elroy to sparta bike trail

every year my sweet friend “b” and i choose one thing that pushes us physically. in 2015, we completed the warrior dash. in 2016, we ran a 1/2 marathon.  in 2017, we choose to pedal the 32.5 mile route from elroy, wi to sparta, wi and back again. check out what’s in store for this year here.

preparing for this endeavor. practice pedals.

okay this is where I have to be honest.  just weeks, literally, prior to our trip…i didn’t own my own bike. of note, you do need a bike to pedal the trail. 😉 i don’t recommend this, however know that it can be done.

we did get together on multiple occasions to do practice “runs” but, because b and i live in neighboring communities it wasn’t always easy to get together.  we would often encourage each other via a phone call or text. find someone who pushes you to be stronger. being the competitive person that i am, those phone calls often made me pedal one more mile than her, just to prove i could. b, i’m not sure whether to say sorry or thank you. bahahaha!

old plank trail is an asphalt trail beginning in the city of sheboygan and stretches west roughly 17 miles to  greenbush, wi.  the trail terrain varies from flat to rolling with a few seemingly larger descents or climbs depending on the direction you are headed (and the miles you have already put in!) we took old plank trail from the entrance of the sheboygan falls trailhead to marshall’s express in plymouth and back to kohler. returning to the trailhead to round up our trip for the day, putting in a little more than 20 miles in no time.

adventure two began when we loaded up the bikes and headed 30 minutes north to jump on another trail for a few more “practice miles.” the start of this was very exciting as we were checking the air pressure in the tire and my tire tube broke… so we took a quick detour to get this fixed prior to even heading out.

rawley point trail is about 6 miles in length and connects to the mariners trail for an additional 6 miles.  absolutely stunning views in every direction. the trail surface is crushed stone, with an occasional plank bridge and dirt path. the trail end points include: sandy ridge dr. and sandy bay rd./county road o (two rivers) and point beach state park. be sure to stop at the pavilion at point beach state park and enjoy a refreshing ice cream cone and scenic views of lake michigan!

packing for an overnight bike trip.

the key here is not to over pack! whether you have a carrying rack on the back of you bike or you choose to wear a back pack, the lighter the better!

we ate breakfast both days prior to hitting the trail. so we only had to carry a few snacks for along the way to refuel. protein bars, beef jerky, energy gels & chews, trail mix, starburst, gum, & of course water were the main ingredients packed to get us from point a to b. additionally, you pass through 3 towns along the way so if necessary you can reload, but try to be as self sufficient as possible. once arriving in sparta there were plenty of options to eat for a sit down meal.

one of the most unique things about this trail was that we were able to refill our water bottle at a hand pump well & we ate freshly harvested raspberries from a food stand that was paid by the honor system. so bring a little cash along the way as well, you never know what little deliciousness you will find along the way.

clothing may vary some dependent on the weather report. we were blessed with warm rays both days, but keep in mind it does get a bit cool in the tunnels and along fully shaded areas.


cycling shorts, tank top, sports bra, tank top, t-shirt, long sleeved base layer/or light jacket, socks, gloves (optional), ball cap, helmet (optional), underwear (not optional), flip flops or sandals, rain gear/poncho.

bike gear:

multi tool, replacement inner tube, air pump, air gauge, grease or chain lube, handlebar bag or frame bag, bike lock, & mirror.


flashlights are a must as those tunnels are DARK! be sure your bike also has reflectors/lights as well so you are visible to other bicyclists. pedometer/bike computer, phone, camera. one thing we didn’t bring that i seen others had was a speaker. perfect for a little jam session on the trail!

that’s it…well okay, one more thing…hairspray & mascara.

the elroy-sparta trail is part of the first rails to trails project in america. it runs along the abandoned chicago & north western railroad. it is regarded as one of the most popular biking trails in the country and when we see the beauty you will quickly understand why!

the trail has three rock tunnels and five small towns along it’s 32.5 mile route.  traveling between sparta & elroy, the trail stretches through the communities of norwalk, wilton and kendall on a crushed limestone path.

the trail may be entered at many locations along the way. depending on which direction you are coming from, jump on at the elroy commons in elroy, at the trail headquarters in kendall, the sparta chamber of commerce in sparta, or enter at wilton or norwalk on hwy 71. we accessed the trail at the elroy commons location.

trail passes are required for bikers 16 years of age and older. a daily trail pass is $5 and an annual pass is $25. these are good on any wisconsin state trail and we picked ours up here.

woodsy and scenic views throughout captivate your visual senses. the entrances to the tunnels were by far the most eye catching. trickling water gave way to the organic deep green moss climbing to the top of small rock walls as you entered the tunnels.

the kendall and wilton tunnels are 1/4 mile long and the norwalk tunnel is just over 3/4 mile long. upon entering the longest tunnel there is no daylight to be seen on the other end.  they are dark and cool, and feel initially refreshing as the springs above drip on you. nearing the end it can get a little colder even in mid-july (which may be the only truly hot month in wisconsin!)

