2016 Trail Explorers

The Dalby Family: Tim, Aiden and Julien

July 30 – Jane Addams Trail
Since we live in Monroe and regularly ride from Monroe to Orangeville, we decided to load up the bikes and start from there.

It was a typically hot, humid and sunny day for a thirty-mile round trip to Freeport.

We had to keep moving to fend off the mosquitoes, but enjoyed the sights and sounds of the varied wildlife along the Jane Addams Trail.

At the start in Orangeville
The boys did a great job and were rewarded with an ice-cream from the Union Dairy once we’d found the trailhead at Tutty’s crossing.

This provided just the right amount of energy for the return journey
Halfway there - At Tutty's Crossing in Freeport
August 7 – Badger State Trail
For the Badger State Trail we were dropped off in Madison and rode home.

We have ridden from Monroe to Monticello regularly, and have taken several trips through the tunnel between Monticello and Belleville, but this was the first time we had all ridden from Madison to Monroe non-stop.
Finding answers in Fitchburg
We commute daily from Monroe to Madison and back, so taking a slower, different and more scenic route was exciting.

Although we recognized where we were, we were afforded a new perspective on the towns and villages we passed, as well as the wealth of wildlife dwelling so close to the beaten track.
On the trail between Madison and Belleville
It was another hot day, but water and rest stops are never far away, and the tunnel provided a much-needed respite from the sun and the heat.

It took us around 2 ½ hours to cover the thirty-five-mile journey. We arrived back in Monroe tired, but happy that we’d had done it.
Rest stop on the Sugar River Trail in Monticello
August 26- Sugar River Trail
We had ridden from Monticello to Brodhead back in early May, before enrolling in the Explorer Program, but had not ridden the portion to New Glarus.

I couldn’t persuade the boys to do the entire trail, so we compromised and went from Albany to New Glarus, with an ice-cream stop in Brodhead.
An early rest stop just outside Albany
We had a lot of fun on the bumpy bridges and loved seeing the slight change in colors that come with early fall.

Wildlife was, again, abundant, and we even saw a few snakes (not scary at all).

Reaching New Glarus
Even though we still had to ride back, we felt a great sense of achievement on reaching New Glarus. We had finally completed all three trails.

It was a lot of fun and gave us time as a family to connect and enjoy the facilities we have so close to home.
Back to our start point and ready for ice-cream

The Perkins Family: Mom Sara, Grandma Sue, Mom Sara, Tony & Mia

The ability to earn a badge biking the Badger State Trail was the inspiration for a family outing.

Our group consisted of Grandma Sue, Mom Sara, Tony (age 6) and Mia (age 3).

Mia did the trail on her mother's tag-a-long.

Grandpa Don served as our 'support team' driving us to one location and then picking us up at a spot further down the trail.

We also had Grandpa meet us on Tunnel Road so that he too could go through the railroad tunnel.

We did the trail in 5 segments which was just enough for Tony.

After completing each segment, we talked about what we saw while having lunch at a local restaurant.

At the end, Tony said, "it was the bestest I ever rided. I really liked the trees and rocks around us".

Mia definitely didn't like the tunnel, but she loved the ride and the railroad bridge by Belleville was her favorite spot.

The trail was a perfect ride for our family.

We all loved the varied landscape which gave us something to look at and talk about when we stopped to rest.

We plan next year to bike the Sugar River and Jane Adams.

Thanks for the trivia questions and ability to earn a badge on this trail.

Alex Henry

April 23rd - Today was a great day for biking a good chunk of the badger trail and all of the Sugar River Trail. It was a nice, sunny 65 degrees, perfect for a bike ride. We live near the trail in Monroe, which makes it very convenient to access the trail. We began the day at 11:30, and made a lunch stop near mile 27 on the badger. Soon, we arrived in Monticello, at which we switched over to the Sugar River Trail, and rode up to New Glarus. We picked up some treats at the New Glarus Bakery and chowed down near the church. Next, we continued on our ride to Albany. I was pleasantly surprised by how serene this portion of the trail was. Once in Albany, we took a well deserved rest at Water Tower Park. Then it was on to Brodhead. This portion of the trail was quite narrow, of all the rail trails I have been on, this was definitely the most narrow portion of trail I've seen. We took a short stop at the covered bridge, and then it was just the last few miles to Brodhead, where we rested at Veteran's Park. After passing some time, we got picked up by my mom, who was on her way home from work in Janesville.
May 15th - This was a very short ride because we were short on time, but wanted to get a nice ride in. We drove up to the railroad depot in Monticello from Monroe, and began our short ride to just past the Stewart Tunnel and back. I rode with my mom this time. It is amazing how built up the trail is between the tunnel and S. Tunnel rd. It was definitely a marshy area, and with the weight of those trains, it had to be built up quite high. We walked through the tunnel, which was very refreshing. It was a quick ride back, and we arrived in Monticello again about 45 minutes later.

May 21st - For this segment of the trail explorer quest, we would ride from the tunnel up to Madison, completing all of our riding north of Monroe. We were dropped off at Tunnel Road South by my mom, it would be my dad and I riding. As for mom, she would go run errands in madison and pick us up there.The trail was definitely more lush green than the last to rides, and it was a warm 70 degrees, too. It was a 2 1/2 hour ride to Madison. Once we arrived, we took a loop on the Southwest bike Path to the Capital City Trail, and we finished up at the parking lot at Dunn's Marsh in Fitchburg, where we got picked up. I was amazed by how much Madison caters to bikes, I already knew it was a bike friendly city, but i was appalled by the network of bike paths and lanes. There are even stoplights for bikes? Who knew! By the time we finished our ride in early afternoon, we were quite tired. Only one ride to go
August 11th - It's been a while since the last ride since it's been a busy summer. For today's ride we (my Mom and I) got dropped off near the Wes Block trailhead. It was cloudy most of the ride, and sprinkled a bit too, but at least it kept the heat down! The trail overall was much nicer than I expected it to be, it as almost entirely lined with nice big trees. We even saw two deer along the trail! At Orangeville, we got sandwiches at the gas station, and ate under the nice shelter there. It was delicious and filling. After Orangeville, it wasn't long until the state line, where we saw a very young kitten we felt sorry for. This portion of the Badger trail was very familiar as I have ridden north and south of Monroe many times. It was about 40 minutes, and we were back home to Monroe.

Chris Langbehn

It all started out on a routine ride from Belleville, where I live, to Purcell road. It was hot that day and I was taking a quick break at the trail head there when I noticed the Trail Explorer brochure. Intrigued, I took a look and thought to myself that this could be fun. It seemed to be just what I needed since my rides where starting to become almost too routine and without the sense of adventure that they used to provide.

Before doing this challenge, I typically would not ride more than 20 miles at a time. This meant 10 miles one way and 10 back always. That proved to be the real challenge for me ultimately with accomplishing the complete ride. I pretty much always ride solo so I needed to break this up into multiple rides. And that is what I did, basically making the complete adventure 152 miles instead of just 76.

Here is how it turned out:

Belleville to Monticello (and back)

This is another ride that I regularly do. Sometimes through the tunnel and sometimes taking Tunnel Road that goes up above it and meets back up with the trail. Keeping in the spirit of this being a trail exploration, I took the tunnel both ways. Having been riding through it for a while now, it still has a sense of adventure to it somehow.

On this time through, I stumbled into the DNR inside. This has happened once before too on an early morning ride. Nothing gets the blood flowing like meeting a truck inside the tunnel! There is just enough room to walk along the rubble on the side of the tunnel to get around a vehicle if you ever encounter one in there.

On the other side I was coming up on one of my favorite areas on this ride. Where you come out of the wooded area and the hillsides drop on both sides of the trail, leaving you with an awesome view of the surrounding area. Shortly after that you are running parallel almost with the Sugar River Trail on into Monticello. I like to ride to the small lake in Monticello also. It is a break from the trail for about a mile on pavement.

No excitement on the way home. Just a push in upward elevation to the tunnel but all downhill for the most part back into Belleville.

Belleville to Purcell Rd (and back)
I was in need of some time to think about how I wanted to break up the Trail Explorer complete ride so I figured I would start by going back out to Purcell Rd to ride and think about how I wanted to accomplish this challenge. I have done this ride many times before but on this particular ride, I started out later in the evening and it was starting to get dark on me while on my way back to Belleville.

I have a light on my bike so I turned that on and could just catch a shadow of a bat or two swooping down the center of the trail catching their fill of mosquitoes for the night. You can recognize them by their irregular flight pattern. About half way back, it was dark out and I was really relying on the light to see.

About this time, something large came tearing through the brush up above the trail I did not see what it was, as I just kept moving along trying not to eat too many bugs as I was pedaling faster. (I’m pretty sure this was a deer as it really made some noise)

Anyway, I made it back home and was excited to plan another ride to work towards accomplishing the final goal of Trail Explorer.
Purcell Rd to Verona Rd (and back)
This was probably the part of the challenge that I was least looking forward to. I have been on the paved portion of the trail heading north into Fitchburg before. It is usually busy and has a few busy road crossings. I had not ever gone much further than the business park by Seminole Pool. This time though, I needed to see where this ended up and I was pleasantly surprised.

Amazingly, on a Sunday afternoon, there was almost no one out. I was really moving on the trail being so used to gravel and now getting some pavement to pedal on. The crossing at McKee Rd was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be and then I found myself going downhill into the southwest side of Madison.

The big bridge that overlooks the intersection of the other local bike trails was a stopping point for me to admire how nice Madison has done when creating recreational and commuting options for bicyclists.

Turning around near the Home Depot area, I was quick to realize why many were probably not out enjoying the trail. The wind was really blowing hard on the way back, which explained why I was going faster than normal on the way in I stopped to read a few of the signs along the trail on the way back and made sure to stop at the markers for the old train depot also.

Monticello to Monroe (and back)
This was one of my first attempts at a ride longer than 20 miles round trip. I started out trying to remember to count all of the bridges on the way to Monroe but found myself really taking in the countryside. Good thing the bridges are numbered. I was excited to venture into this section of the trail as I knew it would be new. I was surprised at the seemingly upward elevation going most of the way to Monroe.

There are some really beautiful and scenic areas that open up along this stretch and I saw very few people. Highway 11 was a welcome sight soon enough and I stopped at the trail head near Twining Park to rest up. The ride home felt almost all downhill. It was a great way to transition into a longer ride. At this point I was hooked on making the Trail Explorer challenge happen.
Monroe to Orangeville (and back)
Having done the previous ride the day before, I was excited to see what heading into IL would be like on the trail. Not even 2 miles into the ride and on the south side of Monroe, I came upon a big tree down over the trail. Vines had taken up the embankments on both sides and the most apparent way to get through was to literally go through the tree. I was able to maneuver through the branches and lift my bike over a main artery of the truck to get through.

I lived on the south side of Monroe as a kid for a few years and was pleased to see that the train tracks that I used to play near had become this great trail. Passing under the Hwy 69 bridge brought back memories of playing with friends under there so many years ago.

The trail south of Monroe has long, seemingly endless, straight stretches at times and really becomes quite un-maintained in spots. Coming up on the WI/IL border on the trail, was not at all what I expected. Instead of pot holes and having to pay a toll as I crossed into IL, exactly the opposite was the experience.

The Jane Adams trail widened out and became much smoother. No toll either! The ride into Orangeville was pleasant from there on out and I actually looked least forward to having to go back through the southernmost WI portion to get back to my car.

