Perrot State Park
Perrot State Park has an interesting history, both in terms of how it formed naturally and of the people who have called it home. The formations found here had their beginnings under water. The sandstone bluffs throughout the park were formed when this area was the floor of an ancient sea, piling sand and mud on top of itself until under its own weight the mixture was crushed into stone, forming the bluffs we ride on today. After the sea receded, glaciers moved through, shearing the tops off the bluffs and, amazingly, rerouting the Mississippi from one side of the park to the other. The park’s human history goes back over 7,000 years, starting with the Archaic Indians that passed through here on their way to various hunting grounds. Many other tribes have utilized this area as well, building effigy mounds that are still visible today. In the late 1600s, the French fur trade brought Indians and French together here, one group collecting the furs, the other reaping the rewards. During his travels, French explorer Nicholas Perrot spent the winter in the area in 1685 and, 45 years later, the French established a permanent fort here. The trail system lies in the center of the park surrounding the 500-foot-high Perrot Ridge. The trail entirely encircles the ridge and offers grand views of the Mississippi below, with boats bustling on its waterways and Burlington Northern trains moving along its shore. The off-road trail covers a wide path of grass and at times hard-packed soil. Because of the nature of the terrain, climbing is common, in some cases over rather extended routes. In comparison with other parks, Perrot puts mountain bikers right at the heart of the park’s true splendor, instead of pushed off to a remote edge. The scenery is beautiful throughout, with the trail cutting through thick forests and occasionally breaking out into meadows of waist-high grass. The Mississippi is visible near the end of the ride as the trail sweeps around the southern edge of Perrot Ridge. All in all, the riding is excellent for those not as interested in technical terrain as in exploring the park’s beauty. Benches are set up at a couple of the more scenic meadows, allowing for a few minutes of stretching and relaxation during the ride. The entire loop will take an hour to an hour and a half for intermediate riders. Make certain to apply bug spray, as the surrounding waters are ample breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Elevation Change: Nothing in this section of Wisconsin is flat. At best the hills are rolling; at worst they are monstrously steep and long. The trailhead, on the low ground, is 250 feet below the highest ridge bikers pass over. Most of the climbs cover heights of approximately 60 feet, with two logging in around 175 and 200 feet.
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Trail Statistics & Information
|Skill Level||Technical Difficulty: moderate. Aerobic Level: Strenuous.|
|Season||Trails are open from April 15 to November 15. However, erosion is a concern, and often after heavy rains or in the early part of the season when snow runoff is still affecting topsoil, the trails will be closed. It is a good idea to call ahead and check on the conditions of the trail.|
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