Brinks Road NF 236 • 40 miles:
For this ride you may want to obtain Bayfield County Highway map, free from the bike shop or from the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce. The route will take the peloton through 25 miles of the Chequamegon National Forest on a little or no traveled, newly paved road. It passes several lost lakes (maybe for a short dip?) and continues up to the Moquah Barrens, a wild area preserved to demonstrate the barren, scrubby ecology that is the natural course of the high peninsula.
From Washburn (12 miles S of Bayfield on highway #13) take Co. highway C north about 10 miles to Valhalla ski trail head. After the Valhalla entrance climb the hill and look sharp for a left hand turn on the only paved road available. It’s about 1.5 miles beyond Valhalla and signed with “NF 236” to Ino and Highway #2. If you’ve driven in your car to this point, you’ll find a little pull-off to park on. The route begins here and gently rolls south some 22 miles south and west to highway #2 at the Ino Bar. With the county map you can find your way back to Washburn by using some of the same county highways that are used for the Superior Vistas Bike Tour held each June. Other- wise, simply turn around and return on #236. I guarantee you’ll not be disappointed.
LITTLE SAND BAY LOOP 27 milesOne of the most preferred outings among Bayfield cyclists takes riders north to the National Park headquarters at the tip of the peninsula and lops back through the orchards with a ripping descent back to town.Follow highway #13 north to Red Cliff. Stay on past the marina and casino watching for signs indicating County Highway K to Little Sand Bay/Nat’l. Park Hdq. Co.K turns right at the Town of Russell Garage.
In the parking lot there’s a tiny shelter with a public well within. If you need to, water up with some more of the pristine beverage available on the peninsula. Follow Co. K for about 5 miles. There are some terrific views of the lake off through the trees and at about the 4-mile mark you may want to pull over to visit Waters Edge Nursery and Garden the interesting permaculture commune operating here.
Little Sand Bay Road is a right; clearly marked you will take it, slowly descending 3 miles to the very tip of the peninsula, as far out into the islands as the mainland will permit. It’s a great place to rest, water, swim, beach comb, boat and island watch, or visit the Park Headquarters interpretive display and commercial fishing museum.
To resume the ride you’ll deadhead back the way you came to Co. highway K. At the T go left and begin the gradual but persistent climb to the height of land at the Town of Russell Community Building. A long straight descent ends at State Highway #13 where you will go left.
Up here at the tip of the peninsula, traffic is almost non-existent but be alert and stay to the right. Continue on #13 for about 2.5 miles and look for Turner road that goes right. It’s at a crossroads with Peterson Hill Road (gravel) that goes left. You will roll on Turner for about 1.5 miles and arrive at a T on County Highway J. If you go right you’ll do some climbing up through the orchards (see Orchard Loop description). Take a left on J to begin the famous 3.5 mile descent to Bayfield. Co. highway J ends at Highway #13 and you’ll go right for a mile or so down to town; enjoying the view all the way.
Click HERE to view a printable map.
Anyone, young or old who wants to appreciate Bayfield: lake and orchard will certainly want to take the Brownstone/Hatchery/Blue Vista ride. It is about 6-7 miles long and almost all flat or downhill. (Of course there’s a mile and a half of good climbing through beautiful, mixed hardwoods in order to earn the descent.)
The ride starts immediately in front of the bike shop. A tiny kiosk (look for the hanging petunia basket) in the middle of the lumber company’s yard shows the way. This is the Brownstone Trail, Bayfield’s only public access to the lakeshore. The well marked, self -propelled trail follows 2.6 miles of an old railroad bed that used to run from north of Bayfield all the way to Washburn. Thanks to the Bayfield Regional Conservancy that wrestled furiously for years to create this wonderful trail, we now are able to walk, jog, ski and bike along the edge of the sandstone cliffs overlooking the lake from town to Port Superior marina in Salmo Bay.
Ride the trail (follow the signs) all the way through to Port Superior Marina. Once there, check out the beautiful sailing yachts and the “marina life” then, look past the tennis courts for the entrance road leading out (100 yards) to Hiway # 13. Cross the hiway (careful! It’s not a commercial road but look both ways) and go left, stay on the wide shoulder, down the hill about 200 yards to Hatchery Road, a right turn. This is your uphill for about 1.5 miles. Before you turn on Hatchery Road to tackle this terrific climb, you may want to continue just a little farther on Hiway #13, over Pike’s Creek (narrow bridge!!) to the Les Voigt State Fish Hatchery. Tours are offered throughout this historic brownstone facility and no one, (especially the children) can resist leaning over the tanks and ponds of different sized fish in constant choreographed motion, gazing for a spellbound interlude. It’s worth the diversion!
Re-cross Pike’s Creek and take Hatchery Road up the hill. It’s a good climb. Don’t be afraid to dismount and walk; you can see more wildlife. At the top you find yourself at Four Corners. Straight ahead and to the right lies Co. Road J, to the left is Star Route. You want to turn right. You’ll see Blue Vista farm immediately on your right.
The farm is open to the public every day except Tuesdays and it must be visited. Fruits, flowers, vegetables and a magnificent view of the entire Chequamegon Bay await you and you’ll want to linger in the flower garden and soak it all in.
When you return out to Co. J, a breathtaking descent awaits you back down to Bayfield. If you should want another adventure, look for the sign to the golf course (a left) and make the steep winding climb up to the clubhouse and another famous view, this time of the Apostle Islands. At the bottom of Co. J you will turn left and ride the shoulder of Highway #13, ½ mile to town. You may want to this ride every day of your visit!
Star Route road cuts across the peninsula East-West from Bayfield to Cornucopia. Much of it follows the old Stage Coach road from the turn of the century. Its rolling hills with a height of land at Echo Valley crossroads will make for a serious workout. Almost all of it passes though Bayfield county forestland and I’ve heard experienced riders call it “ the finest ride in northern Wisconsin” for challenge, variety and forest scenery. Mostly, the ride is an “out-and-back”, but with hybrid tires, riders can negotiate the 3 miles of gravel in the middle of the ride and go all the way to Cornucopia and from there loop back to Bayfield on highway #13.The paved ride ends at the Belanger Settlement, a little known community with strong ties to the Red Cliff band.
Depart Bayfield pedaling south on highway #13 toward Washburn. One half mile out of town look for County highway J to the right, climbing steadily to a four-way stop. At this crossroads a left descends Hatchery Road. A right goes north on J and then valley Road. You want to continue straight ahead and for the next 9 miles enjoy the rolling hills, (some of them are substantial climbs) and graceful curves through Lake Superior boreal forest. Gravel roads will depart to left and right and if you’re riding wider tires or a mountain bike you will sure be tempted to explore. At the 5-mile mark or so you’ll pass through a beautiful stand of mature maples, psychedelic in the autumn. Pull in the turn off on your left to take it all in.
At 8.5 miles riders will peer down a steep hill into the Belanger settlement, at its center the little white St. Anthony’s church, now a community center. The pavement continues for another mile or so (you can see ahead where it turns to gravel) and you have the choice of a roaring descent and then the return climb or turning around here for the return trip at the brink of this hill. Star Route is so hilly, curving and diverse that riding this way in reverse seems like a completely different road.