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Self-registration station

A self-registration station on the Capital City State Trail.

Contact information
For more information, contact:
Wisconsin State Parks

Wisconsin State Park System State trail pass

A state trail pass is required for all people age 16 or older biking, in-line skating, horseback riding, cross-country skiing or off-highway motorcycling on certain trails. A state trail pass is not required for walking or hiking. A state trail pass is issued to the person, not the bike, horse, motorcycle, etc. It is non-transferable, meaning the pass cannot be passed from person to person or shared with others. The state trail pass must be filled out to be valid. A vehicle admission sticker is required on all motor vehicles stopping in state parks and recreation areas. Some state forest and trail parking areas also require a vehicle admission sticker.

State trail pass fees Annual Daily
Wisconsin resident or non-resident $20 $4

Wisconsin state trail pass fees are the same for residents and non-residents. The annual state trail pass is good for the calendar year (January 1 to December 31) and the daily state trail pass is good for the day of purchase.

FAQs

State trail pass frequently asked questions

Which trails require a state trail pass?

A state trail pass is required on certain trails within the Wisconsin State Park System that allow biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, in-line skating and off-highway motorcycling. These trails are in state parks, forests and recreation areas and are also stand-alone state trails. Signs are posted at trailheads on the trails that require a state trail pass.

County and local trails in Wisconsin may have their own fees, and state trail passes are not valid at those trails.

The state park, forest and recreation area trails that require a state trail pass are:

Property name Bicycling (off-road) Cross-country skiing Horseback riding In-line skating Off-highway motorcycling
Black River State Forest Yes Yes Yes N/A Yes
Blue Mound State Park Yes Yes N/A N/A N/A
Brule River State Forest N/A Yes N/A N/A N/A
Flambeau River State Forest No Yes N/A N/A N/A
Governor Dodge State Park Yes No Yes N/A N/A
Governor Knowles State Forest N/A Yes Yes N/A N/A
Hartman Creek State Park Yes Yes Yes N/A N/A
Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area N/A Yes N/A N/A N/A
Lake Wissota State Park No No Yes N/A N/A
Lapham Peak Unit - Kettle Moraine State Forest Yes Yes Yes N/A N/A
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest Yes Yes N/A N/A N/A
Northern Unit - Kettle Moraine State Forest Yes Yes - Zillmer
No - Greenbush

Yes N/A N/A
Peninsula State Park Yes Yes N/A N/A N/A
Perrot State Park N/A Yes N/A N/A N/A
Richard Bong State Recreation Area Yes No Yes N/A Yes
Southern Unit - Kettle Moraine State Forest Yes Yes Yes N/A N/A
Wildcat Mountain State Park N/A No Yes N/A N/A

Not all of the 41 State Trails [PDF] require a state trail pass to use the trail. The State Trails that require a state trail pass are:

Trail name Bicycling Cross-country skiing Horseback riding In-line skating Off-highway motorcycling
400 State Trail Yes No Yes N/A N/A
Badger State Trail Yes No N/A Yes N/A
Bearskin State Trail Yes No N/A N/A N/A
Buffalo River State Trail Yes No Yes N/A N/A
Capital City State Trail Yes No N/A Yes N/A
Chippewa River State Trail Yes No N/A Yes N/A
Elroy-Sparta State Trail Yes No N/A N/A N/A
Fox River State Trail Yes No Yes Yes N/A
Gandy Dancer State Trail Yes No N/A N/A N/A
Glacial Drumlin State Trail Yes No N/A Yes N/A
Great River State Trail Yes No N/A N/A N/A
Hillsboro State Trail Yes No N/A N/A N/A
La Crosse River State Trail Yes No N/A N/A N/A
Military Ridge State Trail Yes No N/A Yes N/A
Mountain-Bay State Trail Yes No N/A N/A N/A
Old Abe State Trail Yes No Yes Yes N/A
Pecatonica State Trail Yes No Yes N/A N/A
Red Cedar State Trail Yes Yes N/A N/A N/A
Stower Seven Lakes State Trail Yes Yes N/A N/A N/A
Sugar River State Trail Yes No N/A Yes N/A
Tomorrow River State Trail Yes No Yes N/A N/A
White River State Trail Yes No Yes N/A N/A

Why do these trails require a state trail pass?

