Bash on a bike trail
In fall, kick up your wheels at a small-town festival or on a tour.
© Bicycle Alliance
On the Mankato River Ramble in southern Minnesota, cyclists stop in Rapidan for pie.
By the start of September, temperatures cool down and everyone starts thinking the same thing: Time to plan a weekend bike trip.
Autumn is a great time to try out a new bike trail, not only because of fall colors and invigorating weather but because so
many small towns throw harvest festivals in September and October.
Since trails go right through towns, bicycle tourists are right in the middle of the action.
Food always is the main draw, and there's nothing bicyclists like more than food. Grape harvests result in wine festivals and Oktoberfests in a river of beer; that goes over pretty well, too.
So why not pair a bike ride with a fun little festival? Here are great fests in 2012.
For organized bike tours, see Bash on a
Wisconsin bike trails
Elroy-Sparta Trail in southwest Wisconsin:
Sept. 8, Apple Dumpling Days in Elroy, at the heart of this 32-mile, three-tunnel trail in southwest Wisconsin.
For more, see Cycling in coulee
Old Abe State Trail in western Wisconsin: Aug. 31-Sept. 3, Lion's Sturgeon Festival in Jim Falls. Sept. 8, Pork in the Park in Cornell. Sept. 21-23, Oktoberfest in Chippewa Falls.
Follow the Chippewa River on this 19½-mile trail between Chippewa Falls and Cornell, named for a ferocious Civil War mascot.
For more, see A trail for Old Abe.
Sugar River State Trail in southern Wisconsin: Aug. 31-Sept. 2, Wilhelm Tell Festival in New Glarus. Sept. 28-30, Octoberfest in New Glarus.
Sept. 29, Autumn Fest and Sugar River Tour, Brodhead. Oct. 6, Fall Festival in Albany. Oct. 7, Harvest Fest in New
Since this 23-mile trail goes through Wisconsin cheese country, connecting to the Badger State Trail, food is bountiful and heritage strong.
For more, see Swiss at heart.
Badger State Trail south of Madison: Sept.
14-16, Green County Cheese Days in Monroe. Oct. 6, Tour de Cheese bike tour from Monroe.
Monroe is party central on this 40-mile trail from Madison's exurbs to the Illinois border. It intersects with the Sugar River at Monticello.
For more, see A slice of cheese country.
© Beth Gauper
Wisconsin's Badger State Trail slices through cheese country, where there are lots of fall festivals.
Military Ridge State Trail west of Madison: Sept. 2, Wright Stuff Century Ride. Sept. 8, Thirsty Troll Brewfest in Mount Horeb. Oct. 6-7, Fall Heritage Festival in Mount Horeb.
This 40-mile trail heads west from the Madison suburb of Fitchburg (linked to Capital City Trail) to Dodgeville.
Stower Seven Lakes Trail in western
Wisconsin: Sept. 13-16, Fall Festival in Amery. Oct. 6, Changing Colors Ride & Oktoberfest.
For more, see Savoring the Seven
Oct. 12-14, Covered Bridge Studio Tour, with artists from Mequon to Port Washington. Oct. 13-14, Oktoberfest in Cedarburg.
This paved 30-mile trail follows an old trolley line from the northern suburbs of Milwaukee to the tourist towns of Cedarburg and Port Washington on Lake Michigan.
For more, see Bicycling along Lake Michigan.
Minnesota bike trails
Paul Bunyan State Trail in northern Minnesota: Sept. 7-8, Heritage Days in Pine River. Sept. 8, Ethnic Fest in Walker.
Sept. 15, A Taste of Pequot Arts & Crafts Fair.
The Minnesota lakes country through which this trail cuts is unjustly forsaken when summer ends; the fall color there is as good or better than the display on the North Shore.
The Bunyan connects to the 47-mile Heartland State Trail just east of Akeley.
Southeast Minnesota and its bike trails, the 42-mile Root River and 18-mile Harmony-Preston Valley, are favorite destinations in fall.
For more, see Bicycling in bluff
This 55-mile trail between Fergus Falls and Osakis is at its best in fall, when prairie wildflowers are blooming and
migratory birds are on the move.
For more, see Bicycling the Central Lakes.
This 13-mile trail through the countryside south of Mankato connects to the 5-mile North Minnesota River Trail in town and
the 39-mile Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail.
For more, see Mankato meander.
Both tours include music and snacks at frequent rest stops on scenic, traffic-free river boulevards and parkways around
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