Orangeville to Freeport (and back)
Having experienced the big change from the Badger State Trail to the Jane Adams Trail, I was excited to finish riding this new trail. This was another long ride for me and it was a great experience. The trail follows a river for a good portion of the ride. There is a very forest-like feel to the trail as well, even though you can peek through to farm land. I was surprised again at how maintained the trail was. Seeing the old train depot buildings was a lot of fun. They looked frozen in time.

At the trail head along Hwy 26 I missed the black top turning point completely at first and went into the area of the scenic bridge. It is not a continuation of the trail but rather dead ends on an old bridge at a river crossing. It was worth the ride back there, but was not really maintained at all.

Coming back towards the parking lot, I noticed the paved trail that goes into Freeport. This was a nice break from the trail, at first. I wish I had saved a little more legs for the uphill portions but the fact that it was paved made all the difference. This was a nice ride into downtown Freeport.

I actually missed a turn where the trail turns into city streets and ended up at the Lincoln/Douglas famous debate site that was a neat piece of history. I found my way back to the trail from there and worked my way back up the paved hill and towards the trail again. I really enjoyed this section of the trail and soaked it all in on the way back also.

Monticello to Brodhead (and back)
Having completed the North/South stretch of the Trail Explorer challenge, I was looking forward to seeing the full Sugar River Trail. This was an enjoyable ride with the scenery ramping up about 2/3 the way to Albany. The Sugar River widens out in spots and bridge crossings become longer and more scenic.

There are a couple of spots that feel swampy and some that feel forested along the way. South of Albany the trail becomes quite overgrown and unmaintained. This continued for quite some time until a 90 degree curve suddenly appears in the trail. I thought this was odd but the trail goes around a new sub division and through a forest area but at the same time gets interesting again. There are some small elevation changes and a few s-curves to keep it interesting. Then suddenly you are in Brodhead. I rode into town and everything is clearly marked. Taking a break at the mural, I brushed up on the local history and I was off again.

I stopped at the covered bridge on the way back to gaze into the clear water below and then I made my way back.

About 2 miles from the car, a good size stick came up into my rear fender and pulled the chain stay fender support right out of the hardware, causing me to have to stop to make repairs while fighting a never ending onslaught of mosquitoes.

I got things hodged together good enough to get back to the car but deemed the damages to be a 1- or 2-beer follow up project to re-tweak and re-bend things back to normal.

This ride ended up being over 30 miles for me so I was happy to accomplish another longer ride.

New Glarus to Monticello (and back)
Ending the adventure on a shorter ride worked out well since time has been a concern and the weather will change before we know it. I enjoyed this ride mostly because it marked the end of what I sought out to do.

The trail goes from farmland to golf course to forest and provides a nice mix of those three things.

There is a long stretch of straight trail that offers a good overall panoramic type view of being down in the valley of the bluffs that make the area so unique. The ride back was filled with thoughts of what a great experience this challenge has been. That was until….

I had another stick come up into my fender that ended up going into my spokes that caused a bit of a ruckus early in the morning. Then, a brief cloud of silent profanity (in my head) and a final decision to undertake another 2-beer project once at home to remove the fenders from my bike so I can continue to ride the trail without incident.

Summary: What a great experience. When not day dreaming of the 4-foot tall karate trophy at the end of the Trail Explorer adventure, I often found myself thinking of the men who long ago forged these trails as railways. About the time I get lost in a day dream of the primitive tools used to build the trail, some form of wildlife scurries across the trail to bring me back to reality.

I have had a standoff with a goose family, an encounter with a fox, a near crash from a gopher bunker, and a pigeon chased me out of backside of the tunnel. The fuzzy caterpillars this time of year will keep you from going very far in a straight line, along with the walnut grenades that litter the trail right now.

All part of the adventure! Get out and do this if you haven’t.

Dennis Levy
July 2 – A beautiful summer day for biking. Drove to Monticello with my wife where I then started biking South on the Badger State Trail. After crossing the WI/IL State line and then riding the Jane Adams Trail to Orangeville, I could see people starting to gather for the farm tractor display. Then continued South to the Wes Block Trail Access on the Jane Adams Trail near Freeport, IL. That was the turn-around point. Had to stop again at Orangeville on the way back to look at the awesome display of old farm tractors. I felt good when getting back to Monticello so continued on to Belleville. That way I could go thru the Stewart Tunnel which is always fun no matter how many times I go thru it. Total for the day, 74 miles. My wife met me at Sugar River Pizza and we then drove home. Great pizza.
October 2 – Drove to Monticello where I then biked the Sugar River Trail to Albany and Brodhead. Then turned around and rode back to Monticello. Total of 33 miles. It’s fun to see and cross the various bridges and look at the river below and other scenery. The covered bridge near Brodhead is very special. A must see.
October 9 – A great fall day. Starting from home, went south on the Badger State Trail and then took the Sugar River Trail to New Glarus. When getting to New Glarus, it was a nice surprise to see they were having a car show. Taking the time to look at the cars took some time and delayed me in getting back home but it was definitely worth it. Total of 46 miles.

Rachel Stieve & Tim Vertein

We found out about the trail at the Bikorama event in the spring. We both enjoy the challenge of completing something and biking. The explorer award was right up our alley.
At Belleville!
Spoooooky Tunnel. Good thing we had one bike light between the two of us.
We saw a surprising amount of wildlife and other animals along the trail. On the ride from Belleville to Monticello we saw a large eastern foxsnake sunning itself on the bikepath. It wasn't phased when we rode by. We also saw many cats, some deer, turkeys, turtles, and lots of interesting farm animals. When we were riding the Sugar River Trail there was a stretch where tons of frogs on the trail. We engaged in careful maneuvering to avoid hitting any.
Fox Snake!
We biked the entire trail twice, since we parked then biked the length and back to the car. We broke the trail up into 7 day trips working our way up to our last day which was over 50 miles. For both of us that was the farthest we've ridden in a day before. We've been to most of the towns on the trail in Wisconsin, but only driving through. It was a great new way to explore around us. In many of the towns we passed through we stopped for lunch or to just ride through the downtown areas.
Leaving Wisconsin
The adventure was not without its mishaps. In New Glarus in a moment of indecision about whether to head into town or up to the brewery, Rachel got stuck in her bike clips and fell over. On another ill-advised trip on a 90 degree day, Rachel got heat sick and we walked the last mile taking many breaks. On our last bike ride of the season, Tim lost his wedding ring somewhere between Orangeville and Monroe. Even after going back the next day with a metal detector we were unable to find it. Still, we had a great time seeing southern Wisconsin and riding into Orangeville.
Hello Illinois

This was a great summer activity for us, and we had a lot of fun getting out on the weekends to do some exploring and get some exercise together.
Rachel is recovering from the heat
while laying on the bike path.

Bernie Roberston Another great year of cycling with my Grandson Jayden “in tow” on the Badger State and Sugar River trails! We did the usual trail maintenance, enjoyed the sights, sounds and treats along the way. We also had some great conversations about a multitude of things.

A recent bike ride to Orangeville was a reminder that we are truly blessed to be recreating on the trails. Just south of Monroe we encountered a rider who was resting under a bridge with his sleeping bag and clothing scattered about to dry. Not giving it a whole lot of thought, Jayden and I proceeded to Orangeville, did our usual “treat stop” at the gas station, ate and drank, and then headed back north to Monroe. We caught up with Gilbert, the gentleman who was resting under the bridge. He said he had been on the road for 5 days, as he was riding his Wal-Mart “fixie” from central Iowa to visit friends and seek employment in Madison. Gilbert said he got drenched in the rain the previous evening while sleeping on a park bench in Illinois. All of his belongings, which he was carrying in this backpack, also got drenched. In spite of the obstacles he had encountered, he was still in high spirits and excited to be getting close to his destination. He was also appreciative of the grade on the Badger Trail as riding to the trail on a “fixie” as he could pedal continuously, as he said road riding required many walks up hills. He did say that his inexperience riding on crushed limestone did result in a spill but no damage done other than a few scrapes. The only accessory on his bike was a cable lock; no helmet, no cycling attire, no water bottles, no seat pack, no extra tubes, no extra tires, no patch kit, no repair tools, no pump or air… He did have a flashlight, which I told him would be useful when he got to the Stewart Tunnel.

We rode together to Monroe as he wanted me to lead him to a fast food restaurant. I wished him well on his journey and to be safe as it was 6 PM and the sun was beginning its rapid descent. He was determined to make it to Madison that day. He would not accept any assistance, was very polite and his positive attitude can serve as a model as we all face difficulties in life

Janet Wood

I began hiking the trail in January this year, following a section of the Ice Age Trail, which extends from north of Stewart Tunnel to Monticello on the Badger Trail, then on to Albany on the Sugar River Trail—a total of fifteen miles. While I met few other trail users, tracks on the trail gave witness to who and what came before me—a few brave bicyclists, dog walkers and many critters that regularly use the trails, especially the section that passes through a state wildlife area north of Albany. I saw mouse, squirrel, rabbit and coon tracks as well as the remains of a rabbit that lost its struggle with a red tail hawk.
Self-portrait taken from Bridge #10, Sugar River Trail
Spring and summer brought warmer weather and the beginning of the 2016 “Fun Rides” sponsored by Friends of Badger Trail. I rode four of the five rides this year and led three of them. While June’s “Tunnel Ride” from Belleville to Monticello and back is always a good time, this year’s hit was certainly the new ”Halloween Party on Wheels” held the Sunday before Halloween.
June 25 Tunnel Riders
Leaving from Belleville, we scared the spooks from Stewart Tunnel, partied at the kiosk just south of the tunnel, then it was back to Belleville. Next year, we want more costumes!
2016 Halloween Party on Wheels
Once again I rode the Jane Addams Trail in the cooler temperatures of September. I was happy to see the many chipmunk holes that I swerved to avoid last year had been repaired, so it was smooth sailing. At the Wes Block trail head, I decided to check out Freeport and continued on the four-mile paved trail into downtown Freeport. I stopped for photos at Debate Square, which commemorates the 1858 Lincoln Douglas Debates held in Freeport. And then it was time for ice cream!
Debate Square in Freeport, IL

2015 Trail Explorers

Lynn Dunn
Sugar River Trail - August 4th, 2015

Majestic farm fields are visible along the trails between Monticello and New Glarus . . . several farmers were in their fields. Bread basket of America is evident.

Also between this stretch were yellow finches who seem to be racing me . . . they won, I lost!
At New Glarus I am at the trail head trying to figure out the Swiss road signs, when I heard glorious church bells at 2:00p.m.!!! This is the highlight of the adventure on this day. That is something you seldom hear anymore. LOVELY!

There were beautiful flower fields at trail marker 10
Tin Can road . . . I am curious what is the story behind this road between Monticello and Albany . . . right after that road is Conservation Road which I find ironic since I often find tin cans lying along country roads when I am out exploring.

Between Monticello and Albany there was not one soul, I encountered along the way . . . Just me, God and His Creation. Tthe Sugar River Bridges, overlooking the River, were very peaceful and full of wildlife. This part of the trail is serene and peaceful.
August 7th, 2015 Late afternoon bike ride; started in Brodhead . . . where an artist was selling his goods in the park by the old Depot, and a horse and buggy rode through the town. Impressive! It made me think of simpler times and a life without technology, which we need more of.

The trail between Brodhead and Albany is voted in my book as the best smelling part of the trail! The large pines by the old replica bridge built in 1984 should be bottled up to sell.

Could sit there all day and enjoy the aroma.