They were selected by DNR staff for a variety of reasons, including the quality of experience they offer, their popularity, their maintenance costs, and the DNR ’s ability to enforce the requirement in these locations.

Where does the state trail pass money go?

Money from the sale of state trail passes is deposited into the parks segregated account of the state Conservation Fund. Along with state tax dollars, the trail fee revenues are used for maintaining and operating state trails, parks and recreation areas. For trails, these costs include such things as dealing with erosion, trash removal, maintaining safe surfaces, trimming brush, removing fallen trees and law enforcement. Additional funds, which come from ATV and snowmobile registration fees, are allotted to trails that allow ATVs and snowmobiles.

Last year, the state collected a total of about $1.26 million in state trail pass fees (previous recent years have ranged from $1.01 to $1.30 million in revenues). The revenue generated by the state trail pass does not cover expenses for the trails for which it is charged. For example, the average revenue for state-operated state trails [PDF] was $29,171 in 2008. For the same time, average expenses for each trail were $84,341. The difference in the amount required to operate a state trail and the money received from the sale of state trail passes is covered by monies from the separate Wisconsin State Park System account which includes funds from state park admission stickers, camping fees and some state tax dollars.

Why don’t snowmobilers, ATV riders, and hikers need state trail passes?

Snowmobilers and all-terrain vehicle riders pay for their trails through registration fees and gasoline taxes. Every state trail that allows ATV or snowmobile use receives some of this money. Wisconsin law requires those who use Wisconsin ATV or snowmobile trails to display either Wisconsin registration or an ATV or snowmobile trail pass. ATV and snowmobile trail passes are different from the state trail pass and are available through the DNR’s licensing system.

In general, bike, ski and horse trails are more expensive to maintain than hiking trails. Also the exemption for pedestrians (which include snowshoers) enables everyone access to Wisconsin trails.

What if I don’t have a state trail pass?

Trail users must purchase their state trail pass before using the trail. There is a $5 surcharge (in addition to the cost of the state trail pass) for anyone who fails to pay for a pass before using the trail. If a trail user refuses to buy a pass or self register, a citation can be issued.

How long has there been a state trail pass?

Since January 1994, the state trail pass has been required for certain off-road (mountain) bike, horse, and cross-country ski trails, as well as trails used by in-line skaters and off-highway motorcyclists. Cyclists on railroad grade trails have been charged a fee since 1978.

Who created the state trail pass?

Wisconsin State Statute 27.01(8) [exit DNR] authorizes the establishment of the state trail pass. With statutory authority, the current state trail pass was approved by the Natural Resources Board in 1993 with the support of many user groups. The pass was created to raise much needed trail maintenance funds. The state trail pass complies with the State Trails Strategic Plan, completed in 1992 after comments from user group leaders and many other people around the state. The Department of Natural Resources also conducted surveys and focus group discussions with trail users and consulted the State Trails Council before recommending the fees. Wisconsin Administrative Code 45.12(3) [exit DNR] establishes the cost of the state trail pass.

How can I sell state trail passes?

If you are interested in selling state trail passes, please contact your local DNR property manager. There may be a local organization such as a friends group or the property itself, for which you can become a sub-vendor of state trail passes. If that is not the case, you will be referred to the State Trails Coordinator in Madison who can set you up as a direct vendor of state trail passes.

State Trail Pass Vendor Information

How to buy

Purchase vehicle admission stickers and state trail passes

There are many options for buying state park stickers and state trail passes:

  • Most visitors buy their daily or annual sticker when they get to a state park and forest entrance. Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express are accepted when the park office is open. Self-registration stations are available for payment of fees when the office is closed.
  • Department of Natural Resources service centers sell stickers and state trail passes.
  • Some businesses near state trails sell state trail passes.
  • Annual admission stickers and state trail passes can be purchased over the phone by calling the DNR at 888-936-7463 between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.
  • Stickers and passes can be purchased online as part of gift packages [exit DNR] from the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks.

There's an additional $5 fee for anyone who fails to pay the fee before using the park, trail, or campsite if there's a self-registration station available.

Last revised: Monday August 25 2014