Welcome to the premier system of mountain bike trails in the Midwest, located in and around the beautiful Chequamegon National Forest region of Northwest Wisconsin.
The Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association off-road bike trail system consists of over 300 miles of marked and mapped routes through a near-wilderness area of striking beauty and peaceful solitude. The CAMBA system is quickly becoming the Singletrack Mecca of the Midwest, with more singletrack trail being constructed every year. CAMBA's ultimate vision is a linked system of singletrack trails connecting Hayward, Seeley, Cable and Namakagon.
Boogie in the Barn was an unqualified success! Thanks to everyone who attended, volunteered, donated auction items or in any way contributed to the outstanding evening.
And into the future
CAMBA is now in its 23rd year of maintaining and developing trails in Bayfield and Sawyer Counties in Northwest Wisconsin. The bounty of public land throughout the area continues to be our greatest asset and has been instrumental in our success in gaining access to a significant land base that has provided a tremendous variety of wonderful areas in which to site trails. The result has been the creation of a vast interconnected network of trails spanning large distances.
Over the past 23 years the CAMBA system has evolved from a network of nearly 300 miles of mapped and marked off-road routes with hardly any singletrack to one of the largest true singletrack-based trail systems, with 90-plus miles of purpose-built singletrack trails. In 2010 the Rock Lake/Namakagon/Patsy Lake Trails were designated an IMBA Epic Ride: 31 miles, almost entirely singletrack. Last year CAMBA dedicated the completion of an equally epic ride including the Ojibwe, FlowMama, Seeley Pass, Makwa, and Hatchery Creek Trails that run uninterrupted from Cable to Hayward – a distance of 34 miles. When you add in the balance of the loops that comprise Ojibwe and Hatchery Creek, that’s a total of 44 miles.
Nearing completion is another connecting route from Cable to Namakagon that comprises the Esker, Danky Dank and Treasures’ Trace trails, another 11 to 13 miles depending where you start on the west end. Last but certainly not least is CAMBA’s newest foothold in northern Bayfield County near Mt. Ashwabay where by the end of this building season there will close to 10 miles of singletrack.
There is no magic number of how much singletrack we hope to have on the system and our goal is not to simply keep building for all eternity. As our system nears build out, we will look at ways in which the existing system can be improved and enhanced, but on a much smaller scale than in the past. One notable deficiency of the system is the lack of loops, as so much of the interconnection of the system dictated point-to-point trails. This is something we hope to rectify over time. Perhaps not to the extent that every current linear trail becomes part of a loop, but when possible return routes will be considered.
As or more important than our trail development initiatives is our commitment to maintaining and improving the trails that we have. The first CAMBA singletrack was built in 1999 at a time when admittedly we were far less knowledgeable and experienced in the ways of trail siting and design. Our work force has also changed considerably since that time, from volunteer crews of teenagers doing community service to more mature volunteers with actual trail building knowledge to paid summer crews and hired professional equipment operators. The past couple of summers we have fielded three crews that worked from the beginning of June through mid-August. In addition, we have annually contracted a mini-excavator operator for roughly that same time period. The crews’ work has been divided between new trail construction and maintenance and trail rehabilitation. Our trails budget has shifted from the vast majority being allocated to trail construction to 50 percent and now closer to two-thirds dedicated to maintenance.
Maintenance not only includes routine tasks such as clearing deadfalls, trimming and cutting brush, mowing edges, and similar chores, it also includes significant work on our oldest trails that require improved drainage, upgrades to the trail tread and when necessary, minor and major reroutes to site the trails in better locations that not only improve their sustainability, but offer a higher quality trail riding experience. Many of our more classic trails such as Ojibwe, Hatchery Creek, part of Makwa and Rock Lake will all see efforts to return these trails to their original character and intended degree of difficulty. Many have morphed into something other than they were designed to be and it is our commitment to bring these riding experiences back to what they once were.
