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The Wild Goose State Trail is a premier rail-trail, spanning approximately 35 miles in Dodge and Fond du Lac counties. If you are looking for a peaceful and beautiful place to visit, this trail has it all. Almost the entire trail is tree-covered, very flat and well maintained. The "wild" in the trail name is apt, as wildlife is in abundance. If you are traveling by bike, you will want to concentrate on the trail surface: chipmunks frequently scramble across the path. Throughout the trail there are multiple highway and farm access roads to cross; they are all well marked, but use caution.
Starting from the southern endpoint, Clyman Junction, you'll travel through wooded areas and farmland on a crushed stone surface. A horse path parallels the trail for 7.5 miles from Clyman Junction to Minnesota Junction.
Several industrial buildings mark your arrival in Juneau, where you'll find a typical small town with a few restaurants and bars to visit. The trail becomes a bit tricky to follow where it passes through a grassy lot and then resumes. Rule of thumb: go straight when the trail seems to disappear and you will find it again shortly.
Outside of Juneau, the trail quickly returns to farmland. Although the trail skirts the western edge of the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area, you will not actually see the marsh. You may, however, see some of its feathered inhabitants: herons, egrets and hawks, to name a few. A tenth of a mile before you reach State Route 49, look for the sign marking the short path to the Marsh Haven Nature Center. Covering 32,000 acres, the Horicon Marsh is one of America's most important wetlands. Tour the marsh on guided or self-directed canoe or kayak tours, and don't miss the spring and fall migratory season, when it is estimated that more than 500,000 birds pass through.
Crossing into Fond du Lac County for its final 15-mile stretch, the trail again becomes rural and flat. Trees provide continuous shelter where the trail takes you into the community of Fond du Lac, passing next to a parking lot at a railroad crossing. A newer extension—the only paved portion of the Wild Goose State Trail—takes trail users via a bridge over US 41 to W. Pioneer Road. Fond du Lac is blessed with beautiful views of the water. Make sure to stop by Lakeside Park at the edge of Lake Winnebago for a picnic after your trail visit and sit right at water's edge near the lighthouse.
When the snow flies (December through March only), skiers, snowmobilers and ATVers hit the trail, followed by the spring migration of birds wintering over in Horicon Marsh. Note that motorized users are only permitted on the main trail when conditions allow, and winter ATV use is restricted to Dodge County only. Summertime's expansive green fields and dense tree canopies give way to spectacular fall foliage, making any time of year a good time to visit the Wild Goose State Trail.
To reach Clyman Junction from Milwaukee, take State Route 41 north to State Route 60 west through Hartford. Continue on SR 60 west past Road M in Clyman Junction. The trail entrance will be on your right; parking is available.
To reach Clyman Junction from the north, follow State Route 26 south through Juneau. Four miles south of Juneau, turn left on SR 60. The trail entrance is approximately 1.5 miles on left.
In Fond du Lac, take S. Military Road and turn east onto Rolling Meadows Drive. After passing a golf course on the right, go approximately 0.25 mile. You'll find the trailhead, with parking, right before the railroad crossing on your right.
The trail cuts through the city of Juneau; there is ample parking in the community. There are official trail parking areas off State Route 33, Road B in Burnett and at the Marsh Haven Nature Center entrance off SR 49.
We rode the entire trail plus a short side trip on the auto route in the Horican Marsh for a total of 72.5 round trip miles on September 20. Much of the trail has lost its limestone and is now just grass or slippery, hard packed dirt. There are many small holes that are hard to see due to the shade. These holes are not pleasant to ride over. The Dodge County portion of the trail is better maintained than the Fond Du Lac County portion. If you live near the trail you would probably ride it, but I would not travel any distance to ride this trail. My wife and I travel the state to ride different trails. We won't be coming back to this one.
Let me preface this by saying we only rode 1/2 the trail. From the southern end south of Juneau up to a few miles north of Burnett.
The pros: Very flat trail; with a majority of it tree-lined on at least one side and shaded for substantial portions. Part of trail in Juneau is paved which was great. Also in Juneau the trail rides by a park where the bathrooms have running water and the drinking water is refreshing and cold. From Juneau south there is an Interplanetary Trek display which includes informational markers on each of the planets. Most interesting is they are staggered to provide relative distance between each planet. We encountered very few users south of Juneau, it picked up north but was never crowded. Lots of birds, chipmunks, and deer.
