Trail Report: Cable, Wisconsin

Yes, there is real mountain biking in the Midwest

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Sitting in the middle of the Seeley Pass Trail, the Gravity Cavity is a feature everyone talks about. Snaking it’s way through a large gulley, riders are treated to large flowy turns back and forth as they gain and lose speed just through the nature of design.

Sitting in the middle of the Seeley Pass Trail, the Gravity Cavity is a feature everyone talks about. Snaking it’s way through a large gulley, riders are treated to large flowy turns back and forth as they gain and lose speed just through the nature of design (click to enlarge).

Editor’s Note: Jordan Carr and co-author and photographer Leilani Bruntz are currently traveling the country spreading the gospel of mountain biking as the Subaru-IMBA Trail Care Crew. Along the way they get to explore some of the country’s best riding locales, and then share them with you in this reoccurring Mtbr Trail Report series. Follow Carr and Bruntz’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram, and let us know in the comments section below if you have additional beta about these great riding destinations. And be sure to check out their write-ups on Salida, Colorado, Oakridge, Oregon, and Phoenix, Arizona.

“How can they call it mountain biking in the Midwest?”

This question from a friend resonated through my head as we bobbed and weaved our way through the newly cut, rocky and undulating “Danky Dank” trail just outside Cable, Wisconsin. Though void of true mountains, the mountain bike culture is alive and kicking strong in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

Known for its extensive mountain bike history, the area is home to one of the oldest mountain bike races in the Midwest. The Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival began in 1983 and the area has continued its acceptance of the mountain bike community ever since. Although early riding centered mostly on pedaling double track ski trails through the summer months, the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) has been creating excellent local relationships, while systematically working to promote continued trail development.

These vital steps have proven successful, as CAMBA has created more than 100 miles of trail in the past 20 years, while diversifying the local offering for the growing needs of riders.

CAMBA’s hard work has created some amazing trail experiences; riders of all types will enjoy the variety of trails in and around Cable, especially if you like big rides.

CAMBA’s hard work has created some amazing trail experiences; riders of all types will enjoy the variety of trails in and around Cable, especially if you like big rides (click to enlarge).

Divided up by regional clusters, the diversity of terrain, trail mapping, signage and organization of the CAMBA trails is top-notch. The Cable area has quickly become a destination for riders of all interests, while the quaint local amenities and abundance of lakeside accommodations offer a down home Midwestern experience. Indeed, the Northwoods of Wisconsin is a truly great place to spend a warm summer weekend on your bike.

Here’s a rundown of some (but certainly not all) or the top trails. Check out page 2 for beta on bike shops, food spots and lodging.

There is no shortage of rocks in both the Cable and Namakagon trail clusters. Danky Dank provides an array of technical challenges and is insanely fun for more advanced riders looking to challenge themselves.

There is no shortage of rocks in both the Cable and Namakagon trail clusters. Danky Dank provides an array of technical challenges and is insanely fun for more advanced riders looking to challenge themselves (click to enlarge).

Rock Lake Loop

Meandering lazily through dense Midwestern hardwoods, the Rock Lake loop avails riders great views of the expansive Northwoods forest. Awarded IMBA Epic status for good reason, Rock Lake features everything from technical rock armoring to buffed out singletrack handcut intricately along the constantly undulating terrain.

Overviews of lakes complement dense forests, while providing excellent regroup spots along the loop. Located in the Namakagon cluster of the CAMBA Trails, the Rock Lake trail features about 12 miles of singletrack that includes Hildebrand Lake Loop, 5-mile Cut-off, and Emerson Lake Cut-off. The trail can be accessed from the Rock Lake Trailhead 7 miles east of Cable on County Highway M.

Seeley Pass begins at the OO Trailhead and offers a fun, fast, flowy trail experience.

Seeley Pass begins at the OO Trailhead and offers a fun, fast, flowy trail experience (click to enlarge).

Seeley Pass Trail

Located between the larger community of Hayward and quaint little Cable, the Seeley Trail cluster originates at the OO Highway trailhead just east of Seeley and offers access to an extensive network of trails. As the backbone of the Seeley trail cluster, the Seeley Pass trail snakes northward toward Cable, combining traditional flowy singletrack with sections with jumps, rollers, and berms.

Uphill Dank
 
There is no shortage of great turns on the CAMBA trails. No matter how fast you like to ride, these well-designed trails offer a great example of how fun trails can be (click to enlarge).

This is a great trail for all skill levels, and is truly an example of how all types of riders can find enjoyment on a single trail. Seeley Pass can be ridden as an out and back, or linked with a variety of other trails within the Seeley cluster. Or even extend northward into the Cable-area trail cluster.

Danky Dank Trail

This newly constructed bike optimized trail located in the Cable trail cluster offers a vastly different experience from most of the other trails in the area. Berms and rollers create a unique roller coaster experience. But this is no smooth flow trail. Instead numerous rocky technical sections litter the double black diamond rated trail. Numerous optional lines provide even more technical challenge for riders looking to push their limits.

Zigzagging its way through the rocky hillsides northeast of the now defunct Telemark Resort, Danky Dank will eventually connect the Esker trail (Cable cluster) with the Rock Lake loop (Namakagon cluster).

Continue to page 2 to learn about the best bike shop, food spots and accommodations in the Cable, Wisconsin area »

About the author: Jordan Carr

When not spreading his passion for singletrack as one half of the Subaru-IMBA Trail Care Crew along with his girlfriend Leilani Bruntz, Jordan Carr can be found pedaling, hiking, skiing, or posted up at a local brew pub enjoying a beverage. Having spent more than half his life riding all types of bikes at almost every type of cycling event, Carr loves the freedom two wheeled travel has brought to his life. Having spent many years behind the stand at a bike shop, he’s tested mountain bike products for a number of publications. Follow Carr and Bruntz's adventures as they travel the country promoting trails and mountain biking on Facebook and Instagram.


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  • Cracker69 says:

    I make the pilgrimage to the CAMBA trails every year to race in the Chequamegon Fat Tire. Its a necessity to stay for a few days and enjoy the CAMBA trails. In addition to the trails described their are numerous other trails that rate mention: The Esker, The Ojibwa, The Makwa, Flow Mama are all great adventures. The trails in this area are clearly built with the rider experience in mind – lots of flow and roll along with some pumpy sections. I agree that Seeley Pass is the trail for everyone, ride it fast and its busy and engrossing, ride it slow and its accessible to all. The terrain in Wisconsin often lends itself to consistently varied riding, small climbs and flowing transitions along with plenty of rocky areas. All this makes for highly entertaining riding with a good amount of cardio engagement. Its not an area for continuous bombing downhill – it is a great deal more than that.

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