This route is from the Bear 100 gravel race that is held twice a year in Wisconsin- early Spring and again in the Fall.
The route is brought to you by our guest contributor, Lisa Emery, who did the "Honey Bear"/ 31 mile route in May of 2021.
Check out The Bear 100 event and register if you want to experience this route with the camaraderie of the Wisconsin gravel community.
Photo Credits: Lisa Emery
This route showcases quiet roads through the scenic Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and features many short steep climbs and fast descents.
The ride begins and ends on a lovely trail, the Nicolet Sate Trail, which follows the same corridor built by railroad companies in the late 19th century to open up Wisconsin's pine and hardwood forests for the timber industry.
This area is know for it abundant wild life, so you are quite likely to see bears, deer, wolves, coyotes, foxes, rabbits, squirrels, grouse, turkeys, and other critters.
You get to ride through Wisconsin's wetlands and along the Peshtigo River and Rat River where you will see lots canary grass and cattails.
ATVs do frequent these roads, and it is never fun to have have them zip by and create clouds of dirt.
Once you leave the town of Laona, the only bathroom and water along the route is at the Bear Lake Campground (at approximately mile 20), so plan accordingly.
Do this ride if you want a beginner/intermediate gravel riding adventure in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest that features many short steep climbs, fast descents and animal sightings.
The route started from Jar's Bar and Grill. Laona is a small town so there is plenty of easy street parking.
STAY ALERT for animals that might make sudden appearances. (According to the DNR there are between 24,000 and 36,000 black bears in Wisconsin.! ⚠️🐻) We recommend bringing Bear Spray!
Gravel conditions will vary depending on day-of weather from dry, dusty, and loose to wet, puddled, and hard-packed with the potential for washboards and washouts. If you do this in the Fall, abundant and randomly scattered multi-color leaves may also impact your traction.
Cell phone coverage is inconsistent and often non-existent. Make sure you preload the route file onto your bike computer for navigation and carry bike maintenance supplies and tools (like tire plugs) with you in case you have a mechanical issue.
Get a post-ride snack or meal at Jar's Bar and Grill, which has Wisconsin cheese curds and just about anything fried you could ever dream of!
Lisa has been an avid cyclist for over 2 decades, but got into gravel riding and racing 5 years ago, while living in Texas. She currently lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and loves exploring new places via roads less traveled.