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.