As we cycled across Asia last year we often day-dreamed of traffic free routes and cycling alongside each other, chatting or enjoying music along with the scenery. Well it is safe to say that our dreams are coming true.
But first; a few nice shots from this stage of the journey:
We have covered just over 1400 kilometers in the USA this month, from the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois north through Wisconsin, then Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and then west through Minnesota to the Canadian border. We have planned our route to hit trail systems when possible and we are pleased with our choices for the most part. Here's a rated and chronological list of the trails we have cycled. Many of which were once railroads. Some of them we covered in their entirety, others we just touched upon. Roughly half of our distance has been covered on these trails.
(Scores are out of 10. The higher the better. Criterion- Surface. Ease of riding. Facilities. Ease of navigation. Hyperlinks to web pages with map downloads.)
1.) Illinois Prairie Path - Elmhurst to Elgin - full day - fine crushed limestone. 7, 8, 8, 5
2.) Fox river trail - Elgin to Algonquin - half morning - asphalt (Black top/tarmac), some shale. 8, 7, 7, 7
3.) McHenry County Prairie Trail - Algonquin much of the way to Lake Geneva - most of the afternoon - Asphalt, cement , some loose gravel. 5, 5, 5.
4.) Wild Goose State trail - around Juneau- to Fond Du Lac. A fill day. Fine shale. Shaded. 7, 5, 8
5.) Nicolet Trail - Gillett - two or three days of riding possible with light or no load- Deep gravel. Shared trail with ATV'S. Hard work. 2, 3, 5, 8
6.) Three Eagles Trail - Three lakes - an hour or two. We wished it was longer- winery in at southern trail head. Fine shale, asphalt and wooden boardwalks. 9, 8, 7, 8
7.) Heart of Vilas Trail System - Saint Germain to Manitowash Waters. All day. Asphalt a few wooden bridges. Ups and downs all the way. 7, 6, 8, 8
8.) Iron Belle Trail - Bessemer to Ironwood- an hour or two. This trail is to be extended to many 100's of kms. Asphalt and bridges. 8, 6, 8, 6
9.) Tri County Corridor- From Ashland to Superior- Tough trail. Gravel and Sand, made more for ATV's than cyclists. But it is possible and scenic. 2, 4, 6, 8
9.) Osaugie Trail- Superior area. Not the best cycling facility. Part paved, part gravel. 5, 6, 5, 6
10.) Willard Munger Trail- Duluth to Carlton- Half day. New smooth Asphalt. Steady gradient climbing out of Duluth. Wild camping spots. 9, 7, 8, 8
11.) Paul Bunyan Trail - Pine River to Bemidji. Full day or more. Varying quality of surface. Mainly asphalt but with many bumpy seams and cracks. Improves between Walker and Bemidji. Wild camping spots. 6, 8, 8, 8