10 of the Best Bike Trails in the Midwest for 2023

There are plenty of fun adventures waiting for you in the Midwest this summer, especially when you get out on some of the best bike trails in the Midwest, not to mention the many Midwest hiking trails and scenic back roads. Whether in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, or Iowa, we’ve put together a list of some of the best bike trails in the Midwest to get you out exploring and making memories – and that’s just the start of the many great adventures awaiting you when you partner with Midwest Inns, home to the best places to stay in the Midwest

The Midwest states are home to some of the most popular bike trails in the country, including the famed Elroy Sparta Trail in Wisconsin. This popular bike trail not only serves as an inspiration to get out and explore the beautiful state of Wisconsin, but it has also inspired a vast network of similar trails around the country. These popular bike trails in the Midwest have revitalized communities and offer plenty of accessible recreation. They also offer cyclists the opportunity to navigate through some of the most scenic portions of respective Midwestern states. Biking is truly a remarkable way to explore the Midwest! 

Of course, no matter how many or how few of these bike trails in the Midwest you choose to ride, they pair perfectly with a relaxing stay at one of our leading Midwest Bed and Breakfasts. With plenty of unique properties and friendly innkeepers standing by to help you make the most of your getaways, there’s truly no better place to stay in the Midwest than one of our exceptional properties. We have properties located across the Midwest. With outstanding hospitality and top-notch amenities and service, we mean it when we say we offer the best of the Midwest! 

Discover some hidden treasures and enjoy off-the-beaten-path adventures with us across these bike trails in the Midwest. Browse our exceptional group of properties and book a summer filled with fun today!

Tunnels on the Elroy Sparta Trail, one of the best bike trails in the Miwest

Wisconsin Has One of the Best Bike Trails in the Midwest

When it comes to finding unforgettable bike trails in the Midwest, many travelers turn to Wisconsin. The state is, of course, well known for the historic Elroy Sparta Trail, with its historic intact tunnels and beautiful scenery. The Elroy Sparta Trail is one of the most sought-after bike trails in the Midwest, as it was one of the first trails developed under the popular Rails to Trails Conservancy Program. Since this trail was created in 1965, Wisconsin has developed more than 90 similar bike trails, making it one of the leading destinations for bike trails in the Midwest. However, adventures on this Driftless Area gem are genuinely just the beginning of great Wisconsin bike trails worth discovering this summer. 

Beyond the vast network of Wisconsin Bike Trails to explore, you’ll also find plenty of bike-friendly cities in Wisconsin. The State Capital, Madison, for example, has earned national recognition with the League of American Bicyclists for its bike-friendly network of trails. Whether you plan to enjoy an urban adventure or would prefer to cycle through Wisconsin’s beautiful and varied countryside, there are plenty of fantastic Wisconsin bike trails in the Midwest worth exploring. It’s easy to see why this state is one of the best in the Midwest for cycling enthusiasts! Below, we’ve listed 5 of the best Wisconsin bike trails and cycling destinations to ride this summer, in addition to the Elroy Sparta Trail. 

  1. If your time is short and you want to maximize your time on the trails, head to Reedsburg, the biking capital of Wisconsin. There are plenty of great Wisconsin bike trails here, not to mention connections to some of the state’s biggest trails, including the Elroy Sparta Trail, but one of our favorites is the 400 State Trail. These 22 miles of trail travel through some beautiful scenery and serve as a vital connection to 100+ miles of bike trails in the Midwest. 
  2. The Gandy Dancer Trail is another spectacular favorite, which just so happens to travel through two Midwest states; Wisconsin and Minnesota! The Wisconsin segment of this Midwest bike trail meanders for 47 scenic miles near the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. At the Wisconsin-Minnesota Border, you can cross a historic 520-foot trestle bridge over the St. Croix River and find your way on the northern segment of the trail into Minnesota for even more biking adventures. 
  3. Door County is arguably one of the most scenic regions in Wisconsin. As you explore top destinations like Peninsula State Park and Washington Island, spend some time on one of the most scenic bike trails in the Midwest, the Ahnapee State Trail. For 48 scenic miles, you can enjoy a leisurely ride on one of the best Wisconsin Bike Trails, starting from the heart of downtown Sturgeon Bay. 
  4. If you want to explore the popular urban centers of Madison and Milwaukee, it’s never been easier to do so by bike. The cities have great bike trails in and around them, but they are also connected by one of our favorite Wisconsin bike trails, the Glacial Drumlin State Trail, which travels from just outside of Milwaukee in the suburb of Waukesha to Cottage Grove near Madison. 
  5. Bayfield is a popular destination in northwestern Wisconsin, especially for those travelers looking to kayak the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. However, just off the coast of Bayfield is Madeline Island, which also happens to be a spectacular place filled with lovely Wisconsin bike trails and breathtaking scenery. 

Access to these Wisconsin bike trails and more require a state pass, but it’s more than worth it, as these trails serve as popular sources of recreation in all four seasons! 

A senior couple enjoying a fun and leisurely ride on one of the best bike trails in the midwest

The Best Minnesota Bike Trails

Like Wisconsin, Minnesota is a state beloved by cyclists and is home to some of the best bike trails in the Midwest. Among the many lovely Minnesota bike trails around the state is the popular Root River State Trail, a charming rural trail through the state’s scenic, hilly southeastern portion. That, of course, is just one of the many great Minnesota bike trails in the Midwest waiting for you! 

Like many of the Wisconsin bike trails we featured above, these Minnesota bike trails are also open to four seasons of fun and adventure – which means not just great biking but also great opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling! It’s a great way to get outside and experience the land of 10,000 lakes! Below, we’ve listed five must-try Minnesota bike trails around the state. 