The cons: South of Juneau the trail is pretty grassy and goes by a gun-range. It's a little unsettling to hear constant gun-fire as you ride by, but it's not that bad. The worst part was the mosquitoes. There were several times we tried to stop and were plagued by swarms of mosquitoes in less than a minute so we had to keep riding. I had over a dozen mosquito bites when I was done. Near Juneau there was also a nauseating stench which threatened to overwhelm the senses. Not sure what it was, but it was rank. Also there was a tree down across the path just south of Gubin Road. We had to lift out bikes across that.
We biked this trail in June from Hwy 33 north to Hwy 49 with a side trip into the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge where we biked the 3 mile auto route plus the 2 mile round trip on one of the dike roads (which, in June-July-August, are only open to bikes and hiking). A total of 32 miles overall.
At the time we biked the trail lots of snapping turtles nests had hatched in the limestone trail but as long as you didn't hit one it was okay. A tree had fallen over the trail a couple of miles north of Hwy 33 so I called Dodge County to report it (signs along the trail give a number to call to report problems) and by the time we came back down the trail it had been fully removed.
Wonderful sights of farmland and fields plus turkeys, vultures, a large flock of sheep, hawks, lots of birds, tiger swallowtail butterflies and a little brown bat sleeping behind the plexiglass of one of the county trail signs. On the ride into the Refuge we saw lots of egrets, herons, coots, grebes, geese, pelicans kettling on the updrafts, yellow headed blackbirds and a barred owl.
Will be doing the trail from Hwy 49 to Fond du lac soon and will report on that experience.
Originally we had planned to ride the bike trail around Horicon Marsh but the Horicon Marsh trail shares a narrow, no paved shoulder, hilly, curvy, road with cars doing 55+ mph for quite a long distance. So we stopped in Marsh Haven center, (neat animals & exhibits), talked to the real nice lady there, and decided to ride the Wild Goose trail to Fond du Lac.
We parked in the gravel lot near the trail and just off Hwy 49. The fall colors are pretty much gone. In most places the trees arch over the road. Saw lots of farms and farm animals. A field of at least 30 sheep turned their heads and watched us go by. The cattle just ignored us. Lots of bird calls.
There is grass growing down the center on most of the trail until you're close to Fond du Lac. However that was a good thing, as it rained the night before and the trail was very slippery in places. Fishtailing in slippery mud on a Schwinn twin tandem bike is an exhilarating experience. By the third time we had gotten good at it. We don't go very fast. Traction was improved by riding in the grassy center. Make sure to watch out for leaf covered large gopher holes. Not any downed branches on the trail this time.
Clyman Junction at the start of the trail had a very welcome large portapotty but that might have been there for the road construction workers. The trail in the beginning was packed stone with grass growing in the middle and trees arching over the trail.
It was no big deal finding your way and riding through Juneau as the trail route changes was marked with little brown signs and the road crossings were marked with white painted lines. A portion of the trail was paved in Juneau. We also rode past a park.
Most of the trail was packed stone and not bad. Although it was rougher in parts than other trails we have ridden on so far. Sometime after a bridge there appears to be a trail straight ahead overgrown with grass. However I think the trail reroutes you around by following the ATV route signs.
Bring water and food because there is not a lot of amenities along the way. Although there is a gas station in Juneau where you could probably buy snacks.
The wind break of trees was very welcome as we rode on a very gusty, windy day. When we got into open areas with fields our bike blew around. Could only make 23 miles one way. Would like to start at the other end of the trail in Fond du Lac next time. We saw lots of birds because of Horicon Marsh. Would like to ride our bike around Horicon Marsh loop sometime.
We biked this trail yesterday from Oakfield to 2 miles past Hwy 49. It is a very, very nice trail. It is flat, shady and in very good condition. We biked 19 miles there and back.
I rode the Fond du Lac section a few miles past Oakfield. The trail is overgrown and has minimal to no maintenance. With all the beautiful trails in the state do not waste your time on this one. This one should be a ATV trail not a bike trail.
Do NOT, under any circumstances, attempt to bike this trail in the summer.
There is standing water on either side and the trail is absolutely crawling with clouds of gnats.
You'll thank me for this advice. Would have saved me a lot of trouble.
