Bikepacking The Wisconsin Waterfalls Loop (Video)
Highly underrated as an adventure destination, the Northwoods region is home to miles upon miles of dirt roads and tracks that knit together lakes, rivers, thick forests, and small towns. It holds a special place in Neil’s heart, and last month, Neil and two friends set off to ride the Wisconsin Waterfalls Loop, a 380-mile route in the northern part of the state. In our latest video, Neil shares trip highlights and a day-by-day itinerary of their ride…
You know how a place reminds you about part of your life? Whenever I go up to the Northwoods of Wisconsin, it brings me back to my childhood and early teens. The time I spent up there at summer camp running through the humidity with mosquitoes and ticks. Taking cover from a huge thunderstorm, and enjoying the cool nights, fresh breeze, and smell of pine in the air. Based on my past experiences there, when Dave Schlabowske posted the Wisconsin Waterfalls Loop last year, I knew a trip to the Northwoods was in order. Last month, two friends I met while living in Minneapolis (Eric Dabbert aboard his Moots Baxter and Jesse Ramisy on his Ti Fargo) and I set off on the route. Watch the video we made along the way below, then scroll down for photos and more about the route.
“Once you have the Northwoods in your blood, it has a certain draw that keeps you coming back for more.”
10 Tips for Bikepacking the Wisconsin Waterfalls Loop
Interested in checking out the Wisconsin Waterfalls Loop? We put together a few tips based on our recent experience below. And if you’ve ridden the route and have a tip to share, we invite you to leave it in the conversation section at the bottom of the post.
1. Take More Time
Take the time to stop, look around, and go off route to experience the beauty up close. We certainly tried to bite off more than we could chew, so I would highly suggest six days as a minimum, even for the strongest riders.
2. Fall Might Be Best
May is nice and all, but we endured some pretty cold and nasty weather. If I were to do this route again, it would for sure be in the fall, with the changing colors (and death of the bugs).
3. Don’t Miss Stormy Kromer
Stormy Kromer is awesome, and I love their hats. You could easly save a few miles by not going, but I highly suggest the visit and a hat purchase.
4. Pack Less
You will likely hit a town or resupply location each day, which makes this route easy in terms of logistics. As for water, there’s no reason to carry too much at a time. Save the weight and pack less.
5. Start Anywhere
Frequent towns also mean you can start anywhere on the route, making it really easy with logistics. The route creator, Dave Schlabowske, mentioned that Ironwood or Watersmeet might make good alternatives.
6. Plan a Night by the Big Lake
Plan one of your nights close to the big lake (Lake Superior). It’s a majestic body of water that is a sight to behold but prepare for a cold night; it’s typically always colder by the lake.
7. Don’t Miss Delta Diner
Delta Diner is a must-stop. Plan your day or trip around it, because after days of riding, getting there was one of the most rewarding and delicious dining experiences I’ve ever had on a bikepacking trip.
8. Challenging, Not Challenging
Riding challenges are subjective, but I would say the riding is generally not that challenging. While the hills do add up and there are some rough stretches, they are worth the rewards. When you find yourself in a tough bit of riding, know it won’t last too long.
9. Be Prepared
That said, don’t underestimate the Midwest’s weather, rolling hills, and bugs. They can frustrate you. Be prepared for the challenges.
10. Bring Your Friends
This route is perfect for doing with friends. Go have fun, jump in a lake or river, drink some beers, and enjoy the company with friends. This route was perfectly designed for it.
Long in the works, the Wisconsin Waterfalls Loop takes in 28 waterfalls, several off-the-beaten-path eateries and taverns, and Wisconsin’s beautiful Northwoods by way of gravel tracks, dirt roads, mountain bike trails, and a little bit of pavement to stitch it all together. Find the full route guide here.
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