Elroy-Sparta Trail FAQ

The four trails covered here - 400 State Trail, Elroy-Sparta, La Crosse River, and Great River Trail - are almost entirely crushed limestone surfaces. This type of surface is a very small gravel that packs down pretty hard, although it may be soft after a strong rain.

A few short sections are paved. On the Elroy-Sparta Elevation Charts web page, the paved portions appear in the charts as solid color. The striped parts, which make up the vast majority of the trail, are crushed limestone.
There are three tunnels on the Elroy-Sparta Trail:
  • Tunnel #1 is about 3.75 miles west of Kendall, and about 6 miles east of Wilton. It is approximately 1/4 mile long.
  • Tunnel #2 is midway between Norwalk and Wilton - about 3 miles from each town. Tunnel #2 is around 3/4 mile long.
  • Tunnel #3 is located 4 miles west of Norwalk, and 8 miles east of Sparta. Elroy-Sparta Tunnel #3 is 1/4 mile long.
Click any of the above links to see the tunnel locations on a map.

The tunnels are lighted, but we recommend using headlamps.
The 400 State Trail, between Reedsburg and Elroy, allows equestrian use. Horses are not allowed on the rest of the trail from Elroy to Marshland (Sparta-Elroy, La Crosse, and Great River Trails).
Neither cross-country skiing nor snowmobiling are permitted between Reedsburg and Onalaska (400, Sparta-Elroy, and La Crosse Trails). However, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are allowed on the Great River Trail between Onalaska and Mershland.
All four of the trails that make up this route were originally railroad rights-of-way. So as you would expect, it's mostly flat. Any inclines tend to be long and gradual rather than sharp.

Check out the Elroy-Sparta Trail Elevations web page for elevation charts and more details.
Yes, a Wisconsin State Trail Pass is required for biking, but not for walking or hiking. A pass is also required for horseback riding, which is only allowed on the 400 State Trail (Reedsburg to Elroy).

You can buy daily or annual passes.
Report trail problems to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at 888-936-7463.

Please try to offer as specific details as possible, for example "there's a tree partially blocking the trail two and a half miles east of Sparta"