This is also a bit more challenging part of the trails . . . with several curves, potholes (thanks to those chipmunks) and sandy spots. But remains beautiful just the same.
Jane Addams Trail - August 10th

OK, I have to be honest, I am partial to this trail a tad bit. I live close to it and have explored it on numerous occasions. And Jane Addams is one of my all time super real life heroines of all times as I too am a Social Worker by trade. It takes a brave person to adventure into that kind of a role and I find solitude on the trails when I need a reprieve.
Even though I have explored the Jane Addams Trail and Badger Trail frequently I have decided today was the day where I would ride from the trail head in Freeport to Fitchburg. Spend the night and ride back the next day . . . a challenge so to speak.
Meanwhile I decided to answer your questions along the way.

The favorite parts of my day was being rained on in Monroe . . . which I needed because I was so hot

. . . and the Willow tree and bench in Fitchburg.

I needed that! My favorite all time tree is the Willow and I needed the bench because I was pooped.
The worst part of the day was the creepy tunnel. I am a bit claustrophobic and the pitch darkness did not help.

I waited fifteen to twenty minutes for another biker to come along so I didn’t I have to do it alone. I gave up and faced my fears . . . I said Psalms 23 as I went through and it worked like a charm.
Me and my bike “Raleigh” spent the night at Wyndham Gardens, where you get a complimentary drink. So I toasted “Raleigh” to a job well done.

I recovered the next day and rode her back down the 61 miles of trail. This time I didn’t take pictures, or answered questions . . . I just took it all in, and the by late afternoon it was delightful heading home on the Jane Addams. Just a perfect summer evening.

Hadar Ohana

Fitchburg to Belleville (2 rides): My dad and I biked from Fitchburg to the pavilion, halfway towards Belleville. It was a cool summer evening and the crickets were chirping their calming song.

We stopped in front of a corn field to admire the blazing orange sunset. The paved path was a treat, and I glided through the trail as if in a dream. We completed the second half of this stretch on a blazing hot day. We biked to Belleville, and spotted a local farm stand near the trail. Unable to resist, my father stocked up on tomatoes, corn, and zucchini. We tied heavy bags of produce to the handlebars and pushed tomatoes into the water holders. Biking back home was challenging, but the farm fresh dinner we had that night was worth it!
Belleville to Monticello: It was a relief to enter the cool and dark Stewart Tunnel on the way back from Monticello. Exhausted from the strenuous ride, I began to loose control of my bike, landing in the mud! It was pitch black, and bats were flapping around me! I pushed myself up and pushed the pedals extra hard, determined to get home and take a much needed shower.
Monticello to Monroe: My dad and I saved this ride as an end of summer treat. Several days before the start of school, we departed from the Monticello depot on our way to Monroe. The canopy of trees throughout the trail kept us cool. Chipmunks scurried through my wheels and butterflies fluttered around us. Arriving in downtown Monroe, we stopped for cheese and drinks on the square.
The bike back to Monticello was refreshing; it felt effortless on the down slope. The cool evening breeze reminded me that summer was coming to a rapid close.

Suzy Zweifel
April 18 (31.86 miles) I started my Trail Explorer Award quest with a ride from my home in Evansville to Albany, then to Brodhead and back on the Sugar River Trail. I was lucky enough to have a pick-up in Albany as there was a strong east wind. The trail was pretty rough with a tree across that had been there awhile. There was a worn path around it.
May 22 (31.95 miles) The second leg of my trail quest had me riding again from home to Albany, where I picked up the Sugar River Trail and rode Albany – Monticello – New Glarus. Dame’s Rocket, which is often mistaken for native Phlox, was in full bloom. Although it’s an invasive plant, it was very pretty. It’s sad to see the invasion of Garlic Mustard everywhere. The trail near Albany was full of hiking school kids, a field trip, maybe? The trail was in very good shape from Monticello to New Glarus.
June 3 (44.74 miles) Leg three started with a drive to Twining Park in Monroe where I took the Badger State Trail south to the state line. Across the state line, I rode the Jane Addams Trail as well. I did an about-face and rode back to Monroe, including a ride around the square. The smell of newly-cut hay was all around. I saw a large flock of adult turkeys, perhaps 8-10, as well as rabbits and chipmunks. The Jane Addams Trail is in much better shape than that section of the Badger State Trail. If the grass/weeds hadn’t been recently cut, I could have been riding in a pasture!
June 9 (23.38 miles) For this leg of my trail quest, I drove to Monticello to ride the Badger Trail from Monticello to Monroe and back. After waging war on the thistles in my beef pasture for 1-1/2 hours the day before, I preferred a shorter ride! The trail was in good shape and showed signs of recent trail maintenance. I rode to the square for a picture, as the last trip I had forgotten my camera! Monroe can be very proud of their new trailhead shelter, wow! If it weren’t for my trail explorer quest, I might not have ridden this trail section. I’m sure happy that I did!
June 13 (34.12 miles) For this leg of my trail quest, I again started from home and rode to the Badger Trail parking lot on Purcell Road. From there I rode north to Madison and on to the Military Ridge State Trail for a pick-up in Verona. We had intentions of attending the Dane County Dairy breakfast, but rain sent us to Paul Bunyan’s in the Dells. It had sprinkled for the last half hour of my ride, but then it became a down-pour. The extension of the Military Ridge State Trail to meet the Badger and Capital City trails is awesome, new underpass and a beautiful overpass.
June 19 (31.84 miles) My last leg of the Trail Explorer challenge. Hurray for me, I did it! I drove to Monticello and rode the Badger State Trail north to Purcell Road and back. Very nice ride, the trail was in very good condition. Walking the tunnel was…well, interesting. I had a good head lamp, much needed for this tunnel!
After my experiences riding these trails, I challenged myself to do more trail riding. Since then, I have ridden the White River State Trail, Elkhorn and Pine River trails, Richland Center. I had some great rides, thanks for the challenge. Bike on!

Joe Beggin
I quit smoking three years ago. As a "gift" to myself - I began riding from my hometown (Freeport, IL) to Madison, WI once a year. It's a long day, as my knee needs replacing, and I usually ride it during summer. Each year the ride gets a little longer. It was a quiet morning as I biked by this farm field between Cedarville, IL and Orangeville, IL.
I do enjoy riding the trail - no cars, nice stretches of shaded riding, beautiful scenery, plenty of animals: deer, turkey, sandhill cranes, turtles, chipmunks, birds, a few dairy cows, lots of birds, and the occasional stops for water might provide an opportunity to feed a couple dozen mosquitos. This year, I rode from my dad’s garage in Freeport to the Wisconsin State Capital building, including a tour of the Saturday Farmer's Market.
This was my first year riding the Sugar River Trail. Started in New Glarus, rode to Broadhead and checked out the Sugar River raceway (go karts); then, rode back to New Glarus for delicious dinner at Glarner Stubbe and a few local beers. A very nice day.

Get out and ride! Just watch out for the Walnuts falling on the trail. Peace!

Megan Cooper
After spending the past several months commuting to our workplaces by bike and taking an occasional “fun” bike trip, my husband and I decided to further explore the bike trails around Madison. We decided to take a long bike trip over a weekend from Madison, WI to Freeport, IL via the Badger State Trail in Wisconsin and the Jane Addams State Trail in Illinois.
We took our trip the first weekend of October. The day we left was cool (50-65 degrees Fahrenheit) but sunny. We biked 65 miles that day. Most of the miles biked were new bike trail territory for us. Previously, we had biked from Madison to New Glarus via the Badger State Trail and Sugar River State Trail. From the intersection of the Badger State Trail and Sugar River State Trail all the way to Freeport, IL was brand new to us. The trails provided beautiful scenery.
We stayed in Freeport for a day exploring the town and resting from our 65 mile bike trek. We looked to the answers to the Badger Explorer Award trivia questions the day biked back to Madison. On our way home we biked 75 miles. We took decided to bike part of the Sugar River State Trail to get to New Glarus and then biked through town to join back up with the Badger State Trail to finish our journey to Madison. This was the longest bike trip we’ve ever made and we were pretty exhausted during the last 20 miles.
Overall, we had a very fun time and we are proud to say we completed the bike trip! We are looking forward to continuing to explore Wisconsin’s bike trails in the time to come.

Brett Cooper
My experiences riding the Badger State Trail and Jane Addams state trail were more than I could have expected. On the outbound trip, I had the distinct pleasure of a beautiful day with my favorite person (my wife) enjoying early Fall sights and experiences. We counted wooly-bear caterpillars while “ooo-ing” and “ahh-ing” at flowers and foliage that caught our eye. We had waited until last minute to sign up for the Friends of Badger State Trail’s trivia list, so we weren’t yet looking for anything in particular. We made great time, and even had time to stop in Monroe, WI for a fun lunch in a small diner.
The trip home was a little more difficult for several reasons. Our bodies were still a little tired from the sixty-five plus miles to Freeport, and the sun was no longer out, so we had a much lower morale than we had ridden away from home with. Not to be discouraged, and because we had to get home anyway, we entertained ourselves looking for the answers to the trivia questions. We couldn’t find all the answers, and sometimes “North” and “South” became more of topic of contemplation than fact. Through it all the sound of our tires as we pedaled over crushed limestone supplied a sort of soundtrack. We must have looked as loony as we were starting to feel when we go to Sugar River Pizza Company in New Glarus. This planned detour was the highlight of the return trip without a doubt, as the “shortcut” we took to get back to Badger State Trail was the low point. We had to walk our bikes against the wind up some steep grades on the shoulder of a county highway. The lesson of the day was to stick to the trail.
In the end, we arrived home very sore but more confident in ourselves than when we left.

Dennis Levy
While I frequently bike south to Purcell Road or a little beyond and occasionally to New Glarus and Monticello (always enjoy going thru the Stewart Tunnel), I never really thought about biking to Monroe or to the WI/IL state line and beyond until I picked up the "Trail Explorer" brochure. I then told myself, "I'm gonna do that".
So on July 4th (the weather was great) I rode down the Badger State Trail to Monroe where my wife joined me and together we biked to the WI/IL State line and to Orangeville. My wife then headed back to Monroe while I continued south on the Jane Adams trail to the Wes Block Trail Access just south of Hwy 20 on the northwest side of Freeport. A 56 mile ride. From there, biked back to Monroe to meet up with my wife and then drive back home.
Anyone that bikes to the Stewart Tunnel should check out the display just past the tunnel on the south side. Its got some very interesting information about the area and the tunnel.
The scenery along these trails (Badger State, Sugar River and Jane Addams) is great. Forest and farm land. Seeing the crops change during the growing season is interesting. Seeing the fall color is awesome.
I always want to stop and look over the edge of each bridge that is crossed. Seeing the Covered Bridge near Brodhead is a real treat.
On the longer rides, you're never really that far from a town where food and drink is always available. I look forward to doing this again next year!

Bernie Robertson
Nothing in life tops the pleasure of doing things with one’s family, which includes bicycling! This was the year I slowed down on the trail and “smelled the roses” as my wife Barbara likes to say. The reason for the slowdown (besides age) was the pleasure of having my Grandson Jayden in tow for many adventures on the trail. Seeing the many sights along the trail from a 2-1/2 year olds perspective is interesting. We observed lots of critters along the trail and spoke about them at length. Jayden is in the “why” phase of speech (anyone with children knows this phase well)! We saw deer, a fox, a baby raccoon, snakes, turtles, frogs, chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, turkeys, pheasants, doves, cranes and lots of domesticated critters.
Another great benefit of cycling is the treats! There are lots of choices along the Badger, Sugar River and Jane Addams Trail. Ice cream and pizza are Jayden’s favorites so we seldom passed on the opportunity to replenish our calorie “deficit”. The bouncing in the trailer in tow also has a soothing effect on one’s ability to stay awake, so Jayden typically got a short nap in between sights.
I also try to do my part with trail maintenance by replacing sign posts, removing litter and tree branches, etc. When we recently came upon a fallen tree on the Badger Trail, we hurdled the tree, finished our ride to Orangeville and then returned home to secure the necessary tools to remove the tree. Jayden loves to cut wood so this was a perfect opportunity to help Papa (me). We got the tree cut up into firewood sized pieces and gave the small stack of wood to an adjacent landowner who said they would burn it in their outdoor fireplace!
As the days get shorter and the temperature drops, our days of adventure on the trail together will diminish this year, but next year will undoubtedly be even better (except I’ll be “seasoned” one more year and Jayden will probably add a few pounds)!

