This IMBA Epic is one of the longest skinny-trail routes in the Upper Midwest. It's mostly singletrack, with just a handful of wider sections and brief doubletrack interludes.
A variety of features will task hard-charging experienced riders who tackle the ride, while intermediate riders can back off the pace to revel in the route.
Parking at the Rock Lake trailhead is approximately 7 miles east of Cable and requires a daily fee.
The trail system is fairly easy to navigate with each intersection labeled with a letter-number combination.
Be sure to stop at the Rivers Eatery after the ride for great pizza and tasty beverages!
The Rock Lake Epic starts at the Rock Lake trailhead. The route travels in a counterclockwise direction and includes the Rock Lake Trail
, Patsy Lake
Despite the remoteness of this trail, there is excellent signage and maps can be found at most of the major intersections. If navigating by intersections, follow this order (all labels begin with N): Rock Lake trailhead,7,5,8,4,29,11,31,32,22,13,14,9,23,15,16,17,18,34,30, Namakagon/Town Hall trailhead,1,2,32,31,3,6,Rock Lake trailhead.
Begin the Rock Lake Trail
behind the trailhead kiosk; avoid the ski trail to the left. The trail is quite easy in the beginning with only an occasional rock. A few rocky descents will be encountered on the way to N5, all of which are easily navigated, especially if you have front or full suspension. The trail is then pretty tame until the start of the Hildebrand Lake Loop at N4.
Hildebrand Lake Loop is at the southwestern end of the Rock Lake trail and begins with a small loose rock ride-over. This was intended to be a filter for riders to know what to expect through this more difficult part of the loop. Riders can expect many drops, steps, rock gardens, dips, and the 103-foot long, 18-inch wide No Hands Bridge over a stream at the end of Hildebrand Lake with an optional skinner 6" line. The penalty for failure is a dip into the lake. This location is perhaps one of the most remote areas in the state of Wisconsin, featuring mature hardwoods and striking glacial terrain.
After Hildebrand from N29 to the turnoff at N31, the trail is considerably more technical and difficult. Riders will come to Wall Street - a steep, downhill, rock causeway. The penalty for failure here is... higher, though it's actually not too difficult as long as you remain relaxed and loose while riding over the rocks. Afterwards, the technical features transition to steep climbs and descents.
Turning right at N31 takes you to the Namakagon
Trail and a stretch of easier, non-technical riding. It's a welcome transition and a nice way to connect to the Patsy Lake
Continue through intersection N22 to N14 to onto the Patsy Lake
trail, which features bogs, wandering singletrack, interesting bridges and rolling hills. The trail is easy riding and meandering. You'll encounter three bridges between N14 and N15.
You'll find recently constructed, sweet flowing singletrack from intersection N15 to N30. Beyond that to the trailhead, the trail continues to be easy with the exception of one steep side hill which some riders may find challenging.
After making a hard left at the Namakagon/Town Hall trailhead, be prepared for a climb. After reaching the top, the trail is much less difficult and continues on a combination of mellow singletrack and overgrown doubletrack forest roads with short alternate segments of technical singletrack.
The section of Namakagon
from N1 to N2 is a bit more technical. Bear right at N2 to continue the Epic route back N32 where a right takes you quickly back to the home stretch of Rock Lake Trail
Saving the best (and hardest) for last, riders will finish the Rock Lake Trail
. Be prepared for a very difficult section that throws everything at you: steep side-hills, large rocks, and tight passages through trees, rock gardens and dips.
The Epic route ends where you started, the Rock Lake trailhead.
Created and cared for by the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA), the Rock Lake Epic exemplifies the diversity of riding available on the extensive trail network that CAMBA maintains.