On the Web:
Cronies Trail Crew Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cronies-Trail-Crew/144889299928
MTB page: http://www.mtbproject.com/trail/4235929
Hartman Creek State Park: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/hartman/
Every so often, I allow myself to venture out of the confines of The Levis Mound Trail to visit other singletrack. As the sport of fatbiking continues to spread, new riding opportunities are popping up all over and trail builders incorporating snow grooming to meet those needs.
Hartman State Park near Waupaca is under the radar in the mountain bike community, which is a shame, because the Cronies Trail Crew, who design and trail build there, has done an exceptional job.
Now with the influx of fatbikes, they have taken on the challenge of winter biking.
Friend Scott Cole at the nearby Hostel Shoppe in Stevens Point, tipped me off to the winter riding opportunity there, 'forcing' me to visit. Winter use at the park allows fatbikes on packed snowshoe trail and singletrack, the former snowmobile groomed. Very recently, the park agreed to allow machine grooming of the singletrack as well. Until this point, snowshoes alone were the 'grooming' method of choice-an arduous task at best with many miles to prepare. As many trail systems have discovered, if you want to ride a lot of varied trails and you have deep snow, machine grooming is the only realistic way to go.
Arriving early, before the high March sun would start to soften things (as later riders discovered), a park ranger pointed me to a trailhead off Windfelt Lane within the park.
The packed snowshoe trails get a lot of use from hikers and SS'ers, so the surface can be somewhat rough, but it's a small price to pay on a shared trail. Well signed 'you are here' intersections made getting lost nearly impossible, plus the fact that I needed to stay on anything rideable. The SS trails were hard and fast but I really needed to give the really narrow singletrack a try. It was more like a trials ride, staying in the center and concentrating on keeping my pedals from the snowbanks and wheels in the center. It was a lot of fun.
Some of the less used singletrack was too soft, for I'd been the only one recently putting fat tires down on the trail. Of course, after doing some loops I discovered the 'Singletrack Trailhead' figuring out I'd started my ride from the wrong parking lot.
Keeping the ride simple and fun, I jumped onto a snowmobile trail that runs through the park (I think it was legal-bike and hike signs pointed that way) for some fast prairie riding. I was dumped out near a horse trail parking area (probably where I should have started?) and other hiking and classical ski trails. The SS trail continued between a couple lakes and returned me to the main park entrance. Nice easy riding through tall pines and I had my bearings again.
As the Cronies Trail Crew experiment with what works for them on their trails, I'm sure the old adage “If you build it-they will come,” will hold very true. Hartman is a beautiful park, with varied terrain, remnants of the Ice age (the Ice Age Trail does run through the park) to give riders a unique experience. I know I'll be back in the summer ... and winter!
Read more posts from Steve Meurett.
Steve Meurett lives, works and plays in West Central Wisconsin and spends about every free moment outdoors where his passions lie. His outdoor interests take him on and off trail, pursuing mountain biking and skinny skiing, photography and hunting, while keeping an eye on wild mushrooms and the next fruit for craft wine. Steve is the Trail Director at The Levis Mound Trail System and member of the Clark County Trails Advisory Committee. He resides, teaches and is a photographer in Neillsville. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.