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The Eisenbahn State Trail gives a nod to Wisconsin’s German heritage in its name—Eisenbahn is German for “railway.” The strict translation, “iron road,” refers to the iron rails originally used as tracks in the old country. A more apt name today might be Velobahn, as the trail is popular for cyclists pedaling the 25 miles between Eden and West Bend. In the winter, most of the trail north of West Bend is open to snowmobiles; winter ATV use is permitted between December 15 and March 15, when the ground is frozen and the temperature is 28°F or lower.
The trail follows the original route of the Milwaukee and Fond du Lac Air Line, a branch of the Milwaukee and Superior Railroad built in the 1850s. It later came under control of the Chicago and North Western Railway in the 1880s. The Fox River Valley Railroad took over in 1988 and operated the line until it stopped using the section from Eden to Rusco Drive in West Bend in 1999. The trail opened in 2006, but the Canadian National Railway runs trains in the corridor from Rusco Drive south to Milwaukee.
Beginning at the Eden Community Park, you’ll head south through Fond du Lac County on a crushed-stone trail that typifies this route until West Bend. The trail passes through farmland along a slightly elevated ridge for good views of the countryside. Only occasional trees shade your passage. In 7.5 miles, you’ll arrive in Campbellsport, where Main Street eateries are only a block away.
Another 4.5 miles brings you to the Washington County line and the village of Kewaskum, named for a chief of the Potawatomi tribe. You also can find refreshments in cafés and grocery stores within one or two blocks of the trail. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail, a hiking trail that stretches for 1,000 miles around Wisconsin, crosses the Eisenbahn State Trail near County Road H on its way to Kettle Moraine State Forest to the east.
Leaving Kewaskum, the trail runs alongside US 45 for 4.5 miles until you reach northern West Bend. Shortly after crossing the Milwaukee River, you’ll find the trail paved from Barton Park south. A side trail, less than a mile from Barton Park, heads to the 136-acre Lac Lawrann Conservancy. More than 200 bird species have been recorded in the nature preserve’s mix of open prairie and hardwood forests. Deer, mink, and muskrat also live here.
Continuing south, the lake on your right is Barton Pond, which powered gristmills and sawmills below the dam in West Bend’s early days. Today the pond is a fishing destination (including ice fishing). After passing the lake, watch for the old railroad depot, built in 1900 and renovated in 2009, about 0.2 mile south of Washington Street.
At the southern end of West Bend, after crossing Decorah Road, Ziegler Park is off a path to the right and has picnic tables, restrooms, and drinking fountains. The trail again becomes rural in its last mile from Paradise Road to Rusco Drive.
NOTE: Snowmobilers and ATV users must display either a Wisconsin registration or an ATV or snowmobile State Trail Pass. For information, go to dnr.wi¿.gov/topic/parks/trailpass.html
To reach the northern trailhead at Eden Community Park from I-41, take Exit 92 onto County Road B toward Eden, heading east. Go 3.7 miles, and turn right onto County Road V. Go 0.6 mile, and turn left onto Shady Ln. Take an immediate left onto Seybold Dr; then go 0.1 mile, and turn right onto Reagan Dr. Turn left into the parking lot. The trail starts just north of Reagan Dr., about 400 feet south of the parking lot.
To reach parking for the trail in West Bend from I-43, take Exit 96 onto SR 33 (E. Green Bay Ave.) toward Saukville, heading west across the Milwaukee River. Go 0.5 mile, and bear right to continue east on SR 33/E. Dekora St. Go 13.3 miles—SR 33 becomes E. Washington St. in Newburg—and turn left onto N. Forest Ave. in West Bend. Go 0.1 mile, and turn right onto Willow Lane; then go 0.1 mile, crossing Wisconsin St. Just after the road curves left, look for parking on your left at the depot and the trail. More parking is available a block south of Willow Lane on the left, at the corner of Wisconsin St. and Water St. The trail endpoint is 3 miles south.
A trailhead at the southern endpoint on Rusco Dr. is planned for the spring of 2017. To reach it from I-43, follow the directions above through the second sentence. Follow WI 33 for 7.5 miles, and turn left onto Decorah Road. Go 5.7 miles, and turn left onto S. River Road. Go 2 miles, and turn right onto Rusco Dr. The trailhead is 0.1 mile ahead on your right.
My husband and I decided to take up biking and this was our first trail ride and we really enjoyed it. I have a small dog and she travels in a pet basket and she also really enjoy the three hour ride. Mostly gravel but well maintained.
