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.
CAMBA TRAILS RECEIVE IMBA
RIDE CENTER DESIGNATION
The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) based in Boulder, Colorado, has announced its 2014 class of Model Trails designees. Among IMBA’s Model Trails program is a category of Ride Centers. The Ride Center designation represents IMBA’s Model Trail recognition for large-scale mountain bike facilities that offer something for every rider and are destination-worthy areas that include everything from backcountry adventures to shuttle-served gravity trails and range from expert-only to family-friendly.
As part of this year’s class, the CAMBA trails have been designated a Bronze Level Ride Center. There are only 27 Ride Centers around the world and the Chequamegon Area Ride Center is the only one in the state of Wisconsin among just four in the Upper Midwest/Great Lakes states.
“This is a significant recognition of the great trails we have developed across our area,” reflects CAMBA Executive Director Ron Bergin. “We believe that the trails of the Chequamegon Area are among the best in the country; to receive this prestigious designation is validation of that belief.”
A local or regional trail system must be invited to apply to receive Ride Center designation. CAMBA submitted a proposal to request to be invited this past winter and was subsequently invited to submit an application. The application was submitted in May and has since been reviewed by IMBA staff and the regional director. “Before deciding to apply for Ride Center designation,” Bergin explained, “we assembled a team of local riders that were familiar with the trails and the infrastructure of our trail system and did a self-assessment to be sure we had a solid chance. Our work quickly showed that we would score at least on the Bronze Level and even perhaps at the Silver Level. This encouraged us to move ahead with the process.”
Ride Center applications are scored on an objective point system that includes everything from the quality and type of trails, degree of difficulty, climbing, descending, technicality, special features, amenities, services, and community support. “Our specialty is cross country riding,” notes Bergin. “We have far more interconnected cross country mountain bike trails than any place in the Midwest and rival other parts of the country. Obviously we don’t have the terrain for extensive downhill or freeride experiences, so we didn’t score as well in those categories.”
Bergin noted, however, that as enhancements and improvements continue to be made throughout the CAMBA system, it would be possible to be elevated to a Silver Level Ride Center.
“Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of being named an IMBA Ride Center,” Bergin adds, “is that we are now, deservedly, thrust on to the national stage of mountain bike destinations.” Riders look to the list of IMBA Ride Centers and plan their travels to experience popular mountain bike trail systems across the country. It can be anticipated that more riders will flock to the region to experience the CAMBA Ride Center in conjunction with the three other Upper Midwest Ride Centers, all within a few hours drive of each other. “As surprising as it may sound,” Bergin notes, “we’ve actually struggled to get the word out about what we have here. The Ride Center designation will go a long way to improve both the awareness and perception of the CAMBA trails.”
“We are extremely grateful to the local communities and agencies that offered their support for our Ride Center proposal. I am confident this unabashed support for our efforts played a role in our designation,” Bergin concludes.
To learn more about the IMBA Models Trails and Ride Center programs visit www.imba.com/model-trails. Visit the CAMBA website at www.cambatrails.org to learn more about mountain biking in the Chequamegon Area.
There’s been a lot going on out on the trails. Here's a quick up-date.
Our trail work season actually started several months ago with some fairly intense planning that has led to the development of a five-year plan that will provide the architecture for our trail construction, enhancement, and maintenance for the next several years. As this document is fine tuned, we will share it on this website.
Our on-the-ground trail work got underway in mid-May when our seasonal maintenance crew hit the trails. With all of the great trails we have out there it has become increasingly important that we give them the necessary maintenance attention to insure that they are safe, sustainable, and remain fun. Initially two people with the later addition of a third, the crew has been bouncing around the CAMBA region performing routine maintenance tasks to whip the trails into shape. Among their many duties have been: leaf blowing, sign and post replacement, trailhead gateway construction, lopping, brush cutting, tread work, and mowing. Our tool arsenal now includes a DR trimmer/mower and a DR field/brush mower, both of which have been getting a workout. The crew has been doing a great job in this important part of presenting the best possible trails we can to the public.
Actual digging-the-dirt construction began on June 3 with the start of the Martel’s Pothole alternate line. This long awaited piece of trail was designed to provide a less difficult way in and out of the pothole and intended to be of intermediate difficult and ride two-way. The original steeper line will remain as a one-way uphill trail. The new line also incorporates some flow-style character and includes a dozen bermed turns. Just prior to beginning construction we suffered a set back when our original mini-excavator operator informed us he would not be able to work for us this summer. A quick scramble lead to the hiring of Adam Harju from Grand Marais, Minn., who jumped in for a couple of weeks and did the digging on the new piece of trail. It was also a scramble getting the trail ready with Stan Walczak and Charlie Evenson cutting the corridor and several volunteer nights to get it “swamped” out. Working with the machine was a three-person seasonal finish crew whose job is to follow the machine and clean up and finish the trail. The .7-mile piece of trail came out great and has received very positive reviews.
