Mountain biking "up nort" in Wisconsin is serious business. Before visiting, I thought that there would be some quaint trail systems that were fun to poke around but I was not ready for what I encountered
Normally I'm a meticulous researcher when it comes to mountain biking. In this case the discovery of the Raven Trail was serendipitous. I was on my way to the famous Copper Harbor Trails of the Upper Peninsula but had forgotten my helmet! Fortunately, there was a great bike shop in Eagle River that illuminated the mountain biking opportunities of the area. After talking with a few of the shop people and some folks that happened to be there, it was clear that the Raven Trail could not be missed by anyone claiming to be a serious mountain biker. I took the detour and was glad I did!
The Raven Trail is just outside of Minocqua-Woodruff. This area is a hotspot for Wisconsinites and Midwesterners for essentially everything outdoors. Minocqua, Rhinelander, Eagle River and Three Lakes are etched into the memories of many a family, especially those who’ve grown up in the state. I regretted that I couldn’t spend more time up here.
The trailhead for the Raven Trail is well marked and not far off Highway 47. In the summer, the parking lot is likely full of bikers and in the winter I’m sure it’s all snowmobilers and cross country skiers. The trails are laid out like a typical mountain biking system; there are numerous loops of varying difficulties and it is easy to combine them all into a day’s trip. I biked the red loop which is considered difficult but the blue (intermediate) and green (easy) trails were just as fun.
I would describe the red trail as rolling and steep at times but not too technical. It ends up being a lovely ride through the woods for that reason. There are also fantastic views of Clear Lake and a seemingly uninterrupted wilderness. Riding in the morning of a weekday, I encountered no other riders.
The blue and green loops had a mix of wide dirt sections and paved roads. Nevertheless, the tenor of both trails was serene and relaxing. I found the blue trail was about the same level of difficulty as the green trail.
It’s a fine trail system that shouldn’t be missed by somebody looking for a relaxing ride that will get your pulse up from time to time. Hardcore riding devotees may find the trail lacking in features but I appreciated the views and quietude. Thankfully, it’s not the only trail system in the area and I’m sure I’ll be returning!