My friend and I bike the whole trail. It was hot out but had a great breeze. There are lots of bridges, great scenery, mostly gravel, but paved on the west bend end. There are bugs so spray and you’ll be fine. Fun trail. If us, 2 old ladies and do it, you can too. We are over 70!
This is a nice training ride. It is very flat and not a lot of scenery the first 10 miles out of West Bend. Bring sunscreen because most of it is in the open.
I ride a trike with 2" balloon tires. the first 5 miles from Rusco dr. were great. At Barton it switched to traffic bond (stone) . The stone on top of a hard base was loose . This made for a bumpy and noisy ride. Have ridden hundreds of miles on stone trails and never seen this much loose stone. Still ride able though.
We had limited time and blasted from Eden to Campbellsport and back with a dog in a trailer. The trail was perfect. Crushed limestone I think. A few somewhat tall weeds in places but no big deal. The wildlife from turkeys and turkey vultures (I think that is what they were) were fascinating. Lots of feral house cats (or barn cats) along the way resenting our intrusion but providing merriment as they tripped over themselves trying to run off the trail. We saw no other bikers or people on the trail and this was on a Saturday in June. The solitude was great. When I have more time I would like to explore more of this trail. Great ride.
I love this trail! I've run, walked, and now biked on it. Yesterday, we went north from West Bend about 10 miles, just into Fond du Lac County. It's relatively flat and mostly crushed stone. I can tell you that I really appreciated the paved parts on the home stretch back into West Bend!
I've read other's reviews stating that it's prettiest from Campbellsport to Eden, so I can't wait to check that out as well.
This is a true rail trail. The trail has steep sides in some places and very gentle grades, I didn't see any thing above a 2% grade. The route through West Bend is paved and smooth. The scenery North of Kewaskum is much more bucolic as you get away from paralleling the highway. Most of the crossings are rather safe but there is one north of Campbellsport that can be hazardous as there is a hill on the east side of the trail that can hide an on coming car, we had that experience. Ears open as well as eyes!
Most of the trail is well kept, but there are sections that don't get enough traffic to keep the weeds from growing up the middle. There are some sections the the side have heavy growth and your legs will get whipped as you have to ride into the weeds as the traffic in the other direction.
Mostly sunny and cool. Still nice fall colors. It was fun riding through the little towns with very neat old buildings followed by the country side with farms. Section along Hwy 45 wasn't bad. In a couple of years the vegetation will probably screen the view of the highway.
We parked in the little lot near the Citgo station on Paradise Avenue. Citgo clerks were very nice and they have a nice variety of snacks there too. We rode through empty parking lots along Paradise Ave to stay off busy street, then 1 block on Paradise Ave gravel shoulder before getting onto sidewalk to reach trail.
Very enjoyable trail. Only the West Bend part of trail was paved. One section of gravel was less fine and slightly more difficult than the usual bike path gravel. However it was still easier, smoother, and there was no sliding when compared to riding gravel shoulder on regular roads. Only one spot of trail slightly washed out near a bridge.
Crossing roads wasn't bad but it was Saturday so maybe less traffic than on a week day.
Saw a deer, some herons, male & female pheasants, grass snake on trail, and lots of fuzzy brown & reddish tan caterpillars. Be entertained and watch out for clueless kids riding their bikes across the trail at odd places.
Did not go through any tunnels. Just under some bridges. Mostly over bridges. The reflection of the fall trees into the blue water of the streams/rivers with the white puffy clouds was very beautiful.
It felt like the trail went on a mostly uphill grade on the way to Eden. Plus there was headwind coming off our left side. Campbellsport to Eden felt very long but maybe we were just tired.
We made better time on the way back and it definitely felt like a mostly downhill grade to West Bend.
Everything a bike trail should be.
Parked at Eden Community Park and rode south to West Bend. We stayed overnight in West Bend enjoying a whirlpool suite at the Quality Inn, supper at Applebee's and some custard at Culver's. Motel was very accommodating allowing us to take our bikes right in the room. The trail along the river in West Bend is very nice. We rode back to Eden the next day. The stretch from Cambellsport to Eden is the most scenic. Very enjoyable trip.
We just got back from riding the entire length of this trail and found it to be in excellent condition. We rode from south to north and really enjoyed the quietness of most of the trail. It was a very windy Friday and there were very few trail users so we had it almost to ourselves. I was impressed with its condition and the frequent benches along the way.