bikers should walk bikes through the tunnels. yup. there are postings. nope, we initially did not follow those rules (surprised?). however, after the first tunnel we did understand the reasoning. the pathways are slick from the water and the smooth rock surfaces that you passing through on. additionally, there are people in front of, behind, and to the sides of you and in a very dark setting, it could become dangerous on bike. it is important to use good trail etiquette.

the trail provided endless accounts of wild life, deep wooded paths followed by bright clearings of curved landscape with brilliant blue skies. occasionally, there was a tree down providing an obstacle to maneuver around.  the path was quiet at times. conversations with friends being the only sound besides our bike tires combing through the crushed limestone beneath us. at the entrances of the tunnels and at the small city stops along the way there were friendly people in every direction. small conversation and encouragements were provided followed by high fives and a quick share of what’s ahead for our new found trail friends. some people were novice riders like us, others fully equipped for what seemed like a month of travel and overnight back packing adventures.

upon arriving to sparta my butt hurt!

we stayed at super 8 hotel which was about 1 mile off the trail. they housed our bikes in a shed out back, which was super convenient not to have to bring them into a shared hotel room.  we locked them up, grabbed a bite to eat at a local restaurant, close enough to walk to, because getting back on the bike to find dinner was the last thing any of us wanted to do.

on the ride home the next day i believe i was officially bruised in places no one should ever be bruised. it took at least two miles before i could even stay seated on the bike. and that’s when it hit me… i’m an amateur for sure!

…but great news! this trail is for both novice and experienced riders alike.

although i have not visited the trail in the winter, there is no charge for snowmobiling or hiking. i would imagine that this would be an incredible destination for snow shoeing as well.

have you visited the elroy-sparta trail?


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2017 bucket list

“When was the last time you did something for the first time?”


2017 was a whirlwind year for my family and me. 2016 was a year of hurt and division in our family, so with the new year upon us we fought hard for, healing, fun, and adventure TOGETHER. it was a year of restoration. we created an epic year of memories. the joy of last year’s bucket list was that each of us poured in our desires and hopes for new experiences.  we created our list and off we went!

2017’s bucket list in review:


¤ obtain my conceal & carry permit

after a year like 2016 learning to shoot accurately and safely carry a gun deserves to be first on the list! bahahahaha!…just call me “eagle eye”

¤ volunteer at Sheboygan County humane society

because I am convinced if we volunteer, Miss A won’t ask me every other day for a finger monkey, horse, and 15 additional dogs…


¤ volunteer at Amazing Grace Equine Sanctuary

another adventure for Miss A’s animal love/obsession!  i am certain she is an animal whisperer.


¤ Mexico trip

back to Mexico with the best of friends celebrating marriage. oh how I miss the sunshine this time of year.


¤ target scavenger hunt

one hour, one list, a picture for proof!

¤ Elroy to Sparta bike trail

set fitness goals, find a friend (or two, or three)  who has those similar aspirations to physically challenge themselves, and then ride… read more.

¤ home improvements

before  &  after (almost complete, ha who am I kidding…the list is long!)

¤ visit Olivu

because what girl doesn’t need to make her own chemical free lipstick, body spray and nail polish?

¤ grow a pineapple plant

this was started from a store-bought pineapple. i’m positive that in about 5 years i might actually have a pineapple! slow but sure.


¤ 5k with kids

color run 5k in Minnesota! what a blast!


¤ visit and camp at Devils Lake


had the awesome opportunity to visit devil’s lake twice this year. once with the fam and again for weekend camping trip with B


¤ Try a new sport Miss A

floor hockey it is…

verdict- she will leave hockey with her brother and she is going to “stick” (see what I did there) with dance.


¤ Gurnee Mills shopping

just because I had never been


¤ Mall of America

gurnee was good, but the mall of america was great! a must do at least once in a lifetime (two shopping trips back to back, thus the reason 2018 is a year of minimizing and saving! 😉 )


¤ wine & canvas


¤ try a new food


¤ visit an island

we had the awesome privilege to visit and enjoy the 4th of July weekend with friends on their newly purchased island. honestly, how many people can say they own an island?! (this, of course has now been added to my lifetime bucket list)


¤ try a new restaurant


¤ weekend get-a-way up north with the folks

an escape in the north woods. fire, four wheeling, and food.


¤ buy a sewing machine

this was for Miss A- future fashion designer, but i’ve promised myself that i too will learn!


¤ Missouri trip


visiting the grandparents – 4 generations together for the week! zip-lining, golfing, zoo trips and escape rooms… oh and bass pro!  gotta love a bass pro shop trip!

¤ kayaking adventure

tranquil river ride until you get half way down the river and forget the keys to the vehicle you are headed to! dang it!

¤ host Halloween costume party

#heismexican #iamthepinata


¤ go gray

because life is too short not to have a little fun with color!

(sorry ladies… he’s mine)


¤ smell the flowers at a lavender farm

simply peaceful


¤ niko’s first packer game

nothing like experiencing la-la-la-lambeau.

