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I am thinking of putting together a week on the bike this late spring. The idea is to take as many rails to trails style paths as possible. Area is Central Wisconsin.

So far I have read about The 400, Elroy-Sparta and Nicolet trails. Ideally, I would take the Amtrak/Metra to some drop-off spot and get going north and west. 

Any ideas or suggestions on connecting trails so as to make this longer than a one-day ride? I am not averse to riding on country roads but prefer the safety of the R2T type paths.

Also, if you have done something like this and can chime in on the do's and don'ts, I would appreciate it.

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Consider Amtrak to LaCrosse, Trails to Reedsburg (River trail, La Crosse-Sparta, Sparta-Elroy, 400 to Reedsburg) and roads to Columbus Amtrak. Or get the road miles done first from Columbus and trails to LaCrosse. Camping along the way isn't hard. Along Elroy-Sparta i'd recommend Tunnel Trail campgroound near Wilton or the town park campground in Wilton, i've stayed at both (town/county parks are cheap and often provide basic comforts like proper toilets.)

 You'd have to be creative in routing from Coumbus to avoid major highways, but there is a short trail available along the Wisconsin river into Portage. Study Google maps.

You could consider an out-and-back from LaCrosse with side trips along the way. If you're fat-walleting your trip, there are plenty of small motels all along the route.

It amazes me that Wisconsin Dells Amtrak does not have baggage service, considering the potential tourist trade. Chalk that up to federal under-funding of Amtrak.

The only problem i see with your method (which sounds great, BTW) is that a lot depends on the individual conductor. The conductor is the Boss of the Train, and their word is Law. If the conductor is having a bad day or is otherwise grumpy, they may not agree to your moving the bike around on their train. A lot will also depend on how crowded the train is.

i remember a conductor on the Hiawatha at Milwaukee who would not allow a passenger take a dismantled (essentially rinko'd) bike on his nearly empty coach , and when i spoke up and asked him why he threatened to put me off his train as well. It'd be a good idea to have a backup plan in case you get that conductor.

i wonder if anyone else has experience with Amtrak they could relate here?

The threat came while we were still in the station, and i could've taken the next train, but i needed to get home and i pick my battles. That conductor was rather belligerent and obviously liked to be The Boss. i hope the other guy was able to catch the next train, but wotta pain in the arse! At the time i was taking the Hiawatha 2 or 3 weekends a month and knew a lot of the crews by sight- so they knew me as well. i tried to avoid that guy's coach thenceforth.

Where is there a smokers' lounge? Lower level on the superliners? All Amtrak trains are non-smoking. On trans-con trips,15-20 minute smoke stops are made every few hours and smokers stand around the platform chain-smoking in the rain or snow.

My solution might be to set up a bike for rinko and most likely wouldn't have a problem with a bagged bike; i may be doing that trip in the near future.

Airlines have even harder rules. Even if the bike is packed down in a case within their size limits, if they so much as suspect you have a bike, they'll nail you for a big surcharge.

 These replies have good important information.  I checked today, Bob Kastigar  and others are correct. You can buy a ticket from Union Station to Wisconsin Dells and you buy a bike reservation to allow your bike in the baggage car of that train. The train, Empire Builder, will stop at Wisconsin Dells and you, yourself can easily walk off.  But, THEY WON’T LET YOUR BIKE OFF THE TRAIN!.

 The same train allows non-baggage service station Winona to load and unload bikes. Winona has “Trailside Bike Service” but not checked baggage.  I don’t know what Winona station has that Wisconsin Dells station lacks other than Amtrak approval. 

  As for clp’s method of “ accommodating conductors” it might work but I wouldn’t plan a pleasure trip around it.  My bike trips lower my anxiety, not raise them. I have taken a bicycle one wheel cargo trailer on two Amtrak trips,  but that is another story. 

I removed my comments as I see above there is a link to Amtrak's bike policy. I will plan accordingly. 

I suspect it has to do with the length of the platform.

Shorter stops allow for passengers to get on or off but then the baggage car is outside the platform. I've been to Wisconsin Dells (without my bike!) and it's like that.

Thanks Elwood. I just accepted but missed the message. Shoot me a note when you can and we can catch up on the topic.

I would post your question on the crazyguyonabike forums, as there are a lot of people with experience there. In particular, there's a rider named Ron Wallenfang who has posted about riding to every county in Wisconsin, so he probably has plenty of knowledge to share. A cross country route with over 50% rail trails.

Thanks, I read the article and saved some of the links. 


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