Sparta, Wisconsin

Sparta Wisconsin is about halfway between the Greater LaCrosse area and Tomah, Wisconsin, just off of I-90.  With its proximity to Fort McCoy, Sparta, a town of over 8,000 residents, is able to thrive as a busy small community independently.  Sparta is the county seat of Monroe County, nestled in the beautiful rolling hills of western Wisconsin. Once known for the healing powers of the local artesian springs, Sparta is now most recognized as the junction of the Elroy-Sparta and La Crosse River bike trails. Sparta's claim as the "Bicycling Capital of America" is based upon the first rail bed in Wisconsin to be converted to bike trails between Sparta and Elroy.

Visit the City of Sparta Website

Downtown Sparta

Downtown Sparta has a nice shopping district.  There are many small "mom and pop" type specialty stores to choose from.  A few larger retail stores are also established on the northwest end of Sparta.  Sparta also has a newer aquatic park, and is just adjacent to Fort McCoy ARMY training camp.
Sparta is home to the Deke Slayton Space and Bike Museum.  Slayton, an Astronaut with NASA, has a storied career and a Sparta Native.  The museum is a must see.

Sparta-Elroy Bike Trail

The Grandaddy of them all, The Elroy Sparta Trail.  The trail remains one of the most popular trails in the country.  With three rock tunnels and five small towns along it's 32.5 mile route, the trail is a favorite Wisconsin bicycling destination. Traveling between Sparta and Elroy, the trail stretches through the communities of Norwalk, Wilton and Kendall. The Elroy Sparta Trail is the property of the State of Wisconsin and is part of it's State Trails System run by the Department of Natural Resources and supported by the Friends of the Elroy Sparta Trail.  It is located in Hidden Valleys Country and passes through a portion of the unglaciated areas of Wisconsin exemplifying the natural beauty of our State.  Part of the "Bike4Trails" it connects to 101 miles of trails.  

The trail is 32 miles in length on the abandoned Chicago & North Western Railroad bed and passes through three rock tunnels.  The three century-old railroad tunnels hightlight the trail. The Kendall and Wilton tunnels are 1/4 mile long and the Norwalk tunnel is just over 3/4 mile long.  The tunnels are dark and cool, even on the brightest days, and water from springs above the tunnels can trickle onto the trail.  Bikers should walk bikes through the tunnels. The Trail is covered with limestone screenings and provides a smooth riding surface.  The bridges are covered with planks and are guarded with railings.