¤ pick pumpkins @ little farmer pumpkin farm

an amazing fall day enjoying the home cooked goodies and picking the best pumpkins around!

¤ girls weekend 2017

first stay at an air b n b. hot tubing in the cold & a ton of laughter… including unintentional mudding.


¤ route 127 world’s largest garage sale

this has been on my list for some time- hubby surprised me with an early birthday present! ROAD TRIP!


¤ boudoir photo shoot

(sorry no photos included for this one!)

¤ surprise hubby with dinner in bed of truck


packed dinner, wine and a deck of cards. parked the truck and got comfy. happy birthday baby!


¤ create a box garden

there has since been a fence placed, because apparently deer and bunnies like my garden as much as I do!


¤ volunteer

habitat for humanity, cancer survivors day and feed my starving children. give back to others. no strings attached. nothing in it for you. learn to give of yourself.


¤ Holy hill

took grandma for a road trip to take in the views of this beautiful church and breathtaking surroundings.


this is it.  2017 in review.  2017 taught me a lot. don’t give up. never stop being real to who you are. challenge yourself. enjoy life. love your family. stop worrying so much. but most importantly, God is so good!

(look for additional blog posts on these adventures arriving in the near future)

what did you do in 2017?

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2018 bucket list


it’s the end of february already!  where did the first two months of 2018 go? with the new year upon us and one month down…have you stuck to your resolutions? do you make resolutions?  me? nope! i don’t make resolutions, however i do set goals for myself and of course with each new year comes a new bucket list.

2018’s bucket list may look different then past years, because this year has everything to do with minimizing and simplifying.  i’m not going to lie, this seemed extremely overwhelming and a bit frightening at first.  for those of you who know me the best, you understand that thrifting is a God given talent of mine, and i pride myself on not wearing the same combination of clothes… well ever. LOL!

planning new adventures with my family and friends is my favorite past time.

THEN to top it all off… my husband and i talked about taking no trips this year!  NO TRIPS! okay this was definitely his idea. i argued for some time and we eventually settled on no trips abroad! so i still have the option of planning day trips, weekend get-aways and short jaunts to neighboring states.  apparently he decided his sanity was an important thing to keep!  smart man he is!  😉

the purpose in all of this is to focus our energy this year to saving, cleansing of “stuff”, home improvements, and allowing more time to enjoy the important things in life.  i can’t explain the freedom i already feel only 8 weeks into this adventure (more to come on the world of minimizing).

my hope is that you draw inspiration from my lists and CREATE one for yourself and NEVER stop being curious!

okay so here it goes…

2018 | bucket list:

(disclaimer: this is a never-ending work in progress, continuously being revised, refined, and modified)
  • ¤ tough mudder
  • ¤ design & create blog
  • ¤ learn spanish
  • ¤ take a photography course
  • ¤ visit door county  (https://www.doorcounty.com/)
  • ¤ skydive (tandem)
  • ¤ take a city tour of chicago
  • ¤ rv trip (okay so this one might have to wait)
  • ¤ go laser tagging
  • ¤ try a new food
  • ¤ motorcycle ride across the state with the hubby and pops
  • ¤ learn to surf
  • ¤ go to a musical
  • ¤ girls weekend get-a-way
  • ¤ visit and camp at life fest  (https://lifest.com/splash/)
  • ¤ spend a day at country usa  (http://www.countryusaoshkosh.com/)
  • ¤ indoor bike course http://www.raysmtb.com/about/what-is-ray-smtb.html
  • ¤ plan and play “not so newlywed game” with friends
  • ¤ visit an art museum
  • ¤ take dance lessons
  • ¤ take horse back riding lessons
  • ¤ go to the milwaukee ballet
  • ¤ go karting
  • ¤ enjoy a new restaurant
  • ¤ tennessee/nashville (ummm… my husband doesn’t think tennessee is a neighboring state to          wisco? and again this one might have to wait)
  • ¤ kids take hunter safety course
  • ¤ take motorcycle lessons
  • ¤ visit the kohler water spa
  • ¤ go snowboarding
  • ¤ go sledding
  • ¤ ride in a limo for lunch
  • ¤ go on a hot air balloon ride
  • ¤ write a letter to myself to open in 10 years
  • ¤ 52 week photography challenge
  • ¤ dance in the rain
  • ¤ go on a star gazing date
  • ¤ send a message in a bottle
  • ¤ visit a trampoline park
  • ¤ colorado camping trip
  • ¤ backpacking trip
  • ¤ create a wild flower garden
  • ¤ handwrite letters and cards to friends & family
  • ¤ see a comedian live
  • ¤ read!
  • ¤ Bible in a year


as we check items off our bucket list, i will be sure to provide updates, feed back and of course lots of pictures!  be sure to keep stopping back to check out this years adventures!


Once a year, go some place you’ve never been before

                                                                -dalai lama


what is on your list this year?  i’d love to hear about it!


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