At least the Wisconsin Department of Tourism understands the great resource it has in sparsely traveled county roads that are perfect for road cycling. To attract cyclists from outside the area, the department of tourism put together a Wisconsin Biking Guide, which offers great maps with 10 designated road routes, 10 mountain bike trails and 10 bike touring trails, complete with excellent maps and guides to amenities on the trail.
The closest of these road routes to Chicago is the Lima Center Tour, which starts and finishes at the Clavath Lakefront Park in Whitewater, Wis. The 33-mile loop explores Jefferson, Rock and Walworth counties, with plenty of rural roads, farm scenery and a view of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
Whitewater, Wis., was a stop on the first cross-state railroad—the Milwaukee & Mississippi, which helped grow the small downtown. The cream-colored homes and storefronts reflect its prosperity in the 19th century. Whitewater was also known for its teachers college, which eventually became the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, which is now how the town is primarily known.
The route starts at the Historic Train Depot, which is part of the Whitewater Historical Society and open from May to October. Heading south from the Clavath Lakefront Park, you’ll take Clover Valley Road south toward the Kettle Moraine State Forest, which is 20,000 acres of preserve that’s more than 30 miles long. It’s a great spot for mountain biking as well.
Clover Valley Road ends, and you’ll turn right on Kettle Moraine Road, which hugs Whitewater Lake. You’ll go past Old World Wisconsin, an outdoor museum of rural life that’s the largest of its kind in the country. More than 60 historic buildings are available to tour from May to October.
The route levels out as you pass through the towns of Utters Corner and Lima Center. From Lima Center you’ll head north on County Road KK, through mostly farmland, until you reach Cold Spring, whose claim to fame is that Abraham Lincoln once had to walk home from there to Illinois in 1832 (more than 200 miles) after his horse was stolen.
Leaving Cold Spring, you’ll take Freemont Road east, which then turns south, talking you back to downtown Whitewater.
What Makes It Great
Wide-open Wisconsin roads make for a great way to get in scenic miles. This route is easy to follow and offers plenty of opportunities to stop for a break—you’ll even find a tavern highlighted on the map. If you want to explore more, this part of Wisconsin offers plenty of rolling hills and scarcely traveled roads.
Who is Going to Love It
Kettle Moraine State Forest and Whitewater Lake are great destination points. This 30 mile, relatively easy route is good for cyclists of all abilities.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Parking is available at Cravath Lakefront Park. All the roads on this route are open to traffic, so plan accordingly.
Have you ridden the Lima Center Tour? What did you think? Leave your comments here or post a photo.