Janet Wood
Did you know the Ice Age Trail follows parts of the Badger and Sugar River Trails? Since I aspire to become a “thousand miler” someday by walking the entire distance of the Ice Age Trail, I signed up for National Trails Day on June 6 and completed a 14-mile hike, including five miles on the Badger Trail. At a hiker’s pace there’s a lot of time for contemplation and close examination of the trail, but choose your footwear carefully. By day’s end, I wanted to amputate both feet.

This year the Friends of the Badger Trail organized five group rides covering the length of the Badger Trail. I led the June 27 “Tunnel Ride” and participated in the “Blue Moon Ride” on July 31. Both rides had gorgeous weather and great attendance. I encourage everyone to try one of our rides next year. A full moon on the trail is not to be missed.
I completed the Sugar River Trail with my husband on a very chilly and windy day and we met quite a few people on the trail. Among them were a father and his son who were completing the 46-mile round trip from New Glarus to Brodhead that morning. His son was only ten years old!

Every year I discover something new along the trail and this year was no exception. When we arrived in Brodhead we found two attractive historic murals installed on downtown buildings.
I had planned to ride the “Haunted Mill Ride” on October 24, but was discouraged by rainy weather. Instead, I rode the following day, which was a perfectly sunny and mild fall day. I had never noticed the “Haunted Mill” in previous years, so I was determined to see what it was all about. It does indeed exist, but I could not determine whether it was, in fact, “haunted”. Maybe it isn’t during the day.
I always enjoy riding the Jane Addams Trail. It has great signage listing mileage, has plenty of benches and is usually in very good condition. However, this year chipmunks have invaded the trail and we had to dodge their holes everywhere.

2014 Trail Explorers

Thomas Hansen
The Badger State Trail is a wonderful trail, changing with the seasons and every mile. I have often biked from Madison to New Glarus but never enjoyed the trail down to Freeport or the Sugar River Trail. The 2014 scavenger hunt was the push I needed to complete the trail.

I biked the trail in three segments, centered around New Glarus. The first part was from Madison to New Glarus,

The second was the Sugar River Trail from New Glarus to Brodhead, and the third from New Glarus to Freeport. As you can tell, I like the village of New Glarus as it offers good food and, more importantly, good desserts. It also doesn’t hurt that it has a wonderful brewery.

I was surprised by the number of people on the trail, especially on the segment from Madison. Most riders were there to enjoy the day but others appeared to be training for some future race and were fast! The Sugar River Trail travels through many small villages that are very picturesque and I was glad the scavenger hunt took me to the village center of Albany. The downtown is wonderful and I saw that there is an inner tubing business set up - just float down the river and enjoy. I shall return. The trail to Freeport crosses into Illinois. They too are committed to bicycle trails and I marveled at the effort that have put forth to groom and preserve their trails.

The whole trail is well maintained and is relatively easy to ride. There are enough changes in scenery and environments to entertain, and enough stops along the way for rest and restoration such that even the most novice will enjoy the trail. The challenge is the distance involved, but riding smaller segments at a time and enjoying the outdoors more can address this challenge.

Janet Wood
I became a Trail Explorer in 2010 but haven’t been on the trails very much since, so I was surprised by the changes I found four years later. There is now a paved trail into Madison with historical signage near Fitchburg, new signage in Library Park in Belleview, completion of the kiosk just south of the Stewart Tunnel and a wonderful trail head shelter in Monroe. All of these improvements make for a more enjoyable time on the trail and can only increase trail use.

Since I was already a Trail Explorer, I wanted to have a different experience the second time around so I slowed down a bit and completed the mileage in four trips instead of just two. I wanted to see things I had missed and explore places I had passed by the first time. Four years ago I ate a bag lunch in Lake Montesian Park in Monticello; this time my friend and I ate at the M & M Café in town and discovered how good their homemade soups and pies are. Also, a scavenger hunt question forced me to get off the trail and take a closer look at downtown Albany. I love to ride in the fall with the cooler temps and brilliant colors and rode on one such day this time. But I also decided to get out and experience the trail on a less-than-perfect day. I rode the Sugar River Trail on a foggy overcast day and had the trail to myself. The colors were muted but still lovely and the day was quiet except for the crunch of leaves under my tires. Two cardinals played tag across the trail in front of me while migrating juncos flitted about in trailside bushes. A hawk soared overhead. I rode leisurely and stopped often to take pictures. In addition to taking pictures of the trail itself, I also wanted to capture the countryside I was passing through.

Another new experience was night time riding on the trail. On August 10 I led a moonlight ride from Monticello to Monroe and back. Grey clouds filled the sky and few riders showed up for the 21-mile ride. But soon after sunset, light could be seen behind the clouds and the moon finally made an appearance when they parted. I also rode the Halloween night ride from Monroe to Orangeville, Illinois. Costumes were optional so I showed up in full Halloween regalia including blinking headgear.

I think you could discover something new every time you ride these trails. Next year I plan to explore them during different seasons. Don’t be afraid to ride on a grey day; overcast skies make great photos and you won’t have to worry about crowded trails. And I recommend a night time ride; even a familiar trail looks completely different at night. The Friends of the Badger Trail organize several night rides during the year, so you can ride with a group. And if you join us next year on the Halloween Ride, costumes are welcome and fun!

Signage near Replica
Clarence Covered Bridge
West from Bridge #2 on the Sugar River Trail
Leaf strewn Sugar River Trail
Countryside east of the
Sugar River Trail

2011 Trail Explorers

Chad Koch and Tom Hawes
This year Tom and I (Chad) each became Trail Explorers in three trips, all starting from our hometown, Belleville.

     Berries south of Belleville
5/15/2011 - SUGAR RIVER TRAIL At 4pm we met at School Road and headed south on our seasoned bikes. Before reaching the tunnel, we took the road and headed toward New Glarus. We missed our turn and ended up biking up a big hill on County W. We eventually found the Sugar River trailhead and started our trek to Brodhead. We miscalcuated the mileage and pushed the stretch southeast of Monticello pretty hard. Once in Brodhead we realized we had a bit of extra time and explored a gravel road along the waterway: it was a bit rough for our bikes, but it would be a good place for a walk. We finished up by biking the roads to Monroe as my wife, Julie, finished up her workday. She was more than happy to give us a ride home.

Bridge across the
Pecatonica River
5/28/2011 - TO THE BREWERS GAME By 4am we were both up and at 4:30 we met at 5th Ave to head north. It was relatively dark and uneventful to Purcell Road as we were pacing ourselves for Tom’s first century ride. From Purcell we continued on the SW Trail, took a road connection to the Glacial Drumlin Trail, then on to the New Berlin Trail and the new paved section of the Hank Aaron Trail. We out-biked Tom’s watch battery which died at mile 80. At Miller Park we spent $10 on one-dollar hot dogs. We witnessed an in-the-park home run, an umpire substitution due to injury, and a 3-2 Brewer win over the Giants on a suicide squeeze.

     Disc golf at Twining Park
7/2/2011 - TO FREEPORT (CHAD) Tom had a graduation party to attend so the Belleville to Freeport segments were finished solo. At 9:30am I headed south and took a break in Twining Park to check out the new disc golf course. Further south in Monroe I explored the construction and helped a woman look for her cat. At the Orangeville trailhead I admired the unique design of the telescoping water fountain. In Freeport I had some addition construction exploration to do and I made the traditional trip south on the snowmobile trail to the Pecatonica River. I ended my afternoon with a trip to Krape Park for a round of disc golf with my friend Josh and his family. They even fed me dinner and gave me a ride back to Monticello, where I joined Julie for a hike to the island at Montesian Gardens.

     Bullfrog in Freeport
8/7/2011 - TO FREEPORT AND BACK (TOM) On this typical summer day, Tom was on a mission to wrap up his trail exploration. He had a a new bike, a headlamp, and some Gatorade. He slowed down at the tunnel but only stopped a few times for practical reasons: to apply sunscreen in Monticello, to read signs at the state boarder, etc. The construction had wrapped up in Freeport, so finding the gate at the end of the trail was a bit more straightforward. Then it was time to turn around and head back to Belleville non-stop. Tom says he was tired at the end.

Bernie Robertson
Woke up to a beautiful June morning; printed the Trail Explorer questions, donned my bicycling ensemble, took my mountain bike off the wall in my garage, aired up the tires to 60 lbs, put a couple of my favorite energy bars in m seat bag (along with a few bucks), light (for Stewart Tunnel), made sure I had CO2 and extra tube in case of flat, checked to make sure I had State Trail pass to avoid prosecution from the DNR, filled my water bottle, started pedaling from my home. Rode south to Freeport, turned around and rode north to Paoli.

After Paoli, I turned south to ride to Monticello, jumped on the Sugar River Trail to Brodhead (ice cream in Brodhead), ride back to New Glarus (lunch at Culvers), back to Monticello and then south to Monroe. A few refreshment breaks along the way…

I returned home late in the afternoon (some would say early evening) after “pounding” out the ride with all questions answered.

Cleaned my bike, I hung it back on the wall and it will stay there until fall mountain biking. Time to get in shape for the Triple Bypass, a Colorado ride of 120 miles with over 10,000 feet of elevation gain!!

2010 Trail Explorers

Janet Wood and Barb Charly
For several years I’ve been talking about becoming a Trail Explorer, but never took action until this year and then, not until October. Last week, my friend Barb Charly and I spent two glorious fall days riding the Jane Addams, Badger State and Sugar River trails, while enjoying the countryside and searching for answers to the Scavenger Hunt questions.

Day 1: Freeport to New Glarus

     Badger State Trail at the state line
Day 1: Freeport to New Glarus We started out on Monday, October 4 by dropping off my car at the Train Depot in New Glarus and then continued south in Barb’s car to the Jane Addams trailhead, just north of Freeport, Illinois. We unloaded the bikes and set off. It was a gorgeous day and we were happy to be out in the fresh air. We passed rural country scenes with barns, cows and fields of corn, much like that in Wisconsin. Soon we were in Red Oak, then Orangeville. We were ready for a break, so we checked out the cute park at the trailhead.
Back on our bikes, it wasn’t long before we had crossed the state line into Wisconsin and were on the Badger State Trail. We had an enjoyable time on the Jane Addams Trail –- we had the trail to ourselves, it’s in good shape, has good signage listing mileage, and it’s free.

     Janet and Barb enjoy lunch at Baumgartner’s in Monroe
Onward to Monroe and lunch. Monroe was the largest community we passed through and has an attractive historic downtown. A local suggested Baumgartner’s for lunch and we were not disappointed. I tried the “Swiss Apple” sandwich--Limburger cheese and red onion on rye. Baumgartner’s is also a cheese store so I bought a bag of very fresh and very squeaky curds on the way out.

Fueled by lunch, we picked up our pace as we headed for Monticello and the Sugar River Trail. Most of the morning, the trail had been flanked on both sides by trees and bushes, so afforded few long views of the countryside. Now it began to open up to the pastoral views of beautiful Green County.

