If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know we like to get the kids out on a bike trail when we’re exploring the area but are pretty amateur bikers at best. We don’t have fancy bikes or flashy spandex outfits and there are usually some wipeouts from a kid not looking where they’re going 🙂
We have explored a few family-friendly trails and love these all for different reasons, as we’ll share below. We look forward to our kids getting older and able to take on some longer distances, but the majority of these we’ve kept to under 5 miles. The trails are great for kids, with wide paths and we appreciate the safety they offer away from busy roads.
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links which means we may earn a small commission off purchases made through the links at no cost to you. We only share products we use and love ourselves and the opinions remain our own.
1. The Great Sauk Trail | Sauk City, WI
This trail might be our favorite in the Madison area. When we can’t decide on what to do on a nice day, this is our default option. We have an entire blog post on this trail here. This bike trail has beautiful views along the Wisconsin River. There are even a couple parks and playgrounds along the trail that make for a fun stop if you’re out with your kids. End the trail by stopping at Vintage Brewing for some yummy food!
2. The Heart of Vilas County Paved Bike Trails
If you’re in Vilas County in northern Wisconsin, you need to spend some time exploring their paved trail system! This trail spreads from St Germain to Manitowish Waters. It is so well maintained with what seems like endless options of routes to take. You can make this into a short 30 min ride or spend the whole day exploring the Heart of Vilas County Paved Trail. We have biked this trail several times on our trips up here. Each town along the trail has some good restaurant options to grab a bite and drink, which is really why we like bike rides anyways! (Read our Boulder Junction, Northwoods, and camping blog posts for more information!)
3. Elroy-Sparta Bike Trail
We have only done this bike trail once and only explored a small segment of it but we will definitely be back sometime. We did this trail in the fall, which was so pretty because the trail is lined by trees covered in the fall foliage. A fun part of the trail are the 3 rock tunnels throughout the trail. It is 32.4 miles long from Elroy – Sparta. You can read more about our bike ride and weekend in Sparta here.
You have to get off and walk your bike through the tunnels so be sure to pack your headlamps!
4. Military Ridge Trail
This bike trail is a 40-mile long trail that connects Dodgeville to Madison. A couple fun state parks are also located along this trail, Governor Dodge State Park (Dodgeville) and Blue Mounds State Park (Blue Mounds). We haven’t gone far on this trail but have plans to explore more of it in the future.
We parked at Military Ridge State Trail Parking Lot on Highway J, just outside of Verona in the town of Riley. From here, we rode a few miles west and then turned back to the parking lot. This was a flat trail with no elevation, but still pretty. The kids loved the Riley Wishing Tree, located about 1.5 miles west of the trail parking lot, where you can write a wish and hang on the tree.
After our bike ride, our final destination was a cold beer and good food on the yard outside Riley Tavern. They serve a delicious lunch & dinner with local meats and foods, along with a mean Sunday pancake breakfast and Pizza Night on Tuesdays. This is a fun bike ride with a great food stop before or after – highly recommend for families!
If you aren’t really here for the biking but DO love a good patio and/or brewery, you may like this post on our favorite Family-Friendly Breweries with Outdoor Patios.
Looking for an affordable bike rack for your vehicle? We got an one last year and have been really happy with it. Even better, we installed our own trailer hitch using this kit and saved hundreds of dollars. Full blog post here: