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.
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.
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 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.
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).