at the lake.

 

·       Biking:

 

There are 8.5 miles of bike trails inside the park.  The more adventurous ride, however, is approximately 10 miles to the east of the park where you can access the JANE ADDAMS TRAIL which is a rails to trails.  This trail will take you due north into Wisconsin where the name changes to the BADGER TRAIL and will eventually take you all the way into Madison, Wisconsin.  This is an approximate 50 mile trek, one way.

 

Another option is to take the Jane Addams Trail  to the Badger Trail north until it intersects with the SUGAR RIVER STATE RECREATIONAL TRAIL and then proceed northwest into New Glarus, Wisconsin affectionately known as “Little Switzerland.”  New Glarus is home to the New Glarus Brewing Company which makes some excellent brews only sold in Wisconsin.  This would be an approximate 30 mile trek, one way.

 

·       Kayaking:

 

About 6 miles east of the campground is the Pecatonica River (Indian for “crooked stream”) which flows down from Wisconsin, through Freeport and then into the Rock River. It is surrounded by woods and farmland.  This is a nice leisurely paddle with the flow approximately 2 mph.  Check out the website www.illinoispaddle.com for more information.

 

The portion of the river that is outlined for a paddle runs parallel to the Jane Addams Bike Trail and the bike trail is only about 5 miles to the east of the river.  Consequently, with a little planning this paddle can be done as a bike and kayak combo using only 1 vehicle.  Management at MP would be delighted to help with the logistics of this combo, provided that the editorial staff is invited on the journey.

 

·       Playlist Suggestion:

 

PECATONICA MUD by the Midwesterners.

 

2.         WILDCAT MOUNTAIN STATE PARK

 

·       Camping:

 

WILDCAT MOUNTAIN STATE PARK (WCMSP) is an approximate 4-hour drive northwest from Chicago, but once you get there you will realize that the camping, biking, and kayaking is well worth the journey.  The park is located on a ridge rising steeply above the KICKAPOO RIVER offering spectacular panoramic views of the river and surrounding forest.  There are 21 miles of scenic hiking trails that meander through the park.  This is the 76th anniversary of WCMSP.

 

·       Biking:

 

Approximately 11 miles to the north of the campground is the little town of WILTON, WISCONSIN which is the half-way point on the ELROY-SPARTA STATE TRAIL.  According to DMANOPEDIA, the Elroy-Sparta State Trail was the first rails to trails in the Nation.  From Elroy on the southeast to Sparta on the northwest the trail is approximately 35 miles, and you will go through 3 train tunnels.  As noted above, Wilton is the half-way point so you will have the choice of going either direction for approximately 17 miles.  This is an historic and beautiful ride.

 

·       Kayaking:

 

The gem of this journey is kayaking the Kickapoo River which is a 126 mile long tributary to the Wisconsin River running through the driftless section of Wisconsin. Go the website MILES PADDLED where 5 paddling options are outlined in exquisite detail.  As stated in the MILES PADDLED:

 

“The Kickapoo is an absolutely gorgeous river, flowing through one of the most beautiful areas of Wisconsin.  By canoe or kayak, you must experience the paddle from Ontario to Rockton.  It’s as pretty and scenic as a paddle gets in Wisconsin.”

 

NOTE:  In the town of Ontario, Wisconsin there are several places to rent kayaks and drop right into the river.

 

·       Playlist Suggestion:

 

TAKE ME TO THE RIVER by Al Green.

 

NOTE:  More to following regarding the Kickapoo River in the trivia/quiz section.

 

3.        BRUNET ISLAND STATE PARK

 

·       Camping:

 

BRUNET ISLAND STATE PARK (BISP) is an approximate 5 hour drive northwest  from Chicago.  This is a Wisconsin State Park located on a 169-acre island in the CHIPPEWA RIVER.  Directly from the campground you will have access to biking the OLD ABE TRAIL (OAT) or dropping directly into the Chippewa River.  It could not be any easier.