Once on the Sugar River Trail, we reached New Glarus in no time, loaded the bikes, then headed for the New Glarus Bakery. The day was not over, however. We still had to drive back to Freeport to pick up Barb’s car!

Day 2: Purcell Road to Brodhead Tuesday, October 5 was another unseasonably warm day with abundant sunshine and little wind – perfect for cycling. This time we dropped off Barb’s car in Brodhead and backtracked to Purcell Road in my car, then rode our bikes south.

This section of the trail is very shady and cool, with high embankments on either side. Surprisingly, the trail does not go through Paoli, a favorite destination among cyclists. However, we noticed where people had created a small path off the trail, up to Sun Valley Parkway, which leads directly into Paoli.

Next stop was Belleville with its delightful John Frederick Park just off Main Street. We stopped and lingered to take pictures.

     Fountain in John Frederick Park, Belleville
Heading south from Belleville were more fields and wetlands. We saw geese but no cranes as we had hoped. Soon we came upon Stewart Tunnel—a real delight. It was dry and level with mourning doves perched along the sidewalls, cooing softly to us as we passed through.

We reached Monticello in short order and stopped for a lunch break at the lovely Lake Montesian and its surrounding park. Afterwards, we explored the park a bit and discovered a footbridge leading to an island in the lake. There were also ball diamonds, barbecue pits, picnic areas, a shelter and swimming pool. Quite impressive for such a small town.

From Monticello we continued toward Brodhead on the Sugar River Trail. As its name suggests, the Sugar River was often in view and there were numerous bridges to cross. A highlight was the covered bridge just north of Brodhead, a replica of the historic Clarence Covered Bridge. Just as we approached it, we heard a group of turkeys at the other end of the bridge squawking and scurrying to get away from us. Unfortunately, they were too fast for my camera.

Brodhead was just ahead and only one more answer to find. We came upon it easily and wrapped up our scavenger hunt. At the trailhead we loaded our bikes onto Barb’s car and called it a day.

I have a road bike and enjoy the swift ride on smooth pavement and the ups and downs of country roads. So, to spend two days riding rail trails was a new experience for me. And surprisingly, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. True, there were no exhilarating down hills, but it’s the kind of riding that invites one to slow down to take in the surroundings and to stop and explore. I loved the scenery and the small towns along these trails, and will certainly return to explore them some more.

The railroads once joined these towns, bringing people and prosperity to them. The railroads are long gone, but maybe these trails, in a similar way, can once again bring people to these towns and help them to prosper.

2009 Trail Explorers

Stephan Gliva
I drove from Chicago on Friday, August 7th, and I arrived in Freeport in the rain just before noon. I checked out the little Wrigley Field and the Freeport Art Museum while I waited for the rain to stop. By 3pm I decided to check into the West Motel on Galena and give up on a ride that day. I saw "Funny People" at the movie theatre in downtown Freeport and had dinner at Long John Silvers.

I was disappointed to hear thunder when I woke up Saturday morning around 7:30. It continued until after 11:00am, by which time I was itching to get on my bike. I started at the Wes Block Trail access and rode through Orangeville and Monroe. When I got to Monticello, I decided to take the Sugar River Trail to New Glarus instead of continuing north to Purcell Road. I had gotten such a late start, I figured I couldn't get all the way up there and back before dark. I took several pictures with both my digital camera and my film camera, but I had problems with both. They are very old. I'm keeping the digital camera together with packing tape, and the film camera eats batteries very quickly.

I saw several beautiful birds, including a goldfinch, and many, many rabbits and chipmunks. I saw the same white cat with black spots each time I passed through Monticello. Also, there is a sign near Monroe that says it is 6 miles to Orangeville. Either the sign is wrong or my bike computer is wrong, but I came up with 9 miles. Anyway, it was a nice ride and I looked forward to getting an earlier start the next day.

I woke up Sunday to bright skies and warmer temperatures. I drove to Monticello and started out towards Brodhead. I didn't see many riders, but I caught one with my camera as she rode through the covered bridge. To save time I ate trail mix for lunch on the way back to Monticello. Once there, I headed up the Badger towards Purcell Road. I was anxious to see the tunnel, and it didn't disappoint. I was amazed at how dark it was in there-pitch black. My little light on my handlebars was barely enough to see. And it was so cool inside and at the openings that fog formed. As I continued, I had an encounter with a curious and obviously unafraid raccoon. He sat right along the trail as I passed, and didn't flinch. All the other wildlife I had seen dashed into the brush as I approached. I made it to Purcell Road and turned around as the skies darkened. I got drenched on the way back to Monticello, but besides a sore butt, I was fine.

Jeremy Cummins and Kyle Schubert
The date: Wednesday August 12, 2009. The goal: achieving trail explorer status twice in one day. Overall the weather was picture perfect and ideal for the distance we had to travel. The high temperature was in the mid 80's in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. Fortunately, we had prepared weeks in advance for the trip including a 90 mile day two days before. The trip was divided into segments.

Freeport trail head after first 21 miles - only 120 to go.
Monroe to Freeport (6:00 A.M.-7:30 A.M.)
This segment was one of our fastest all day. Because we started so early the temperature was cooler and the sun was barely up. Our trip began, specifically, at the Blue Ox Restaurant in Monroe. We chose this location because we were so used to it from biking there before. Heading south the trail was gravel and began to turn to dirt especially at the state line at the beginning of the Jane Addams Trail. Storms hit earlier during the week so a few branches were down but the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in Wisconsin and Freeport Park District in Illinois did a superb job of cleaning up excessive debris. On the way we saw many different kinds of animals including chipmunks, coons, deer and even herons towards the end of the Jane Addams Trail. We were very familiar with the Jane Addams part of our trip and coasted through the towns of Orangeville, Buena Vista, Red Oak, Cedarville, Scioto Mills, and ultimately Freeport, at the Carol J (Janssen) Shaffer dedicated shelter, for our first break.

Kyle gazing across a field near Brodhead
Freeport to Monroe (7:40 A.M.-9:13 A.M.)
On the way back to Monroe the sun was staring to rise but the temperature wasn't affecting us yet. Again it was a quick ride and the trail was very smooth and flat. Heading back we saw the four fire truck bays at the Orangeville fire station. Before we knew it we were done with one of the three trails for the day and arrived back in Wisconsin and back to the Blue Ox where we started. We decided to eat breakfast at the Blue Ox. The service was quick and the food helped our energy levels moving on to our second longest segment of the day.

Tastee Cream - best treat along the trail.
Monroe to Brodhead (9:55 A.M.-12:14 P.M.)
Before leaving Monroe completely we made a quick stop at Twining Park, located right off of the trail, to take a quick look at the F-86 Sabre, Nathan Twining's favorite fighter jet. The pace after Monroe on the Badger State Trail was generally downhill and we saw more trees down from the weekend's storms. Finally, we reached our third trail of the day, the Sugar River Trail. It was definitely getting warmer but we were used to biking in the heat ever since an Orangeville to New Glarus trip in the upper 90's in June. We rode on the longest bridge on any of the trails all day near Albany. In Albany we took a water break near the Landmark Services Cooperative facility and counted three large round silver silos. One of our favorite rides all day came in between Albany and Brodhead, biking by many farms and shady areas which helped make the ride more enjoyable towards the end by the Clarence Covered Bridge. We ended up in Brodhead and took a look at the dog standing next to the Victorian woman on 808 W 2nd Ave. before heading to Tastees Ice Cream shop for some shakes. We prepared for our longest and toughest segment of the day.

Jeremy climbed to the top in just 15 seconds.
Brodhead to Purcell Road (12:42 P.M.-4:03 P.M.)
We headed back to Albany for another quick water and snack break, put on our headphones and biked all the way back to the Badger State Trail, Sugar River Trail intersection and kept heading north. It was tough from the intersection to the Stewart Tunnel because of the constant uphill slope. We took another short break at the south end of the tunnel. This was a good location to take it because of the cooler temperatures near and in the tunnel. It felt 10-20 degrees cooler which was refreshing because the sun was beating down on us the most during this time of day. Going through the tunnel was interesting because of it being pitch black due to a slight bend on the way. This is why we brought our lights as well as if we needed them at night. The town of Belleville was near and it was easy to get there because of a section of downhill pace. We stopped at John Fredrick (founder of Belleville) Memorial Park at the fountain donated in June of 1986 by the Julian Francois family. We bought some beverages nearby and headed north to Purcell Road. This part was the toughest area to bike all day. It was uphill, nearly endlessly, all the way to Purcell. We thought that the end was never going to be in sight! Finally we made it and took a break at the end and noticed the road next to Purcell (Sayles Trail) going parallel to the trail.

Kyle next to bikes in front of the Stewart Tunnel
Purcell Road to New Glarus (4:25 P.M. - 7:00 P.M.)
We were glad to be heading south knowing that all of the uphill biking coming the other way meant downhill all the way to Belleville. We saw a gas station right off the trail and stocked up on some more Nature Valley bars that we had been eating during our breaks for the day. It was uphill to the Stewart Tunnel and we headed through heading downhill all the way to the intersection of the two trails. It was time for the Sugar River Trail again but before we headed to New Glarus we stopped for a short break at the orange colored depot in Monticello which was restored 20 years ago including the two double hung windows. We were close to New Glarus and went on one of our longest straightways of the day with no shade and going into the sun. When we made it to New Glarus we headed to a gas station to share a pizza. We were relieved to only have one section left for the day. We then headed to the north end of town to the rail depot and looked at the sign describing the initial group of 108 settlers that came to the New Glarus region. It was time to go back to the trail. The final segment was ahead of us.

New Glarus Trail Head
New Glarus to Monroe (7:45 P.M.-9:30 P.M.)
It was a smooth and fast ride to the Monticello depot where we took our last water break. A short bike ride later we were done with the Sugar River Trail and headed south on the Badger Trail to Monroe. This was another tough stretch because it was nighttime and the ride was mostly uphill. We knew that as soon as we saw lights and a water tower on the left that we were close and the downhill section would begin all the way into town. However there was a downhill section that deceived us in the end because it turned uphill quickly for a few more miles. Finally we found the downhill area and crossed Highway 11. It wasn't much longer and we passed the Monroe Cheese Factory before crossing our final intersection and arriving back at the Blue Ox Restaurant in Monroe.

Jeremy next to great scenery from Purcell Road.
Overall the day went smooth and our bikes held up well. Our total mileage was 140.8 miles; total time was 15 hours and 30 minutes. Our average speed was 13.2 miles per hour while on our bikes and the top speed of the day ended up being 19.9 miles per hour. We reached this speed at the very end while we were in town, because we couldn't wait to get back. We have become trail explorers four other times, over several trips, creating other memories and enjoying many of the nearby towns (food, scenery, attractions). However, nothing was quite as memorable as doing it twice in one day. It was physically and mentally demanding but everything seemed to work out in the end.

Jimmy Starke & Alex Wolff, Randy & Carri Wolff (parents), and Brock Chalmers (Scout Master). Photo by Jeffrey Starke.
Jimmy Starke and Alex Wolff
We (Jimmy Starke and Alex Wolff) are both Boy Scout members of Troop 53 located in McFarland, WI. As a part of our Boy Scout Cycling Merit Badge, we rode over 70 miles of the required 150 miles on the beautiful trails found in Green County.

