Bikepacking is a unique way to explore the world on two wheels. It’s a combination of backpacking and cycling, where you carry all your gear on your bike and ride to your destination. Wisconsin, also known as the Badger State, is an excellent destination for bikepacking enthusiasts. With its beautiful landscapes, rolling hills, lush forests, and scenic routes, Wisconsin is a paradise for cyclists who want to explore the state on two wheels. In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about bikepacking in Wisconsin, from the best routes to the essential gear you’ll need.

Bikepacking is becoming an increasingly popular way of exploring the outdoors while combining the joys of cycling and camping. Wisconsin offers a vast array of trails and routes that cater to bikepackers of all skill levels. In this article, we will delve into the world of bikepacking in Wisconsin, exploring some of the best routes, tips for preparation, and gear essential to make the most of your bikepacking experience in the state.

Preparing for Your Bikepacking Adventure

Choosing the Right Bike

The first step in preparing for your bikepacking adventure is to choose the right bike. Unlike regular cycling, bikepacking requires a specialized bike that can handle the added weight of your gear. You’ll need a bike with sturdy wheels, wide tires, and a durable frame. A touring bike, gravel bike, or mountain bike are all excellent options for bikepacking in Wisconsin.

Essential Gear

When it comes to bikepacking, packing light is the key to a successful trip. However, there are some essential items that you should pack to ensure your trip is safe and comfortable. Here are some of the essential items you should consider packing for your bikepacking trip in Wisconsin:

  • Tent or Hammock
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Water Bottles or Hydration System
  • Headlamp or Flashlight
  • Navigation Tools (GPS, Map, or Compass)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Multi-Tool and Spare Parts

Best Bikepacking Routes in Wisconsin

Key Takeaway: Bikepacking in Wisconsin is a unique and exciting way to explore the state’s beautiful landscapes, and it requires a specialized bike and essential gear such as a tent, sleeping bag, and navigation tools. To have a successful trip, plan your route carefully, pack light, train beforehand, and respect the environment by following Leave No Trace principles. Some of the best bikepacking routes in Wisconsin include The Great Divide Trail, the Wild Goose State Trail, and The Great River State Trail.

The Great Divide Trail

The Great Divide Trail is a 2,700-mile route that runs from Banff, Alberta, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. While the entire route is a popular destination for bikepackers, the Wisconsin section is particularly scenic. The trail covers over 200 miles in Wisconsin and passes through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and the Flambeau River State Forest.

the Wild Goose State Trail

the Wild Goose State Trail is a 32-mile trail that runs from Fond du Lac to Juneau, passing through beautiful farmland and small towns along the way. The trail is suitable for all skill levels and is an excellent option for beginners or those looking for a shorter route.

The Great River State Trail

The Great River State Trail is a 24-mile trail that runs along the Mississippi River from Onalaska to Trempealeau. The trail is known for its beautiful views of the river and the surrounding bluffs. The trail is suitable for all skill levels and is an excellent choice for a relaxing and scenic bikepacking trip in Wisconsin.

Tips for a successful bikepacking trip

Plan Your Route

One of the keys to a successful bikepacking trip is to plan your route carefully. Consider the distance, terrain, and weather conditions when planning your route. Make sure you have a backup plan in case of inclement weather or unexpected road closures.

Pack Light

As mentioned earlier, packing light is crucial for a successful bikepacking trip. Only pack the essentials and avoid unnecessary items that will add weight to your bike.

Train Before Your Trip

Bikepacking can be physically demanding, so it’s essential to train before your trip. Focus on building endurance and strength to help you tackle the hills and long distances.

Stay Hydrated and Fueled

Staying hydrated and fueled is crucial for a successful bikepacking trip. Make sure you have enough water and food to sustain you throughout the trip, and don’t forget to pack snacks for quick energy boosts.

Respect the Environment

When bikepacking in Wisconsin, it’s essential to respect the environment and leave no trace. Pack out all your trash and follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment.

FAQs for Bikepacking Wisconsin

What is bikepacking?

Bikepacking is a combination of cycling and camping. It involves packing camping gear, food, and other essentials onto your bicycle and embarking on a multi-day trip, often on trails or backcountry roads.

What are some popular bikepacking routes in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin is home to several popular bikepacking routes, including the Elroy-Sparta State Trail, the Wild Goose State Trail, and The Great River State Trail. These trails are scenic and well-maintained, making them great choices for both new and experienced bikepackers.

What gear do I need for bikepacking in Wisconsin?

You will need basic camping gear, including a tent, sleeping bag, and cooking equipment. You will also need a sturdy and reliable bicycle, as well as appropriate clothing, a helmet, and a first aid kit. It’s important to pack light and only bring what you will need for the duration of your trip.

When is the best time to go bikepacking in Wisconsin?

The best time to go bikepacking in Wisconsin depends on your personal preference and the specific route you plan to take. Summer months are popular, but can be hot and humid. Spring and fall offer milder temperatures, but can also bring rain and unpredictable weather. Winter should be avoided unless you are an experienced winter cyclist.

Can I camp anywhere along bikepacking routes in Wisconsin?

Camping regulations vary depending on the route and location. Some trails have designated campsites, while others require permits or have restrictions on where you can camp. It’s important to research the route beforehand and follow all camping regulations and Leave No Trace principles.

Are there bike rental options for bikepacking in Wisconsin?

Many bike shops in Wisconsin offer bike rentals, making it easy to try out bikepacking without committing to a new bike. It’s important to ensure the rental bike is appropriate for the terrain and weight you will be carrying.


By Frank

Frank Thompson, a seasoned cyclist and bike aficionado, has been passionate about all things bicycle-related since his childhood. Born and raised in the beautiful Seattle, Frank has spent countless hours exploring the winding trails, scenic roads, and vibrant urban landscapes on two wheels. With over 20 years of experience in the cycling world, Frank has garnered an extensive knowledge of bicycle mechanics, maintenance, and customization. After completing his degree in Mechanical Engineering, Frank pursued a career in the bicycle industry, working with renowned bike manufacturers and local bike shops. His expertise led him to become a sought-after consultant for professional cyclists, weekend warriors, and bike enthusiasts alike. Throughout the years, he has also volunteered with various cycling advocacy groups, promoting safe and accessible cycling infrastructure in the community. Frank's passion for cycling extends beyond his professional life, as he has participated in numerous local and international bike races and charity events. His love for adventure has taken him on several memorable cycling expeditions, from the breathtaking mountain trails of the Rockies to the picturesque coastal roads of the Mediterranean. As a valued contributor to West Seattle Cyclery, Frank shares his wealth of knowledge and experience with our readers through informative articles, how-to guides, and gear reviews. Always eager to help fellow cyclists, Frank is dedicated to making the world of cycling more approachable and enjoyable for everyone. When he's not busy tinkering with bikes or writing for the blog, you can find him exploring new routes, coaching beginner cyclists, or spending quality time with his family and their beloved golden retriever, Buddy.