- Contact information
- For information, contact:
Sparta Depot/Sparta Chamber of Commerce
111 Milwaukee St
Sparta WI 54656
Wildcat Mountain State Park
PO Box 99
Ontario WI 54651
Wisconsin State Park System La Crosse River State Trail
The 22-mile La Crosse River State Trail has been developed from the abandoned Chicago and Northwestern Railroad between Sparta and La Crosse. The trail is open to walkers and bicyclists in spring through fall and snowmobiles in winter. Packed-limestone screenings provide a smooth surface for bicycling. Mileage markers are posted every half mile on the 7-mile section between La Crosse and West Salem.
This trail lies in the La Crosse River valley and parallels an active rail line to the north. Prairie remnants, farmland, trout streams, hardwood forests and wetlands are found along the trail. The trail passes through the communities of La Crosse, West Salem, Bangor, Rockland and Sparta.
The La Crosse River State Trail is directly linked to two other state trails. A bridge over Interstate 90 in Sparta connects the La Crosse River State Trail to the Elroy-Sparta State Trail on the east end and the Great River State Trail connects to the trail in La Crosse on the west end.
The trail may bring a number of different users to the trail at the same time. It is important to use good trail etiquette to ensure the enjoyment and safety of all trail users.
Walking and bicycling
The level grade and limestone surface make this trail suitable for bicyclists, walkers and joggers.
Pet owners, please be sure to have your pet on a leash, 8 feet or shorter, at all times. You must pick up after your pet.
There is a DNR campground in Sparta that has non-reservable sites with a self-registration station available to campers for camp fees. The campground offers campsites with a fire ring and picnic table. Hand pumps and pit toilets are available. No firewood is sold at these campgrounds and there are firewood rules to help prevent the spread of pests and diseases. Campsites are walk-in only and vehicles can be parked in adjacent lots. The address is at 9890 Imac Avenue. In Sparta, turn south on John Street. John Street turns into Igloo Road. After crossing under Interstate 90, turn left on Imac Avenue to the campground.
Snowmobiles are permitted on the trail. Operators must follow all Wisconsin snowmobile laws. The trail also connects to numerous miles of county snowmobile trails.
The opening and closing of snowmobile trails is at the discretion of each county. Snowmobile trails which cross DNR lands are opened and closed consistent with the surrounding county (or counties). Whenever possible, the opening and closing of snowmobile trails is done on a county-wide basis, however localized conditions may require localized trail opening and closing. It is the responsibility of the county to provide notification about the status of snowmobile trails. The Travel Wisconsin Snow Conditions Report, and local club and county snowmobile web pages and telephone hotlines will provide the most current information.
The trail is open to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, however, the trail is not groomed and skiers and snowshoers must share the trail with snowmobiles. Skiers do not need a trail pass while using the trail.
No Hunting and trapping allowed on trail
Hunting and trapping are not allowed on the trail corridor. For more information, please see:
State trail passes
State trail passes are required for bikers 16 and older. Daily and seasonal passes are available at the Sparta depot - trail headquarters, 111 Milwaukee Street, Sparta and outlets in towns along the trail.
Sparta: The depot is at 111 Milwaukee Street, Sparta. Exit I-90 on State Highway 16/71 and go west about two miles to Water Street, then south about 0.6 mile to Milwaukee Street. The Sparta Depot serves as trail headquarters. A bridge over Interstate Highway 90 in Sparta connects the La Crosse River Trail to the Elroy-Sparta State Trail on the east end.
Bangor: Exit I-90 on State Highway 162 and go north about 0.3 miles.
Medary: Trail head is about a mile east of North La Crosse. Exit I-90 on State Highway 16 and go south about 1.5 miles to County Highway B, then east about 0.3 miles. A bridge over the active rail line at Medary connects the La Crosse River State Trail to the Great River State Trail to the north.