Our first ride was the full 50 mile requirement from New Glarus to Broahead and back on the Sugar River Trail. We had a picnic lunch in Broadhead and even got to view an estate auction - authentic auctioneer and all. As shown in the picture, we got to experience this trip with our parents (Randy and Carri Wolff and Jeff Starke - photographer) and our Scout Master (Mr. Brock Chalmers). We ended the journey with a well-earned ice cream break.

We both completed the Badger State Trail from Belleville to Monroe for one of our 25-mile requirements. We really enjoyed the old Stewart Tunnel and the "air condition" it offered us on a steamy Wisconsin day. We also appreciated the tables and benches in Monroe that were completed as a part of an Eagle Scout project - they were comfortable and well placed under a shade tree - great planning!

The Badger State and Sugar River Trails provided a great opportunity to complete our merit badge on some flat trails with lots of great things to see along the way. We both look forward to many visits in the future. We would like to ride the Jane Adams Trail on some family outings and get more Scouts to explore these trails with us in the spring.

Chad Koch
I work in Fitchburg, my wife works in Monroe, and we live in Belleville, so biking the Badger State Trail is only natural. Rarely does a workday pass that I don't at least consider biking (or occasionally running, cross country skiing, or off-road inline skating) the commute. When my wife works on the weekends, I try to find a buddy to bike with me to Monroe in the afternoon, and my wife gets company on her drive back home! Even more opportunities for adventure are free for the taking when I just consider biking instead of driving to our next social event.

Julie building a campfire at New Glarus Woods State Park
After less than five minutes on the early morning streets of Belleville, I'm already biking north on the BST toward Purcell Rd, and ultimately on the popular bike route Borchert/M/Fitchburg/Vroman/Seminole into Fitchburg. Along the way there is sometimes a groundhog that scurries across the trail near the farmer's stand on highway D. As I leave town I remember the branch I once had to walk my bike under and how the DNR cleaned it up by the time I came home in the evening, thanks! Frenchtown marks three miles for me, and if I'm feeling chipper I'll see if I can make the short mile to highway A in under three minutes (but I usually save the reverse route as a post-work workout). At Henry Rd I congratulate myself for making it "t'Basco," a play on words I'm sure the locals never get sick of. Under Sun Valley and I get ready for that farm dog to start barking at me. The horse doesn't seem to mind. Neither did that deer that crossed the trail just ahead. Depending on the weather, at Purcell I may stop for a swig from my water bottle and shed a layer as it warms up and I can see the sun again. The ride into town has some nice rolling hills and it isn't too busy except for M (which has a nice shoulder) and the stretch on Seminole south of Lacy (I'm especially looking forward to the trail being completed along that segment! Did I see the beginnings of a trailhead where the railroad grade crosses Marketplace?).

Phil lifting part of an old rail north of Monroe
Of my trips from Belleville to Monroe, my friend Phil's first trip with me was the most memorable. After we crossed Tunnel Rd (a "foreshadowing name" I like to tell my friends who haven't seen Stewart yet) and after we dismounted to take out our headlamp and flashlight, we heard singing from inside the tunnel! We alternated between slowly walking through the dark and standing silently as we listened to beautiful hymns. At the center of the tunnel, two local families introduced themselves and said they were trying to start a tradition. Then they asked us if we liked to sing! From then on, singing "Rock of Ages" calls to mind some fond memories. We continued walking through the tunnel with songs bidding us safe travel from behind.

Rebecca and the Eyeball Machine mailbox in Belleville
With my friend Andrew, south of the tunnel I took Exeter Crossing over to the Sugar River Trail and down to Monticello from there. I was excited to find running water and bathrooms at the SRT trailhead! They proved quite useful during my marathon training runs between Monroe and Belleville. Exeter Crossing is also a fine route from Belleville to New Glarus via the trails. It seems like there is always a festival going on in New Glarus in the summer, and Polka Fest did not disappoint when my wife Julie's parents came to visit (and go for a bike ride!). On a trip to New Glarus Woods for an overnight camping trip with Julie and her sister Rebecca, I confirmed that Tunnel Rd and Exeter Crossing aren't as flat as they seem, albeit quite scenic. Phil and I found the same to be true of roads around Monroe when we thought we'd be extra adventurous on our Belleville to Monroe trips.

It was after all these adventures (including a trip with Phil from Belleville to Monticello to Brodhead via the BST and SRT before heading out of town on 4th street toward Monroe) that I learned about the Trail Explorers Program. I only had the Monroe to Freeport segment to complete, but how was I going to answer all those quiz questions of places I had already been? Well, one more bike ride to work via Purcell, an inline skating outing in Belleville with Julie, a bike ride with our friend Willie through Monticello to Monroe, a bike ride to a fish fry date with Julie at the Glarner Stube in New Glarus, and a bike ride to a corn maze date with our friends Andy and Amber in Janesville (via Albany and Brodhead and out of town on Footville-Brodhead Rd) put all those fears to rest. Lots of adventures in those rides, but the one that sticks out the most was biking through the tunnel at 6:30 in the morning. With both ends of the tunnel dark before the sunrise and my eyes adjusted accordingly, my headlamp lit up that tunnel so much that I could see better than I could under the open sky! I've never been able to see the beautiful tunnel so well, and I wish that experience on everybody.

Chad skiing across Bridge 28 south of Belleville
So that leaves Monroe to Freeport. On a cold Sunday morning, the second day of frost, I hitched a ride with Julie to work. It was cool, but I was dressed accordingly. First stop was Twining Park, which I hadn't made to yet, and I did a quick loop on the walking trails. Before leaving Monroe I had to scout out the Cheese Country Trail. Looks like fun, but I'll invest in a mountain bike before tackling that one. I started getting excited near the state line: I'd never biked in Illinois before, and I wasn't disappointed. The canopy over the trail was gorgeous, and the beauty of the colored leaves made me forget the cold. At the Orangeville trailhead I relived a childhood memory by walking on a railroad rail and then jumping to the other rail to balance the length of that one too, just like my dad and I used to do on our walks to the park (thanks Ryan Callendar of Boy Scout Troop 8!). I checked out the Butterfly Farm south of town, and I got excited when I read that the trails are open to cross country skiing.

Several other mini-adventures happened along the way, but pictures tell better than words, and memories better still. After I reached the Freeport trailhead and recorded the last quiz answer, I couldn't help but bike the last three-quarters of a mile to the very end. Across the historic bridge, I gazed beyond the gate that signifies the end of the line as a doe walked onto the railroad bed. We stared at each other for five minutes before she jumped into the brush with a fawn on her heels.

I biked into Freeport in my usual hilly-but-not-too-busy-road style (Fairview/Henderson/Lancaster/Van Buren) where I discovered another historic bridge, which I learned will eventually become part of the Jane Addams Trail! In Freeport I was drawn to Krape Park which has a carousel, ballpark, playgrounds, walking trails, a river, geese, everything! I got a good tour of the Flagstaff Hill area while playing a quick round of disc golf. Stephenson/Van Brocklin/Stockyards/Harlem Center brought me back out of Freeport and onto the trail for the return trip to Monroe. At Cedarville Rd I stopped for a bite to eat and read a brochure about the historic significance of where I was at. Jane Addams' hometown and gravesite were just a mile away, so I knew that my day's adventures weren't quite over yet. I went into town and wondered about, and when I had given up on finding the cemetary I took Mill Rd out of town and there it was. I was standing only feet from where she was laid to rest. Now I can say that I've completed the Badger State Trail, Sugar River Trail, and the Jane Addams Trail. This year, anyway.

Bernie Robertson
After riding the trails late in the fall last year, I had planned on riding them this year in the summer - enjoying the warmth and longer days. Well, another extremely busy summer passed without riding on the trails. So, with shorter, wetter and colder days - I hit the trails later than planned.

There are benefits to riding in the rain, few bugs (if any), no dust and no crowds. Not to mention, my bike gets cleaned (after I get home).

I was fortunate to ride the Badger Trail south to the Jane Addams Trail on a beautiful day (cool but sunny). Wildlife was abundant and many riders were on the trail. What was especially nice was meeting a church youth group riding the trail. They were mostly in their early teens and were all enjoying the day of riding and the sag stops arranged by the parents. It was great to speak with many of them and it is always refreshing to see the younger generation enjoying the out-of-doors. Numerous turtles and snakes were on the trail today sunning themselves.

This weekend's ride is from Monroe to north of Belleville (cooler and wet). A few turkeys were along the trail near Monticello and other than a few people walking their dogs, not much activity along the trail. The leaves are beginning to turn color and the position of the sun is definitely a sign winter is just around the corner. I was prepared and did bring a flashlight along to go through the Stewart Tunnel (walking through the tunnel without light is always challenging)! It is amazing to consider what efforts were made to construct the tunnel with the tools of the trade in the late 1800's.

To finish out the Trail Explorer's questions, today's ride begins in Brodhead and ends in New Glarus (and then the return ride). It is "great" to be riding in a light rain today. There are a few hardy soles on the trail today. It is worth mentioning that having the proper gear makes riding so much more enjoyable. If I didn't have to wear glasses, rain would be more tolerable. Remember, the wooded bridges are slippery when wet (close, but I did stay upright). The leaves are still turning color and numerous geese are flying south for the winter.

I am on a mission today, get the answers and get back to Brodhead as soon as possible. The hot chocolate in New Glarus was great. The ice cream shop in Brodhead is closed for the winter so no stop there today.

I'm hopeful for an Indian summer yet and more opportunities to ride the trail before the snow flies!

Betsy Vogel

Emily Treder Nie
September 7, 2009 We went to explore the trails and see what they were like. Our starting point was in Freeport. It took some searching but we found the trailhead just off of 20. The map said it was further into Freeport. We walked until Scioto Mills and then turned around and walked back to the parking lot. It was about 3 miles total according to Ruth's pedometer. Then we drove around to find some of the other trailheads.

September 13, 2009. Ruth and I start planning for our trail rides. We had some problems to start with. First, she has not ridden a bike in many years and was afraid to ride. She said her balance wasn't what it used to be. When I asked her about her bike and family bikes she might ride, it sounded like the bikes were too big for her. She is only about five feet tall. It sounded like she had never been properly fitted for a bike. I learned three bikes ago, that fit is important. I encouraged her to go look at bikes and try them out to see if her fear was indeed her bike and not a figment of her imagination. Our goal to complete the trail explorer requirements for the orange patch was fueling her desire to bike again. When the appointed day came near, she still had not looked at her bike to check the tires and get on it to make sure she could ride and to get over her fear. I encouraged her to look at the bikes at the neighborhood store. She found that they were on sale so decided to look. She left me a phone message that she had purchased a bike that fit and had to try it out in the parking lot. She did not fall off!

ALBANY TO BRODHEAD Sunday, September, 13, 2009 So, the appointed hour had come. I found my car leaking oil right before I left to pick up Ruth and the new bike. We cancelled the plans to ride the trail. We were disappointed. I was to bike to her house and then we would ride around town. When I got to her house she had the car and the truck ready. We loaded the bikes in the truck and headed for the trailhead in Brodhead. We dropped off her car in Brodhead and took the truck and bikes to Albany. We paid the trail fee, even though I had a pass, I didn't bring it because I thought we were just riding around town. The weather was perfect, the shade was beautiful and the sun was not too hot. No mosquitoes bothered us and the trail was not crowded. She did not have a helmet. When we were discussing helmets, she fell off her bike and down into the brush at the side. Her new bike was not damaged but she had a few scrapes but got back on and shakily tried to ride. She thought her bike was not working so I tried it and it was fine. I think she had to see that it was fine before she trusted herself to ride it again. This fall convinced her she needed a helmet. The ride was pleasant and not too hard. My battery is dead in my bike computer so I couldn't tell how fast we were going, but I estimated it at about 6 miles per hour. It was a good first ride for her and it was easy going for me, and very relaxing. I could look around and listen to the sounds of the trail. Now Little Sis is all gung-ho for the next outing.