  1. Southeastern Minnesota, known as “bluff country,” is one of the most scenic parts of the state, and it’s also home to one of the most popular bike trails in the Midwest; the Root River State Trail. The Root River State Trail is a network of 42 miles of trail near the popular town of Lanesboro. The trail follows the beautiful Root River and connects to other significant regional bike trails, including the Harmony-Preston Valley State Trail
  2. If you find yourself in northern Minnesota near the town of Walker, you’ll find another one of the country’s first Rails to Trails projects on the Heartland State Trail. This trail runs for 49 miles and also offers connections to the North Country National Scenic Trail, the Shingobe Connection Trail, and the Paul Bunyon State Trail.
  3. Just as in Madison, Wisconsin, Minnesota is home to some great urban biking. In the Twin Cities, bikers love the 51-mile Grand Rounds Scenic Byway. The trail consists of seven different segments and is a great way to explore the area, including some of the top attractions like Minnehaha Falls.
  4. The Central Lakes State Trail features 55 miles of paved trails, passing through various beautiful landscapes, including lakes, prairie, and rolling hills. Another former rail line, this Minnesota bike trail is a wonderful way to experience central Minnesota. 
  5. Explore the beautiful, rugged landscapes of the North Shore on the Gitchi Gami State Trail in the Duluth area. This trail is 25 miles long and also connects to popular areas like Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls State Park.

While most of these Minnesota bike trails are flat and relatively easy for various riders, there are also considerable mountain biking trails around Minnesota, particularly in the outdoors-oriented city of Duluth. There, you’ll find fantastic mountain biking destinations like the Duluth Traverse and the lift-served runs at Spirit Mountain. With so much to offer, it’s easy to see why Minnesota is considered to have some of the best bike trails in the Midwest. 

10 of the Best Bike Trails in the Midwest for 2023 1

More Great Bike Trails in the Midwest

So far, we’ve focused on two of the big powerhouse Midwest states for cyclists, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Though both states offer exceptional bike trails and plenty of adventure-packed fun, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not exploring some of the lesser-known bike trails in the Midwest, including those in Illinois and Iowa. These biking adventures are similarly fantastic and offer an excellent way to get out of the cities and enjoy the heart of what makes these states such a great places to travel. Below, find eight more of the best bike trails in the Midwest to consider! 

Illinois

From the flat plains of Illinois to the rolling hills of this state’s Driftless Region along the Mississippi River, there are plenty of fantastic bike trails to enjoy. Sure, there are many options for biking in and around Chicago, but what about once you leave the city? Below, you’ll find 4 of our favorite bike trails in Illinois outside of the great Chicago Metro area. 

  1. Given that Galena is the second most visited destination in Illinois, it makes sense that it’s also home to one of our favorite bike trails in the Midwest. Traveling along the scenic Galena River and through the rolling hills this part of the state is known for, cyclists will certainly enjoy riding the Galena River Trail. The trail starts near the heart of historic downtown Galena and quickly winds its way into the countryside before ultimately ending at Chestnut Mountain Resort, where you can enjoy beautiful views of and even trips on the Mississippi River. 
  2. Like Wisconsin and Minnesota, Illinois has several fantastic Rails to Trails paths, including the 61-mile network known as the Illinois Prairie Path. This trail, founded in 1963, traverses the state connecting communities and providing a beautiful and convenient way to experience some of the best of Illinois. 
  3. If you enjoy the historical tunnels of the Elroy Sparta Trail in Wisconsin, you won’t want to miss the similarly fascinating tunnels and trails featured on the Tunnel Hill State Trail. The trail navigates the 45 miles between Harrisburg and Karnak and, like most Illinois bike trails, connects to other fantastic trails in the area, some of which are historically significant. 
  4. The Great River Road is a spectacular journey along the Mississippi River by car – but you can also do it by bike! The Great River Trail offers more than 60 miles of gorgeous biking along the river in central and northern Illinois. 

Iowa

Bike for miles across the best Iowa Bike Trails, with nothing but gorgeous rural scenery and endless horizons stretching out before you. Whether on one of the Rails to Trails Conservancy trails or other local and regional trail networks, we know you’ll have a fantastic time exploring this beautiful state on two wheels. Below, we’ve listed some of the best Bike trails in Iowa worth exploring this summer!

  1. Enjoy cycling through western Iowa’s rural, pastoral lands on the outskirts of Des Moines on the Raccoon River Valley Trail. This 89-mile trail network travels through 14 communities and is the longest paved loop trail in the country. 
  2. Experience western Iowa’s gorgeous Loess Hills region on the strikingly beautiful Wabash Trace Nature Trail. With 63 miles and 72 bridges to enjoy, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best Iowa bike trails in the Midwest. 
  3. The first rail trail in Iowa was the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. Thanks to the unique combination of rural and urban trails encompassed here, it’s still one of our favorite Iowa bike trails to explore. 
  4. Marvel at the scenic beauty of Iowa and enjoy plenty of wildlife as you travel down the 32-mile Three Rivers Trail

With so many fantastic miles of bike trails in the Midwest to explore, it’s easy to see why biking has blossomed into one of the most popular summer activities in states around the country. Of course, while exploring these trails and more, give yourself somewhere comfortable to relax and unwind at the end of the day. Across the Midwest, there’s no better place to stay than one of our exceptional Midwest Bed and Breakfasts. From Wisconsin to Iowa, we offer the very best in comfort and hospitality. Book your lodging at one of our Midwest Inns today!

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