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Levis and Trow Mounds (referred to as “Levis Mounds” or simply “Levis” by locals) could quite possibly be one of the first trail systems in the world built by mountain bikers, for mountain bikers.
While most other historic trail networks began life as hiking trails that cyclists began to explore on improvised offroad bicycles, the first singletrack at Levis Mounds was constructed by mountain bikers in the mid ‘80s shortly after the Specialized Rockhopper was released.
Since those early beginnings, the singletrack network at Levis has continued to grow and change, developing into a roughly 25-mile trail system that not only functions as a local hotspot, but also as one of the premiere mountain biking destinations in the Midwestern USA.
Perusing the Levis parking lot will reveal license plates from all over the nation.
Whether it’s mountain bikers making the pilgrimage from the nearby population centers of the Twin Cities in Minnesota or Chicago in Illinois, or riders from far-flung corners of the nation stopping through in the middle of a road trip, the name “Levis” is well-established in the mountain biking lexicon. Levis is renowned for its tight, technical, old school singletrack.
Even the newest trails at Levis have been built by volunteers laboring with hand tools, providing a tight, twisty, techy vibe that permeates all of the trails—from beginner to expert. The Front Mounds at Levis are home to the tightest, steepest, most technical trails.
While you’ll only find a few hundred feet of climbing before reaching the top of the mounds, after a few climbs and descents of the steep, densely-wooded hillsides you’ll quickly rack up some significant elevation gain… for central Wisconsin. The trails here climb up and over chunky sandstone rocks, exposed roots, and hug the tops of low sandstone cliffs.
The views from the top of the mound are camera-worthy, and the tight bench cut descents—while distinctly pedally—will entertain even advanced-level riders.
Due to the tightly-wound trails on the Front Mounds, it can be difficult to discern the best route combination.
I recommend this route: Upper Glen -> Porky Point -> Dump Trail -> North Face -> Corkscrew -> Toad Road -> Top of Mounds -> Cliffhanger -> Switchback -> Toad Road -> North Face -> Dump Trail. If even a few laps of the Front Mounds in this recommended combination aren’t enough to satisfy, add in the Long Loop route for some more mileage.