Trail bicyclists will find two popular mountain biking trails (John Muir and Emma Carlin) within 15min of Whitewater, WI (1hr from Madison or Milwaukee and 2hrs from Chicago) that offer loops ranging from beginner/easy to difficult, with ups and downs to challenge experienced mountain bikers. Both feature rough, natural, single-track trails and stunning surroundings that take you out of “real life” momentarily and plop you right into the peace and calm of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

The John Muir Trail system on Hwy H north of the Town of La Grange and Hwy 12, is the most popular in this region.

It offers six loops ranging from 1.25mi to 12mi. The beginner/easy 1.25mi loop welcomes cyclists with a tunnel of pines opening into a forest of them.

The other five loops take you through pine, oak, and rocky/sandy terrain.

You can take a leisure ride or give yourself a challenge. If you choose the challenge, practice on the Skills Course woven throughout the impressive oaks near the entrance to give you a taste of what you’ll experience on the difficult trails.

And when you’ve completed your ride, pop into LaGrange General Store and Backyard Bikes 4min down the road for something cold to drink and a good sandwich.

Photo of the store from Backyard Bike’s Facebook page.

The Emma Carlin Trail system on Hwy Z south of Hwy 59, not only offers a pleasurable, winding drive through the Kettle Moraine to the park, but its three moderate to difficult loops take cyclists through much of what the Kettle Moraine offers- pines, hardwoods, lowlands, moraine, and all the hills you could ever hope for.

These trails range from 3.5mi to 8mi and are often less used/populated than the John Muir Trails.

The best part of both trail systems? You feel like you’re alone (for the most part) and only hear the birds in the trees and your tires on the ground.


John Muir Trail Info:
N9097 County Road H – Whitewater, WI 53190
262-594-6200
Park hours: 6a-11p

Emma Carlin Trail Info:
County Rd Z – Palmyra, WI 53156
262-594-6200
Park hours: 6a-11p