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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.
Please note: The new state trail pass rates are shown below.
- Annual trail passes: 2016 annual trail passes will go on sale beginning Dec. 1. The 2016 annual rates apply if you are purchasing an annual trail pass during the month of December for the 2016 calendar year.
- Daily trail passes : If you are purchasing a daily trail pass in November or December, the 2015 rates apply. The 2016 daily rates will be effective beginning Jan. 1.
The 2016 annual trail passes are valid through Dec. 31, 2016.
|State trail pass fees||Annual||Daily|
|Wisconsin resident or non-resident||$25||$5|
The 2015 annual trail passes are valid through Dec. 31, 2015.
|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 pass is good for the calendar year and the daily pass is good for the day of purchase. A state trail pass is issued to the person, not the bike, horse, motorcycle, and is non-transferable, meaning that it cannot be passed from person to person or shared with others. The state trail pass must be filled out to be valid.
Buying 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 from the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks.
Thank you for supporting the Wisconsin State Park System. User fees including state trail passes, vehicle admission stickers and camping fees provide most of the money for operating Wisconsin state parks, forests, recreation areas and trails.
Frequently asked questions
Click below for some frequently asked questions about the Wisconsin state trail pass.
- I don't have a trail pass
What if I don't have a state trail pass?
Trail users must purchase their state trail pass before using the trail. Self-registration stations are available for payment of fees when the office is closed. There is a $5 fee (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.
- Trails where a pass is required
Which trails require a state trail pass?
A state trail pass is required on certain trails 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.
Please remember a vehicle admission sticker is required on all motor vehicles stopping in state park, forest, recreation area and trail parking areas.
State park, forest and recreation area trails that require a state trail pass:Swipe for more... 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 Mirror Lake State Park No Yes N/A 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 require a state trail pass to use the trail.
State Trails that require a state trail pass:Swipe for more... 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.
- Other trail users
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.
- Trail pass funds
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 $1.3 million in state trail pass fees (previous recent years have ranged from $1.2 to just over $1.30 million in revenues with about 80% coming from annual passes and 20% from daily passes). 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 was $29,711 in 2014. For the same time, average expenses for each trail were $69,811. 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.
- Trail pass history
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) 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) establishes the cost of the state trail pass.
- Selling passes
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.