ALBANY TO NEW GLARUS September 17, 2009. Ruth took the afternoon off so we could do another leg of the trail, perhaps finish the Sugar River Trail. Again, we shuttled bikes, people and cars, which was a bit much. We dropped her car off in New Glarus then took my car and the bikes to Albany. Again it was easy going, the weather was real nice, not hot, and the shade on the trail was nice. We walked only a little bit. The bridges were really bumpy and the trail north of Monticello was quite bumpy and disintegrating. But, we finished the Sugar River Trail in two hours. We had to then leave the bikes, drive her car to Albany to get my car and then drive back to New Glarus to get the bikes. If she had a carrier, we could cut down on the car travel.

ORANGEVILLE TO FREEPORT September 27 2009. I met Ruth at the Freeport trailhead after the dog show in Freeport. Sporty was outfitted, in the car, with a wet cold-cloth and a bag of ice. It was not too hot for him to wait for us in the car, but I wanted to make sure. Ruth had a two-bike carrier and that cut down on the shuttling. The weather threatened to storm so we only did the 10-mile trek from Orangeville to Freeport. It did not rain. We stopped a few times to rest. The surface was pretty rough and slow; too many ruts and holes and lots of leaves. But, the scenery was beautiful and nice to ride through. The bridges were smoother than the last part. Scioto Mill was an interesting place, with its old rustic mill buildings. I would have liked to explore the mill and some other buildings on the side of the trail, but there were "no trespassing" signs installed.

ORANGEVILLE TO MONROE Saturday, October 3, 2009. We started at Orangeville and went to Monroe. The Haunted Mill looked like it was open for the season. Last year, on the night ride in October, the mill was our group's destination, but there were scary sounds coming from the mill, so I did not venture in. We dropped off my car in Monroe at Twining Park then took Ruth's car to Orangeville. Dark menacing clouds were in the sky but we encountered only a little bit of sprinkles on the trail. The trail was nice and smooth, and there were some places we were riding pretty high in the air. Staying upright on the trail was very important, so I hoped Ruth was doing better with her balance and did not fall off the bike and off the trail down the hill. I rode ahead most of the time and encountered a large tree that had fallen across the trail. I tried to move it but the top was entangled in the wild grape vines so I could not clear the trail. Further down there was another tree that had fallen, a smaller tree, and we were able to ride over that one. As we neared the end of our journey, I wondered why there wasn't a short cut to Culvers, we were hungry and tired. That leg seemed uphill most of the way.


Sunday, October 11, 2009. After a hard frost we started out from home this morning at 7:30 am in 21 degree cold. It truly was cold riding for a while, cycling made us warm. My fingers were a bit cold but they warmed up fast if I dawdled in the sun a few seconds. Frost was everywhere and the leaves were falling frantically. Our ride today began in Belleville towards Monticello. After shuttling the cars, Little Sister thought it was too cold but I convinced her it would be perfect once we got going. I like Belleville, with its square and the antique fountain, which was actually working! It was not working earlier in the summer. The fountain is the same make and model as one in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, except that one is painted green, with white swans and orange beaks. It works too. By now it is probably covered for winter. The tunnel between the two cities was fantastic. I have been through it before the trail was made, twice. The first time I didn't actually go in it, but the rails were still there and we took speeders from Monticello out to the tunnel on Green County Depot Days. I loved riding the speeders and I actually signed the petition to keep the rails from becoming a bike trail. That was many years ago. The second time we actually walked through it, after the rails were taken out but before it became a trail. That was during Depot Days too. There were pigeons roosting in the tunnel and they flew when we entered. At first I thought they were bats. There were broken eggs on the ground. Graffiti covered the signs and walls. There was a spray paint can in the debris. Out of the tunnel, down the way, we ran into the ranger, who checked our passes and told us all about the person responsible for the graffiti. The trail south of the tunnel seemed to all go downhill so I hardly pedaled for what seemed like miles. The ranger had told us we had five or so miles to go to Monticello but I knew that couldn't be right, and it wasn't. We were soon in Monticello. At that point Little Sister decided she could do the leg from Belleville to Paoli, so we took my car to Paoli, found the trailhead (east on PB to Purcell) and biked to Belleville. It was not a long leg and the weather was a tad warmer. We came across a new section of the Ice Age Trail. There weren't many on the bike trail today, perhaps it was too cold. Driving from Monticello to Paoli, we stopped in New Glarus for hot chocolate and donuts. In Belleville, we stopped at the quilt store, which is open on Sunday. It was a fine day.

MONROE TO MONTICELLO October 17, our last leg. We've earned the patch! We started in Monroe and rode towards Monticello. It was in the low 40s but I had on my new cold weather cycling gloves. We had candy bars at mile 13 for energy. Riding was uphill for a short ways and then it seemed like a lot of downhill and we were done. It seemed so fast. There was hardly a soul on the trail until we came to the intersection of the trails, then there were a lot of people.

This was a great experience. First, I got to ride and be with my little sister in a different way than we've ever been since growing up and going our own ways. Second, it got her out on her bike and perhaps on her way to making biking a greater part of her life. Third, it made me realize that there isn't much distance between cities, and it must have been fun when the trains ran between the cities. The two seasons we biked in are both beautiful in their own ways. Riding in the heat on the shady trails was not a problem and riding in the cold on the sunny parts of the trails was not a problem either. We are already making plans for next year!

I would encourage anyone who has not ridden in a long time to get back on a bike and ride the trails. There are no hills to go up, only gentle rises and you don't have to go fast-it should be slow and enjoyable. Doing both trails in several sections and through several seasons is the best way. Get a comfortable bike and ride!

Ruth Bishop
September 13, 2009 - Brodhead to Albany
Started to ride at 3:30pm. Easy ride. A few of the trees are losing their leaves, only a few people on the trail. Beautiful, funny and warm, upper 70's. Saw a chipmunk. It as been a long time since I have ridden a bicycle. Like the covered bridge on this part of the SRT.

September 17, 2009 - Albany to New Glarus
weather was warm and sunny. Trail needs fom work in spots, not as smooth as I thought. Lots of crunchy leaves today. So many bridges! Since it was Thursday only saw two people onj the trail. If we stopped and there was water on the side of the trail, we got attached by mosquitoes! Very nice day for a ride.

September 27, 2009 - Orangeville to Freeport
Mid after ride. Partly cloudy, thought maybe we would have some rain. We did have a couple of rainbrops but nothing to even complain about. Saw some wood ducks thru binoculars. The trail was very bumpy. A lot of leaves on the trail, it was cooler than when we rode the SRT. There were quite a number of people on the trail. We went thru a couple of residential areas.

October 3, 2009 - Orangeville to Monroe
Late morning to after noon. Cold (55 degrees). Very cloludy, it rained as we drove to the trail and rained as we went home, but we didn;t have rin as we rode the trail. Leaves were falling from almost every tree. There was a big tgree blocking our path in Wisconsin. A lot of twigs from the wind a coulple of days before. Nobody was on the trail today. The grade on eigher side of the BST was very steep. SR69 goes over the trail...that was different.

October 11, 2009 - Belleville to Monticello
Morning - Very cold frost. We started out at about 8:30am 29 degrees. Winter jacket, winter gloves! Warmed up as we rode. Green trees losing their leaves in piles. Came to the tunnel, put my head light on and carried a small flashlight. The tunnel is the highlight of this section. Again the grade was very steep in many areas of the BST. I loiked looking over the valleys and seeing all of the leaf color. Ranger stopped us for our trail passes, a very friendly guy.

Paoli to Belleville
Afternoon - Quite a bit warmer than when we started the day. I am not particularly fond of running over black walnuts...something you have to tlook out for on many portions of the trail. Several people on the trail. Beautiful afternoon.

October 17, 2009 - Montore to Monticello
Last leg of our journey. Cool and crisp, started out sunny, by the time we were done, the sky had turned cloudy. Still a very nice day. This was a big accomplishment for me, I am nearly fifty years old and out of shape. Each leg was a challenge, but very enjoyable. I enjoyed the beautiful Wisconsin Scenery as well as the portion in Illinois. Doing this in the fall makes it more magnificent. I will do it again next year!

Jeff Mueller

Jennifer Brady

Sharon Kaminecki
This year I did half my trail riding in conjunction with events with the Friends of the Badger Trail and the other half by myself. I shuttled my bike to Monticello and rode to the Badger Friends meeting in Belleville in May, joined the Blue Moon ride in June riding from Brodhead to Stewart Tunnel, and the Haunted Mill ride in October riding from Monroe to Orangeville. In the Spring I rode from Brodhead to New Glarus several times because I can bike right from my door. I finished the last three sections in the fall by shuttling my bike to Monticello and then biking to Monroe, to Orangeville and then biking to Freeport, and the last time to Belleville and then biking to Paoil. Although I do more biking on the back roads because the surface is smoother and it requires less peddaling, it is fun to mix it up with some trail riding which is very beautiful all year around.

2008 Trail Explorers

At the end of the Badger Trail
Bailey Family
Al, Sara, Kathleen, and Melanie Bailey (ages 8. 12, and 40+) were the first to achieve Trail Explorers status. They did it in one trip over 4 days in July, 2008 traveling on a tandem and two single bicycles, biking from town to town and staying at hotels in New Glarus, Monroe, and Freeport with assistance from Bike Green County. As a family they are involved in geocashing so the scavenger hunt on the trail was a fun family activity. They documented all 9 questions with photos.

Starting out in Brodhead; In Belleville; In Orangeville

On the Badger Trail; At the Tunnel; Back in Brodhead, victorious and tired

Clarence Bridge Birds
Jennifer and Bryce Riemer
On Tuesday June 17, we started the Trail Explorers journey. We had been getting our bikes upgraded for our transition from a two car family to a one vehicle/bike commuting family and we wanted to test out our new gear. What better way to do it than become Trail Explorers?

We biked about 7 miles from rural Brodhead to downtown Brodhead to get the answer to our first trivia question. Then we rode to Albany and back to the farm again. This is a stretch of the trail we knew well, but each trip is a bit different. This trip included a stop on Clarence bridge for a photo shoot and attempting to avoid two snakes on the that were crossing the trail. It also included the biggest hill climb on a bike we can remember on County Hwy F between the Sugar River trail and our farm. As a runner, Jen wanted to dismount the bike and run it up the hill, but pride would not allow this. All in all, it was a successful 20 mile ride.

Jen at the New Glarus Depot
On Sunday June 22, we were dropped off at the trail head in Albany, to bike the rest of the Sugar River Trail. This trip included a quick ride to Monticello for lunch and a visit to New Glarus with a stop into the depot, Whistle Stop ice cream shop and a tour of downtown. Jen had never explored New Glarus before and we both truly enjoyed the Swiss town. On the trip home, the wildlife was the highlight. We came across a turtle and twin fawn's on the trail just south of New Glarus. Upon arriving in Albany we visited a friend's house just off the trail, then the storm rolled in. In true summer 2008 fashion, we had a torrential downpour, but we were fortunate to have made it to our friend's for shelter. When the storm let up a little we hitched a ride in our friends pickup back to the farm. This was the longest bike trip to date for a total of about 33 miles.

At the Pseudo Trail head of the Badger
On Wednesday July 9th we were very ambitious and took on the entire Badger/Jane Addams trail. We had a very difficult time finding access at the north end of the trail, but eventually started at a questionable spot. We biked about 1.5 miles north to Purcell Rd which is the current north end. We then started heading south counting trestle bridges and missing Bosco (I think).

