I’m stoked to share with you the awesomeness of the White River State Trail!
If you’re a history buff, this trail just north of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin was built on an old passenger train line. This makes for a smooth even gravel path that is pure countryside scenery with old local farm houses and rolling hills. You can try and imagine this as the glaciated landscape that covered most of southern Wisconsin at one time. You’ll get your share of woodlands, farmers fields, creeks, and parts of its namesake, the White River. The path runs between 11 and 19 miles in length, depending if you take the extended route to Kansasville.
In the 1850’s, when the Chicago & Northwestern railroad started carrying the wealthier classes from Chicago to their recently found resort area, Lake Geneva; the Chicago & Milwaukee Railroad (commonly known as Milwaukee Road) began carrying passengers into Southeastern Wisconsin from just south of Milwaukee. This helped push the population of Walworth county where Lake Geneva resides.
One person connected to this train was John W. Jones, known as “Jack,” from Lexington, Virginia, and born in 1893. He served in World War I where he became a Corporal. One of his first jobs after him and his wife Etta, moved to Milwaukee in the 1920’s, was a dining car porter for the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad. Etta Jones, sang soprano for several clubs and church groups in the Milwuakee area, and did a recorded solo in Janesville, WI.
Jack eventually found himself doing dental laboratory work and in the 1940’s he opened up his own business, the Jones Dental Laboratory, where he provided dentists with dentures and orthopedic products. Through a photo album that they had kept from the ’20’s – ’60’s, much of their life as a black middle class family is preserved by the Milwaukee County Historical Society (MCHS). A recent article, by the Milwaukee Independent shares a more expansive look into their life and impact.
Pedal & Cup
Smack dab in the middle of the White River State Trail, where the former MILW depot stood, is the coffee shop Pedal & Cup. Recently took over by the Monge family, you’ll find a historical landmark that rents bikes, supports local artists, has their own coffee blend developed by a local roaster, Blended House Coffee and serves a delicious scoop of Milwaukee’s Purple Door Ice Cream.
Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Melissa Monge!
The Trail Insights
To give you visuals of the trail for those that like them, I’ve created a few videos.
The first one relays the beginning trailhead in Elkhorn off of Highway H. If you google Westenn Corporation in Elkhorn, WI, you can find the start of the trail head right across the street. There is another less frequented trailhead off of NN that is closer to Lake Geneva and it shaves about three miles while putting you in a shorter distance to Pedal & Cup. From NN to Pedal & Cup, it’s a short 3.3 mile distance. So if you’re looking for an under 6 mile route, this would be an ideal place to start and then head back with them as a nice midway point. That’s what I did my first time and it was a perfect way to get to know the lay of the land.
The second video reviews the fact that you do need a Wisconsin State Trail Pass for the ride. They are $25 for the calendar year. More frequented locations like Kettle Moraine have a more robust enforcement program going, so if you’re up for one day you could take a chance, or you can be legit and just support the trail system.
The third video is just me riding the trails and trying to get better at creating an entertaining video. Be kind, I’m learning.
Good Vibes to you all!
Let’s enjoy life and get out there (safely).