For the vast majority of its 250-mile route, the Wisconsin Great River Road follows Highway 35, a well-traveled roadway. Most experienced touring bicyclists will be quite capable of traveling its entire length and coping with its truck and automobile traffic.
However, for less experienced cyclists, two sections with lower traffic volumes and five-foot paved shoulders offer a more relaxing bicycling experience. Those sections are a 32-mile stretch from Nelson to Hager City and a 27-mile stretch from Lynxville to Genoa.
Northern Section — Nelson to Hager City
This 38-mile route northern links six pleasant river towns – Nelson, Pepin, Stockholm, Maiden Rock, Bay City and Hagar City. Nelson is famous for its ice cream parlor and cheese factory, as well as the Tiffany Bottoms, a 12,000-acre wildlife refuge that’s a prime breeding and migratory bird habitat. Pepin is the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the “Little House” books. Stockholm boasts a vibrant artisan community – its Main Street is a wonderful mix of cafes, gift shops, galleries and antiques. Maiden Rock is named for the bluff above the city. It is the home of one of the state’s largest berry farms and apple orchards. Bay City, at the north end of Lake Pepin, is a popular stop for eagle watching, picnicking and fishing.
Southern Section — Lynxville to Genoa
This shouldered section of Hwy 35 links Lynxville, Ferryville, De Soto, Victory and Genoa. At Lynxville you can watch barges come through Lock & Dam #9. Ferryville, built on a narrow ledge between the river and the bluffs, is the longest one-street village in the world. Three miles north of De Soto, Blackhawk Park is a 225-site, full-service campground operated by the Army Corps of Engineers on an island in the Mississippi. Genoa is the home of Lock & Dam #8, and Clement’s Fishing Barge, the oldest floating fishing platform on the river.
Opportunities Along the Wisconsin Great River Road
East of the river, many quiet country roads make excellent on-road bicycling forays. Roads run up over the bluffs, through quiet valleys and along wetlands and rivers. Picturesque farms and interesting sights await the adventurous rider. The Wisconsin Great River Road Bicycling Maps include connections from the Wisconsin Great River Road to some of the best country roads.