Approaching the tunnel
The tunnel was the highlight of the trip. We could not believe the temperature drop as we approached the tunnel! With headlights in place we slowly made it through and snapped several pictures on both ends. We stopped in Belleville at the John Frederick Park for lunch and then headed off on the long slow lonely stretch of trail from Bellville to Monroe. With only a short stop on a trestle bridge south of Monticello, this was by far the most difficult part of the trail for us. We were happy to find a farmers market on the square in Monroe. We rested, we ate raspberries and local homemade goodies, and enjoyed the action on the town square from the shady lawn of the courthouse.

Fun with a turtle on the Sugar
The escape from "real life" to the trail is a time of rest and joy, even while working hard to propel our bikes forward. We encountered nature several times from the snake to the scared doe that ran ahead of us for 400 meters or more before leaping over a fence much taller than I would have imagined it could ever clear.

With renewed energy, we traveled from Monroe to Orangeville where we coordinated via cell phone (you gotta love technology at times like this) with our shag wagon who was driving down to Freeport.

Bryce at the State line
We hopped on our bikes knowing we were at least 45 minutes away from Freeport and turned on the home-stretch kick. We found our two girls with their grandparents waiting for us at the finish line. We strapped our bikes to the rack and made it to our 4-year-old niece's soccer game just in time! We biked exactly 47 miles in 4 hours which, for us, was a great accomplishment and something that even we doubted possible at times.

Now we are planning trips to other trails and looking forward to much more biking for commuting to work or just for fun! We are glad to be Trail Explorer's, but why stop there?

Badger Trail in Monroe
Earl Schoonhoven
May 12, 2008: Freeport to Orangeville - Good ride, good weather.

May 30, 2008: Orangeville to Monroe - Hard ride, very windy (20 mph). Found duck egg on trail.

Trail Head in Monticello
July 13, 2008: Monroe to Monticello - Another windy ride. Got checked by C.P.O. for Trail Pass. First time ever checked.

July 22, 2008: Monticello to New Glarus - Weather is very good but deer flys very bad.

July 24, 2008: Belleville to Paoli - 6:30am, got early start, 48 miles to Belleville. Weather is very good for bike ride. Got to Purcell road and the trail ends, but no Paoli! Acording to "Trail Explorers" the trail ends in Paoli.

At the State line
Aug 3,2008: Great day for a bike ride, 80 degrees, 18 miles on the Jane Addams.

Aug. 14, 2008: Great day for a bike ride, 77 degrees, no wind. Started at Albany to Monticello. Saw Dam in Albany.

Badger Trail in Belleville
Aug. 18: I'm on a mission today. Drove up to Belleville again. This time I'm looking for Sun Valley Parkway. Rode to Purcell Rd. and no Sun Valley Parkway, but I did find Bosco. The main thing is that I had a good ride.
Note: It was in May I rode from Brodhead to Albany. The Sugar River Trail is old, but still a great trail to ride.
I soon will be 74 years old and am thankful to my Lord and Savior for my health.

Rose Meier and Earl Schoonhoven with bikes
Rose Meier
I started riding about 6 years ago with my Dad, Earl Schoonhoven who rode the the Jane Adams Trail when it opened. My dad and I used to ride to the state line and look ahead at the unfinished Badger State Trail. And we would say " pretty soon they'll have it done. I sure can't wait." It did open and we do enjoy it!

Covered bridge on the Sugar River Trail
We also would ride the Sugar River Trail and we would look at the intersection where the badger state trail would be going. Now when we ride it it's fun to look back at those days when we were hoping it would get finished.

One of the many stone bluffs on the Badger Trail
When I saw the Trail Explorer Scavenger Hunt this spring, I thought it would be fun to try. It took me about 5 different trips to finish this. It was alot of fun and look forward to next year. These are some of the pictures I took along the way.

Starting with four riders one cold, chilly Oct. day.
Jeff Mueller, Dave Brethaur, Mike Brady
We knew we were interested in doing the Trail Explorers Program.

We knew we would have fun in the process.

Then the question came up; "what would be the best way to approach it?" A weekend trip...a multi-day adventure...? What about the logistics, the car shuttles, the back and forth? Work schedules, soccer practice? Getting the kids to the vet. Take the dog to the hypnotist. When would we be able to fit it all in? Then some IDIOT said "let's just do it in one day." All at once, everyone in the bunch (we happened to be out for a road bike ride at the time) said "sure, why not". A couple e-mails (and no arm twisting) later, it was a go.

We were supposed to start with five, then it dwindled to four (one being Kerry, who did not intend to ride the whole distance). So the four of us (Kerry, Dave, Mike, and Jeff) started out from the south end of the Jane Addams Trail, just outside of Freeport, IL, around 8:00 a.m. in chilly and foggy conditions October 18, 2008.

At the State line
The temperature kept us moving, as we were all trying to warm up just a bit. We passed through Orangeville, IL then Clarno, WI then Monroe in short order. At the point that we crossed the state line we also began our journey on the Badger Trail. All along the way seeing lots of fall color that would drift towards our eyes through a damp mist that lingered well into the morning. The option of stopping for something to eat in Monroe was discussed. We all agreed that we were finally warm and we should just continue on. This is when those Power Bars and Jelly Belly Power Beans are a smart choice. We did stop for a bit, to shed a few layers and get some time off the saddle. Then onward to Monticello.

If there are red cows, it must be New Glarus
In Monticello, Kerry had had enough of our shenanigans and arranged for a pick-up. The rest of us kept on riding, taking in more fall color and as the day was older now, we saw many more bikers and pedestrians along the way. We made our way to, and through, the Stewart Tunnel which is a neat experience any time of the year and any time of the day. We took a few moments to stop and listen to all the pigeons cooing in the dark tunnel that lay ahead. Then on to Belleville, WI and over the steel trestle bridge and on to Purcell Road where we had arranged for our first (and only) car shuttle of the day. This being at about the 50 mile mark. As luck would have it, we got to the pick up spot a while before our drivers did and we sat in the sun and gawked (and waved) at all the road cyclists that were out in force on Purcell Road. The day was most certainly well on its way to being perfect.

We got our car shuttle to New Glarus, WI, ate some lunch, then got started on our last leg of the journey,. By this time the day was warm, sunlight plentiful, and bikers and walkers were out in force. All ages, all abilities, but the one thing they had in common was that they were all having a good time. Now on the Sugar River Trail, we made it to Monticello in short order, onto Albany. then the last leg, the home stretch, to our final destination Brodhead!

Seventy miles, and I have no idea how many hours later, we had arrived at our final destination! On the last leg from Albany to Brodhead the suggestion came up "we should make this an annual event." I, for one, think that sounds like a great idea!

Stewart tunnel, trail end, fall color, stopping for a photo

Hopping on the Sugar River Trail, at the covered bridge

Gene and Carol and their bikes
Gene and Carol Prudhon
We had a great time on the trails, riding the two trails in five segments. We rode two of them by dropping off a vehicle so only had to ride one way. The others were out and backs. The most picturesque ride for us was from Belleville north in late October. We were in a darkened area in a canyon like setting with towering trees adding extra shade. The sun was behind us and the wind was driving some ash leaves through the brightly lit sky we could see ahead of us at the end of our darkened "tunnel". It was picture perfect fall in Wisconsin. My camera was forgotten at home. In recent past summers we found it too easy to procrastinate riding the trails. We appreciate the efforts put into creating the Trail Explorer program since it gave us a goal and got us out on our bikes. We hope to do this again next year.

A Trail Scene
Bernie Robertson
I completed the ride on 3 different dates (next year's goal is to complete it in 1 summer day when the days are longer--and warmer).

The things I always find interesting on the trail are the fauna, wildlife and other riders.

Needless to say, the changing color of the leaves is always spectacular, and this fall was no exception along the trail. The cold weather also helps diminish the presence of insects, except the soybean field I was riding adjacent to and they were harvesting (put your head down, keep your mouth closed and accelerate)!

Another benefit of riding in the fall is that wildlife is easier to view with fewer leaves. I had the opportunity to view the most wildlife along the Jane Addams Trail from Cedarville to Freeport. I saw many deer cross the trail, lots of snakes on the trail sunning themselves and numerous squirrels gathering nuts for the short warm winter we are going to experience this year (sounds like someone ready for spring)!

Few riders were encountered on the trail but I did have a couple of interesting experiences while riding the Once in a Blue Moon on the Trail event the evening of October 18th. After visiting the Haunted Mill in Orangeville, I had Beetle Juice attempt to catch me while I was riding my bicycle. He gave it a valiant effort but these old legs can still spin when necessary. The second interesting experience also involved "spinning", spinning of car tires as I came upon a couple who had decided to "park" on the badger Trail south of Clarno Road (sorry, no pictures)!

Here's to a short winter with little snow!

Spring on the Badger Trail
Sharon Kaminecki
I planned on riding the entire trail in the spring but the demands of work and rain on many of my days off prevented me from finishing it until the fall. It took 5 trips, riding the Jane Addams trail for the first time this year on the night of the Blue Moon ride to Orangeville in mid-October and then the last segment from Orangeville to Wes Block Access a week later.

Summer on the Sugar River Trail
Riding over three seasons has it benefits. You experience the fresh new growth in the spring, lush foilage (and bugs!) in the summer, and color and crunch of leaves and that wonderful woodsy smell in the fall.

Fall on the Jane Addams Trail
My favorite parts of the trail system in Southern Wisconsin are the areas south of the Stewart Tunnel (you are up so high and the view is fabulous) and the sense of time standing still, pastoral settings, and the canopy of trees in Illinois. Most days I commute on my bike on the southern section of the Sugar River trail, so many of the trees and bushes on that part have become as familiar as old friends.

Nash Von Kaenel, Auburn Von Kaenel, Heidi Rufenacht-Von Kaenel
We had read an article in the paper about becoming a Trail Explorer and thought that would be a fun activity to do with the kids (Nash age 10, Auburn age 6) over the summer. We tried to bike every Wed. when I didn't have to work but at times we had to alter our plans so we did not finish during the summer.

Day 1 - We started in Brodhead on July 4. we thought that would be a good place to start since we live by Juda. We were dropped off and picked back up in Albany. We rode our bikes to the sculpture and watched the river.

Day 2 - We started in Monroe and we only reached Clarno since it was very hot and we needed to ride back. It was windy and since we had the Burly it was harder to pull against the wind. Nash did very well and was bard to keep up to.

Day 3 - Clarno to Red Oak and back. On the days we had to ride back to our truck we did not get as far as we liked. The days were hot and we had limited places to put our water bottles.

day 4 - Albany to Monticello. This was probably our easiest and most scenic ride. I brought along my backpack with a thermos of water. We also put Auburn on the back of the tandem. She could not reach the pedals but put her feet on the bar and held on. I had forgotten the camera that day so we didn't get any pictures.

Day 5 - Monroe to New Glarus. We were picked up in New Glarus so we planned a longer ride. We had gotten Auburn a trail bike to ride. I think I like the tandem better. I had also gotten a basket for my bike but we had to put it on Nash's since it would not fit on mine. It was a very pretty route but it was not and there were a lot of mosquitoes.

Day 6 - Red Oak to Freeport. This was out last ride of the summer before school started.

Day 7 - Paoli to Monticello. We got a ride to our starting point and rode to Monticello. It was at the end of Oct. Most of the leaves were off the trees and it was very windy. We all enjoyed the Tunnel and wished my husband Jer could have come along.