The state of Wisconsin has designated 108 portions of highways and county roads throughout the state as Rustic Roads. A Rustic Road is typically a lightly traveled asphalt or gravel road that highlights the state’s natural beauty. This program, established by the Wisconsin state legislature in 1973, helps to preserve the natural features of the roads. Such roads cannot be scheduled for any major improvements that would change their rustic characteristics.
The state Department of Transportation has taken the program a step further, by establishing an award program for motorcyclists. Simply put, if you travel 10 of the 108 rustic roads you receive a “Rustic Roads Motorcycle Tour” patch. So I started toward that goal today by riding 167 miles through Brown, Outagamie and Kewaunee Counties, including 6 Rustic Roads.
Going from one Rustic Road to the next, I avoided major highways so that I could enjoy more of the beauty of our great state. What a ride! I saw many old churches, school houses, farms and cemetaries. Things for sale on the side of the roads ranged from trucks and motor homes to tractors and lawn mowers to firewood and eggs. The smell of cow manure in farm country was about as dominant as the color green in the landscape. It was sunny and beautiful so farmers and homeowners were outside plowing their fields, cutting grass, painting, riding 4-wheelers and just sitting on porches watching motorcyclists drive by.
A portion of my route took me from the far northwest area of Brown County way out to the east side and Kewaunee County. Since I had to go through Green Bay to get there, I detoured a bit and stopped at Mom’s house to see her and my niece Whitney. The hour spent there was a great relief to my rear end.
I still have four more Rustic Roads to travel before I get the patch. I may drive up to Door County for those. If that trip is anything like today’s, I can’t wait to gas up the bike again and hit the road.
Here are some stats from today:
Gas: 3.5 gallons
Max speed: 60 mph
Avg speed: 37 mph
Elevation: 660 ft
Driving time: 4:24
Here’s a Flickr slideshow of some pictures I took: Wisconsin Rustic Roads tour
Here are some videos from each of the Rustic Roads I traveled today:
|Wisconsin Rustic Road 46, Brown County
Old Plank Road is characterized by ravines, large old trees and a narrow road surface. It dates back to Civil War times when it was used to carry supplies to the Fox River.
|Wisconsin Rustic Road 7, Brown County
This route wanders past the remains of an old lime kiln, travels through glacial deposits, and affords views of an old German home, an old flour mill, and several picturesque barns.
|Wisconsin Rustic Road 8, Brown County
Located between Flintville and Suamico, R8 wanders between stands of hardwood and coniferous trees that stretch along its length near a county park.
|Wisconsin Rustic Road 61, Outagamie County
This road features an interesting combination of historic and scenic features. Many wooded areas, wetlands and agricultural uses adjoin the road’s 3.3 mile course. R61 crosses several streams and stretches along several wetland areas that are part of the Wolf River watershed. Several large white pines grow near this road, often in combination with large stands of trees.
|Wisconsin Rustic Road 53, Outagamie County
R53 is located in one of the richest agricultural areas in the Fox Valley. Visitors will find a double arch bridge, an old school house which serves as the town hall, a century farm, an old stone silo, Apple Creek, and a resource conservation area abundant with wildlife. Construction of this road dates back to 1857.
|Wisconsin Rustic Road 16, Manitowoc County
This gently winding route runs through Point Beach State Forest, bordered on either side by thick groves of deciduous and coniferous trees. Sandy Bay Road offers many glimpses of birds and other wildlife, as well as open vistas of natural sand dunes, including juniper bushes and other types of shrubbery.
(I rode this one on June 17, 2011.)