 

·       Biking:

 

As noted above, directly from the campground you can access the Old Abe Trail which runs south from the campground through the town of Eau Claire and ends 64 miles later in Durand, Wisconsin.  It is a beautiful ride that goes through forest and quintessential Wisconsin villages.  In addition, there is a bridge that goes over Lake Wissota. The name “Wissota” is a combination of “Wisconsin” and “Minnesota.” Very clever these Cheeseheads. On the ride, stop in Eau Claire and visit the shops and restaurants. There is a beautiful area at PHOENIX PARK right on the trail where the Chippewa River intersects with the Eau Claire River.

 

·       Kayaking:

 

As previously mentioned, you can drop right into the Chippewa River from the campgrounds.  Several years ago, SANDARELLA lead an MP expedition down the Chippewa River into the City of Eau Claire.  This was done as a bike and kayak combo using the OAT.  I am sure if you contacted her she would be delighted to help you with the logistics.

 

·       Playlist Suggestion:

 

UP AROUND THE BEND by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

 

Recommendation from MILES PEDDLED TRAVEL (MPT):  All of the camping, biking, and kayaking outlined above is spectacular, so why not combine them all into one trip?  Start at Brunet Island and work your way back south through Wildcat Mountain State Park and finish your journey at Lake Le-Aqua-NaMPT is available for consultations, obviously at the right price.  Playlist suggestion: RUNNIN’ DOWN A DREAM by Tom Petty.

 

Time for this Month’s Trivia/Quiz section.  As noted above, the questions will be about the KICKAPOO RIVER.  The answers will be in the postscript section.

 

1.         How did the Kickapoo River get its name?  From a now extinct small rodent; From a fern plant that thrivers in the microclimate of the river; from the Indian tribe that first inhabited the area; or, from the European Settlers who had to “kick the poo” off their boots.

 

2.         Why is the Kickapoo River important?  It is one of the oldest river systems in the world; it was a major source of transportation through the Wisconsin territory; tourism; or all of the above.

 

3.         How deep is the Kickapoo River?  8’ to 10’; 6’ to 8’; 4’ to 6’; or 1’ to 4’.

 

4.         What fish are in the Kickapoo River?  Catfish; trout; walleye; or bass.

 

5.         What is the most scenic part of the Kickapoo River?  The entire river; the portion of the river that you kayak; or, both.

 

 

TEASE TIME:  Please recall that the Inaugural Edition of MP, which was published in May of 2021, addressed the issue of: Ebikes – Are They Cheating?”.  The definitive answer as provided in this Edition was “No.”  The Third Anniversary Edition of MP will address the question of: Ebikes – Are They The Future Of Biking?”.

 

Time to go, but please remember: “It’s not the days in life we remember, but rather the moments.” – Walt Disney.  Enjoy every moment in your life and remember to R, R & R!


 


 

POSTSCRIPT:

 

Answers to Trivia/Quiz Section:

 

1.         Name:

 

The river is named for the KICKAPOO INDIANS who occupied Wisconsin before the influx of white settlers in the early 19th century.  “Kickapoo” is an Algonquin word meaning “one who goes here, then there,” which is a fitting name for this river which is very crooked and frequently doubles back on itself.  In fact, there is legitimate argument that the Kickapoo Rivers is the most crooked river in the world.

 

2.         Importance:

 

Because the glaciers missed the driftless area in and around the Kickapoo River, the river itself did not change its natural course.  The Kickapoo River Valley is one of the oldest river systems in the world.  In some areas the bluffs on either side of the river rise 350 feet and are known as the Ocooch Mountains, named after the indigenous tribe, that lived in homes along the hills of the river.

 

3.         Deep:

 

The water depth of the river typically runs from 1’ to 4’.  This is plenty deep enough to kayak, but please note that in the summer months the river can become very shallow.  Accordingly, if you are going to enjoy this paddle do it in the spring when the river is running high.

 

4.         Fish:

 

The most abundant fish in the Kickapoo River is a mixture of brown and brook trout.  In fact, the Kickapoo River has the second highest catch rate of brown trout in the driftless area.

 

5.         Scenic:

 

This is a trick question.  You will only know the answer after you have taken this spectacular paddle.  According to Wisconsin River Trips, however, one of the most scenic parts of the river is “Bridge Number 4 to Wildcat Landing” which is an approximate 3-mile paddle that flows past steep hillsides and at least 16 outcroppings.  Go check it out for yourself.  Playlist suggestion: INTO THE MYSTIC by Van Morrison.

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