“A great introduction to all that mountain biking has to offer!”
— Todd Richardson
Easy, wide, and offers a lot of different terrain to keep the kids interested. Some of the grassy open areas might be a greater challenge but the woods are great.
High Cliff is a beautiful state park park along the Niagara Escarpment and Lake Winnebago with a wide variety of features. The trails are fast, easy, and well kept. The trails are multi-purpose, built for horses and skiers but there is great singletrack through the woods and wide grassy doubletrack for catching up with your riding buddies (always give horses the right-of-way). The views from the Red Bird Trail
near the statue of Chief Red Bird are fantastic and a trip up the observation tower is a must.
Need to Know
Daily parking pass required.
This ride combines elements of all four loops available at High Cliff. It starts at a parking lot on the north end of the park and drops into the North Trail System
loop. Watch for signs in the "Forest Management" area as there are trails in the woods off limits to bikes. The northern loop ends near the same parking lot but follow the paths west along the large pavilion and observation tower to the trailhead of the Red Bird Trail
Past the statue of Chief Red Bird starts a rocky passage with a couple of steep dives and a large limestone flat. Stay left through the flats to avoid a natural staircase that will ground inexperienced riders. A couple of steep rocky climbs lead to another great lookout over Lake Winnebago. The Red Bird Trail
then meanders for a couple of miles through the woods to an Access Trail
and the southern loops. These are marked for navigating in a clockwise direction.
This ride completes the Overlook Trail
but only half of the Woodland Trail
and Open Field Trail
. There is no way to hit all the loops without overlap. The ride follows the South Trail System Access
connector from the southern loops back to the northern parking lots. The connecting trail is mostly doubletrack and grassy.
There are unmarked areas throughout the park where more experienced riders can find some classic singletrack with large roots and rocks. Be aware of the cliff edge though as the name High Cliff didn't come out of nowhere. Grab a park map and note which marked trails are available to bikes and which aren't.
*For an added challenge, park by the beach at the bottom of the escarpment and bike up along the road. "The Hill" is a daunting climb but riding it back down is a great exclamation point on the completed ride before grabbing some brews at the beach.
History & Background
The trails at High Cliff are multi-purpose trails that were designed for horseback riding and cross-country skiing. Watch for horses and always give them the right-of-way.