Ride CAMBA: Miles of Flowy Trails in Northern Wisconsin

Pedal miles and miles of fantastic flowy singletrack through the Wisconsin Northwoods in CAMBA's expansive trail system.

Greg Heil

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Description

Nobody journeys to the Wisconsin Northwoods on accident. When you leave the closest metropolitan areas of Minneapolis, Madison, Milwaukee, or Chicago, you'll need to buckle up and prepare for a long day of driving. As you trek northward, you'll slowly leave the city behind, and the view will change to Wisconsin's bucolic farmland. But after a few hours, the landscape will gradually change from the pastoral to the wild. Eventually, you'll find yourself traveling through vast, rolling forests that stretch endlessly in every direction, interrupted only by the countless lakes that dot the region. "Ahh!" Now you've finally reached the Northwoods!

Recreation in Northern Wisconsin has long been dominated by hunting, fishing, and motorsports such as snowmobiling and ATVing. However, beneath the vast canopy of the Chequamegon National Forest, a bastion of human-powered recreation has quietly been growing into a force to be reckoned with. Cross country skiing in the winter gives way to mountain biking in the summer, with the singletrack bike trails now renowned as one of the most dramatic economic forces in the region. This expansive mountain bike trail system is known collectively as the CAMBA Trails, taken from the name of the local mountain bike advocacy organization: the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA).

The CAMBA Trails easily rank as one of the most expansive mountain bike trail systems in the Midwestern USA. CAMBA maintains over 130 miles of singletrack mountain bike trails, over 200 miles of mapped gravel routes, 13 different trailheads, and grooms 70 miles of fat bike trails. Never willing to rest on their laurels, CAMBA continues to retrofit historic trails with modern trail building techniques, as well as building brand-new trail systems across the region.

The core of the trail system, where the oldest trails are located, lies between the towns of Hayward, Seeley, and Cable. Unlike most trail systems in the Midwest that consist of short, tightly-wound loops of singletrack, the classic CAMBA trails offer long-distance singletrack trails that can be used for long point-to-point rides, lengthy loops deep in the national forest, or both. While the classic singletrack here has long had a reputation as rocky, rooty, and challenging, newly-built sections like Gravity Cavity and Dirt Candy offer top-notch flow trail sections packed with bike-specific features like berms and jumps.

In fact, when it comes to Midwestern trail advocacy groups, CAMBA leads the charge of employing professional trail building organizations to construct singletrack to the highest possible standards. CAMBA is also a highly professional organization, with several full-time paid employees along with a board of directors and an active volunteer base.

As CAMBA helps push forward professional trail building in the Midwest, they've even tackled ambitious challenges such as building an entirely new trail system essentially from scratch. Known as "Mount Ashwabay," these new trails might be located further afield from the heart of the Chequamegon National Forest, but the newly-built trails are quickly gaining a reputation as some of the best bike-optimized singletrack in the Upper Midwest.

In this guidebook, you'll find a bevy of route recommendations in the CAMBA trail system ranging from short to long and from easy to advanced. All that's left is to pick a couple of routes that sound good to you, put in your vacation request, and hit the road to the Northwoods!

Adventures

Mount Ashwabay

Arguably the highest quality mountain bike trails in Wisconsin, if not the entire Midwest.

Dirt Candy

One of CAMBA's most feature-rich trails.