The West Bend section is paved, but often crowded. Once you get past keewaskum you will have the trail mostly to yourself. (nice coffee shop in keewaskum). The trail is a bit coarse for the most part with the gravel creating significant resistance in many areas. You sort of get used it until you cross a road and realize how much harder you were working on the trail.
Riding is mostly through rural farm country. Pleasant scenery and enough canopy areas to find cool rest spots on hot days. Long slow grades as on many rail to trail paths. This is kettle moraine country the terrain off the trail is often like a roller coaster to if your looking for some interval hill work this is a good area.
Trail was real smooth, tires on 9-speed bike are slick 32mm and they worked just fine. Lots of bridges along the route, and crossings of the Milwaukee River. The train depot in West Bend is newly restored, with rest rooms and drinking fountain. The park in Kewaskum is also nice with a Dam, fishing pond, playground, and rest rooms.
My husband and I biked from Campbellsport through West Bend to the trail end and then back. Beautiful day, beautiful scenery...nice long bike ride.
I have done this trail in all the way from Rusco rd to Edens Community park twice now. I start at the south end (Rusco Rd.) The paved surface in West Bend is really nice and smooth but you will be sharing with many people especially on weekends (obviously they think it's nice too!) Once the traffic bond surface begins (in Barton) the numbers drop off and a more remote feeling kicks in. Paralleling hwy 45 heading into Kewaskum is a bit of a drag as all the cars have a clear view of the trail and the surface is a bit coarser than regular traffic bond. Add a north wind as we often have and it can be a long stretch. Once you get to the back side of town there is more to see. Heading to Campbellsport you will eventually be all alone as I have rarely seen anyone past this point at any time. Get water/gum/whatever in Campbellsport 'cuz after that the stretch to Eden can seem endless. Ending at the Community park is also quiet as I have rarely seen a soul there. If you are looking for solitude...well this is the trail for you! Until you reach Kewaskum again, you will probably have the trail to yourself. Make sure you are well-fueled/watered and your bike is in shape! If you are looking for solo time-the northern sections of this trail give it to you. Farm scenery zen...! But then if I was not looking for this peace, I wouldn't have done it twice (and will most likely do it again!)
May 15, 2008
Spring finally arrived in Wisconsin after a long hard winter. I was anticipating the day I could finally get outdoors on my Scorpion Fx Trike, and bike through some of Wisconsins' tranquil beauty. That day finally came as I decided to bike the Eisenbahn Trail going north from the city of Kewauskum to the village of Eden, and South to the city of West Bend.
You'll find suitable parking in Kewaskum, which is centrally located between West Bend and Eden, where you'll find a large parking lot next to the trail just east of the stop and go lights in the center of town. From here you can either take the trail North to Eden, or South to West Bend. I find going North is much more scenic and peaceful than going South which happens to run parallel to the highway.
If your going through the city of West Bend, please be careful. There are a number of busy intersections with no stop and go lights to control the traffic except for Hwy 33.
The full length of the trail is crushed limestone until you reach the city limits of West Bend where it turns into a beautiful asphalt trail rising above the Milwaukee River for the next few miles. This is probably the most scenic area on the trail going South. You'll also pass the old depot which has become a restoration project in the making. For the most part, the southern portion of the trail consists mainly of tall brush and some trees, which at least prevents you from seeing portions of the highway, but the noise of cars and trucks racing by are still apparent.
The first 1 3/4 miles of the trail going North is course gravel before it turns into a nice smooth surface of crushed limestone, and the ride becomes more enjoyable. This portion of the trail is much more peaceful and serene except for the lovely sound of song birds. It's worth a stop, or two, just to look around you, smell the fresh country air and listen to the sounds of mother nature calling out.
The scenery along the way consist mainly of farmland, marshes and open woods lining the trail the majority of the way, and if your lucky, the way I was, you'll see a few white tail deer cross the trail in front of you. You'll cross at least nine wood plank bridges as well as a number of country roads, but traffic is very minimal. If you need any supplies, the citco station in campbellsport is right off the trail, where you can pick up extra bottled water or snacks.
The trail going South is almost perfectly flat where as the portion going North has some slight gradients making for a better cardio workout. You can expect to ride approximately 28 miles round trip to the north, and about 21 miles to the South round trip.
I would especially recommend the Northern portion of the trail for anyone looking for that good old country feeling.
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