09/15/12 - Completed the WGST from HWY 60 to Fond du Lac. Total of 45 miles. Temp at 43 at start and 81 at end. sunny all day. Very nice trail. Easy ride. As other described, tree lined most of the way. Only met about a dozen other bikers along the way. See if you can find the artesian well in Burnett. Numerous small bridges and farm crossings along the way. Largest bridge is over the South Branch of the Rock River. The bridge was built in 1903. (see if you can find the date plate on the bridge) I also found a side road a little north of Burnett that took me into the middle of the Horicon Marsh. Added about 10 miles but worth it. Even though the water in the marsh was low, there was still some wildlife to see. The road is for hiking or biking only. I did not see anybody else on that trail. I will post pictures. -Ron
We just rode most of the trail, from Oakfield south to Clyman Junction. Though it wasn't a hot sunny day we still enjoyed the tree cover. With the current drought the water level in the Marsh is very low, so the birds are not as abundant. The trail is in excellent condition and very enjoyable. We thought we would see more trail users since we rode on a Saturday, but there was almost no one else on it. I'd like to go back in the fall during migratory season, but it's nice any time.
Rode this trail 10 miles up from the southern trail head, on a very warm day. A lot of the trail is tree lined, which felt nice and was very pretty. Will definately ride again and try to get closer to Horican Marsh.
We rode the trail from Clyman Junction to Burnett on 9/19/09. A few miles in, we noticed hunters in their blaze orange in the field on the west side of the trail. Not thinking much of it we continued. On our return trip, a blast was fired over our heads and buckshot and leaves rained down on us. Again, we saw the hunters clearly and don't understand how they could not know a bike trail was there. This was not at the rifle range which was a couple miles south. That range was plenty busy with lots of gunfire, but it was behind a cement wall. Aside from that, the trail south from Juneau was wonderful. Very secluded and scenic!
The trail in Fond du lac many ditches that have filled in over the years and they are flooding the trail. One section by Highbridge Road north of Oakfield has been very bad for years. Also between Willow Road and the Hwy 151 tunnel ditches have fill in and can be muddy. They think putting down more stone will raise the trail and stop the trail flooding?
In August, 2008 I planned to bicycle from the Juneau city park (very nice park) to Marsh Nature Center located on highway 49. A couple of miles before reaching highway 49 the trail dead ended. One can see where the trail once continued but now that continuation has grass growing 3 feet high and a sign says "trail closed". I turned around and returned to Juneau. On my return to Juneau a local told me that I could have bypassed the closed trail section by using county roads. It is unfortunate that there was no sign where the trail ended to tell how to bypass using the county roads. This is a nice trail but in need of some maintenance to clear the short grass growing on the trail mileage I rode.
Flat Rock, NC
Rode the Wild Goose trail in mid August 06. Started ride
at the Horicon Marsh parking area near Waupun. Went north
to Oakfield first then south to Juneau. North third of trail is wide and smooth riding. South two thirds of trail becomes narrow and grass overgrowth along the trail. Overall I did enjoy the ride and will ride the trail again in 07. The park and rest area
in Juneau would also make a good starting point. There is
nice towns along the way to buy water and food. I ended
up with 50 miles total for the day. This trail can go on your list of trails to ride.
"My husband and I biked this trail in July, 2005. The trail was generally in good biking condition with a few gopher holes to watch out for. The trail is canopied by beautiful mature trees making it a great ride on a hot summer day. We were not able to find any food options along the trail except in Fond du Lac. Taking a side trip into the Horicon Marsh adds to the beauty and uniqueness of this trail. There was a section of the trail that either was never completed, or the land owners no longer allow the trail to be maintained. The signage for the ""detour"" around this section should be improved. We saw lots of wildlife on the trail including turkey and herons. In the fall, during the migration, the view of the marsh and the geese would be fantastic."
"I rode this trail in early September. The trail has a crushed gravel surface, that while firm, has grass growing in the center in many areas and a few large gopher holes that can surprise you.
There is one short section of this trail that isn't completed. Coming from the south there is no signage that directs you where to go. You have to turn left and ride the road to the first right which brings you back to the trail. Coming from the North there are signs to direct you.
The Horicon Wildlife Refuge is a nice side trip on the trail. The 4 mile loop is an easy ride and provides an easily accessible restroom.
This trail would be helped by some signage at the kiosks directing you to restaurants and restrooms."
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