This is not to say that all of these trails will be dumbed down and rendered a sissified ride. It has, however, been our experience that several of our trails due to the way they have evolved, have lost ridership and that is counter-productive to why these trails were created in the first place. Quite the contrary, it is our goal to increase ridership on these trails, but to accomplish that, improvements to those trails must be made. Work to accomplish this goal began last year on CAMBA’s oldest singletrack, the Ojibwe Trail. Work continued this season and is expected to be completed next summer. Similarly, work on Hatchery Creek and Makwa Trails has yielded significant improvements. Most of these trails carry an Intermediate/Blue level of difficulty rating. Some push that a little to the more difficult side of intermediate, and it is at these levels that we hope to keep these trails. Our research has shown time and again, that riders coming to the Chequamegon Area are seeking the long ride over the tough and technical. It is our belief that we have a sufficient amount of challenging trail to satisfy those looking for that type of ride. If anything, we need to develop more Easy/Green trails that provide a gateway or entry-level experience, and this is indeed something we aspire to achieve.
Like many trail organizations CAMBA has discovered and embraced the flow trail as a fun, fast-riding alternative to tightly winding, narrow benchcut singletrack. Contemporary trail concepts and gravity features have reinvigorated the trail riding experience in the Chequamegon. We have no intention, however, of converting everything to a flow trail character and there will always be a good balance of old- and new-school trails in the CAMBA system. As we have learned more about contemporary trail design, however, we have begun to blend flow characteristics and features into a more traditional cross country trail with good success.
Flow trails, of course, require moving a whole lot more dirt, and to do that machine building is required. CAMBA has been machine building on a small scale for many years. Parts of Rock Lake, Namakagon, Makwa, Hatchery Creek and Seeley Pass were machine built. More recently, FlowMama, Danky Danky and Mt. Ashwabay have been predominantly machine built. Hand building continues on Treasures’ Trace and parts of Ojibwe. Again, it is our expectation that there will continue to be a balance between hand and machine built trail on the CAMBA system.
To accomplish our lofty trail development and maintenance goals, CAMBA has really had to up its game when it comes to fund raising. We have been extremely fortunate to garner the support of Trek Bicycles, LifeTime Fitness/Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, the Chequamegon 100 and the Borah Epic, all of which have directed significant funds to CAMBA’s trail initiatives. A donor campaign is now part of our annual fund raising effort and this summer, on August 22 CAMBA will hold its first-ever gala fund raiser, Boogie in the Barn.
Where is CAMBA headed? Much of that has already been alluded to, but as part of a recent strategic planning initiative, CAMBA has developed a five-year plan that lays out many of the smaller and larger initiatives we see coming down the pike. One such initiative is the development of a small bike park at Hatchery Creek Park in Hayward. Mt. Ashwabay is slated to expand over the next three or four years to 20 to 25 miles of singletrack. More interconnection and linkages are under consideration within the existing system. And most importantly, there will be an ongoing focus on maintaining and improving what we have to secure our legacy of trail advocacy in the Chequamegon Area.
TRAIL CLOSURES, REROUTES & DETOURS-Updated: 7/22/15
Short & Fat: CLOSED from Randysek Rd. to Telemark. Active logging at the site of the new Birkie start area. No bike traffic through this area please. Also avoid McNaught/Gun Club Rd. for the same reason. There is large equipment at work and a lot of activity. Please stay out of this area.
A long bypass is to ride into Cable and out Cty M to Telemark. A more direct detour is being set up.
Sleigh Trail: A reroute is in effect to return the trail to the North End Trail Head
Ojibwe: Logging has resumed on the southeast quarter of Ojibwe. The trail is closed from C26 to C26 and a detour is in effect. Follow posted detour signs.
A reroute is also in effect on the Telemark end of the trail to bypass the Birkie Start Area.
Patsy Lake -- Due to logging activity, use the singletrack only on the outbound route from the Namakagon Trailhead and avoid the snowmobile and two-track bypasses.
DANKY DANK - Most of the finish work has been completed to the National Forest boundary. There still is no exit from the far end of the trail. You must ride out & back. It is a varied ride with many interesting terrain features, but it takes you to a very remote area.
As a rule the CAMBA trails are rideable within 12 hours or less of almost any major rain event and sooner after lesser storms. As always, please use good judgement when deciding to ride during wet weather. If you leave much more than the dimple of a tire tread, you should wait for the trails to dry out. Trails will only need to be closed due to extreme events.