Ojibwe Trail Rehab
Concurrent to the Martel’s project was the start-up of a major rehab effort on the Ojibwe Trail. Part of this work is being funded by a Recreational Trails Act grant through the Wisconsin DNR. As CAMBA’s oldest singletrack, the Ojibwe Trail was built at a time when we were far less knowledgeable and experienced in the ways of sustainable trail construction. In many places choices were made to site the trail using grades that were less than ideal. In addition, our work force at the time was primarily comprised of wayward youth, ages 15-17, doing community service as part of their penance for their offenses. While they helped us get a lot of trail built over three years, the outcome was not always what we like to see today. Another factor in the rehab of the Ojibwe is its role as the final link in the continuous singletrack from Hayward to Cable. As we were wrapping up the final segments of that trail it struck us that it made no sense to run people all that way and then dump them onto a gnarly, rugged trail to conclude the ride. Work on the west side of the Ojibwe thus far has addressed about 4.5 miles from the North End Trailhead to the junction with Seeley Pass at C35. Among the treatments the trail has received are root pruning, rock removal, bench cut remediation, deberming, and numerous short realignments that avoid unsustainable hills while maintaining the original footprint of the trail. Some of this work will appear dramatic, but the overall intent is to try to maintain much of the trail’s original character. It will still be narrow, winding with tight turns and short steeper “ups” on exposed sidehills.
Concern has been expressed about dumbing down the trail when we already have only a small amount of truly “difficult” trail in the CAMBA system. While some of the gnarlier segments of the trail on the west side have been moderated, the ride is still plenty challenging. And segments yet to be built that move the trail off old woods roads will actually be more difficult. On the east side where there are rock gardens, these will remain, but a less difficult alternate line will be created around them. With the hub of mountain biking activity that the Cable area has become, there really is no singletrack that is accessible to the intermediate level or less experienced rider. It is also hoped that the work on the Ojibwe will make it appealing to a greater number of riders. Work on the Ojibwe has been done by a five-person hand building crew augmented by the machine finish crew while we were “without operator.”
North End Trailhead
One of the initiatives undertaken this season was to adopt the North End Trailhead as a CAMBA trailhead and work with the North End Ski Club to maintain the site. With the uncertain future of Telemark Resort it has become less feasible to continue to maintain a trailhead and direct people to ride from the mothballed resort. It was decided to remove the trailhead until such time that it the resort is up and running and there are sufficient number of people to make sense to have a trailhead there. The Terrain Park Trail has been maintained and is open as are the ski trails. The latter, however, have seen very little use in recent years. The first two miles of the Ojibwe from Telemark will see only basic maintenance. Those wishing to ride the Ojibwe should start from and finish at the North End Trailhead and ride the nine-mile loop (note that there is a detour on the southeast corner of the trail due to active logging). To facilitate the use of the North End Trailhead a new trail will be built from the east end of the ridge south of the cabin and gradually work its way and switchback down to the trailhead.
Cable Connector Trail
Working with a small band of volunteers, John Leighton and his team have advanced the Rock Lake to Danky Dank connection over a mile to the west. Starting near Emerson Lake, when completed the trail will connect to Danky Dank at the boundary of the National Forest.
The Mt. Ashwabay team has also made good progress. Work started as soon as they could get at the trail following the record winter. Using the mini-excavator another ¾ mile of trail was roughed in. Weekly work nights have been focused on finish work and other hand building. With upwards of five miles of singletrack at Mt. Ashwabay, a new map has been developed and the Mt. Ashwabay Cluster will be officially included on the CAMBA Area Map and Trail Guide.
The Project List – Summer 2014
• System-wide maintenance
• Martel’s reroute - .7 mile
• Ojibwe Rehab – 6-7 miles
• Ojibwe reroutes - approx. 1 mile
• Camp 38 Rd. Trailhead connector (pending county approval) - .6 mile
• Hatchery Creek reroutes (pending county approval)
• Hatchery Creek tread remediation
• Danky Dank completion – 1 mile
• Cable Connector - .5 mile
• Mt. Ashwabay – 2-3 miles
It is important to note that, thanks to the generous donations of individuals and businesses, grants, and several major local events, CAMBA will be investing over $60,000 in trail maintenance, enhancements, and construction this summer. We anticipate similar investments each year over the course of our five-year plan.
All trails are now open with the exception of those listed below.This page will be updated as conditions change.
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.
TRAIL CLOSURES AND SPECIAL NOTICES
OJIBWE TRAIL - Logging has begun between C26 and C27 and this segment of trail is CLOSED . Detours have been posted to route riders around the affected area.
DANKY DANK - while open for riding, is under construction and not a completed trail. As such, there 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. There is little signage at this time.
Come out for a full moon night ride on Saturday, August 9 at the Wilson Lake Trailhead, Riders will be able to choose between a gravel road ride and singletrack. Beverages and a bonfire will be included. We hope to have loaner lights available. Stay tuned for more details