A self-registration station on the Capital City State Trail.
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- 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.
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||No||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. 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||N/A||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 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) 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.
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.
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 and Discover 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.
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.