Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail

The Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail is a 600+ mile route that starts at the Illinois/Wisconsin border near Galena IL, and finishes northeast of Cornucopia Wisconsin at Lake Superior. This route has taken on the acronym of  T.W.A.T., so you may hear it being called that, I usually just call it the Trans Wisconsin Trail.  The T.W.A.T. was designed for dual sport and Adventure style motorcycles but it can also be done by high clearance vehicles with a slight route change.

GPS Files:
Here is the link to a Dropbox folder with the files.  You will have to Right Click and Save As to save the file to your computer.  You will also need a GPS viewing program to view the file once it's on your computer.

I don't have an official paper map available yet, but I hope to at some point. Until then, you can use these screen shots to navigate the route. I suggest you use these maps to trace the route onto a Delorme Gazeteer.
Delorme Gazeteer Atlas

Warning: I am providing these resources free of charge to show others the routes I have ridden in the past.  I am not promising that these maps are accurate or safe, it is up to you to use your judgement to ride safe and navigate safely.  Motorcycling is inherently dangerous and the road conditions can change at any time.  All roads that I have included are legal for travel by street legal motorcycles at the time of this posting, but that can always change. It is  get lost and on the wrong road or trail,so keep a close eye on the map and/or GPS.  Please respect all traffic signs, trail markers, trail closures and use common courtesy for other trail and road users. Remember that someone lives on the quiet road you are riding on, its not a racetrack. 

Be prepared for DEEP sand, ruts, mud, dust, livestock in the road, horse and cow manure, deer, bears, porcupines, possums, turkeys, logs, low hanging branches, barbed wire, drunk or distracted drivers, bear hunters running dogs, logging trucks, ATV's, rednecks, amish, bad roads, no roads, lakes, streams, washouts, police, sharp unmarked corners, etc. Be aware you can die at any point along this route, regardless of your skill level.

Q & A - Questions and answers
1. How long should I plan to do this route?
It usually takes me 2 1/2 days to do the actual route, then you have to figure in your time to the start and back home again. You can certainly do the route faster, but take your time and enjoy it. There are a lot of interesting things to see along the route!

2. How difficult is this route?
Most of the route is easy paved and gravel roads, with the option of riding ATV trails in a few areas. There are areas of the route north of Black River Falls and north of Drummond that can have deep sand. The weather and other factors change the conditions of the route on a continual basis.

3. What bikes are best suited for the T.W.A.T.?
I think a 650 Dual Sport is the perfect bike for this ride. They handle the rough stuff pretty well, get good gas mileage and they work well on the highway on way home.

4. Tires, are knobbies required?
If you are even thinking this, then yes, they are. I have ridden with people that didn't have them, but the people that have good knobbies have a lot more fun. I prefer to limit my crashes as much as possible, and knobbies are cheap insurance. Dunlop D606's, Pirelli MT-21's, and Continental TKC-80's are the most commonly seen tires.

5. Camping or hotels?
I have done it both ways, I prefer camping but it depends on the group. There are great options for both along the route, but camping is easier to find, especially along the northern section of the route. Riding without camping gear is always more fun, but this route is a good shakedown run for longer trips, use it to learn what works!

6. Do I need any stickers or trail passes?
No, if you follow this route with a street legal motorcycle you do not need anything other than your plate.  There are plenty of ATV trails nearby, if you choose to ride them make sure you check the rules at the trailhead.

7. Do I need a GPS?
No, but they make it so much easier and quicker to navigate the route that they are really the only good option. Of course, its always wise to have a paper map along in case you need to change your trip.

8. Do I need to haul fuel?
Probably not, as long as you don't skip any gas stations. I wouldn't do the route with less than a 75 mile range.  I prefer to have a 200 mile range so I don't have to stop all the time as gas stops tend to waste time if you are in a group.

9. I don't like planning, is their guides available?
Yes, RIDE Adventures offers guided tours on the route, check here for info!

10. The Delta Diner, is the food really that good?
Yes, you have to stop here on your trip, its one of the highlights for sure! Very cool place and very popular, so plan ahead!

GPS helps you reroute in situations like the one below. You can reroute and get back on the route with minimal fuss.

I got to the end of the route, now what? Well you are in the Apostle Island area, go explore if you have time! Bayfield is a cool town with great places to eat, and Madeline Island is certainly worth a visit.

Ride Reports on the T.W.A.T.
Exploring the Trans Wisconsin Trail
Big Dog Adventures - First run of the GPS file:
Jim Klas, BMW MOA Ambassador's photos:!i=345121498&k=vfqoc
Bombshell Customs:
DR Riders TWAT run:


  1. NEPCO Lake was built in the 1920s by the Nekoosa Edwards Paper Company (NEPCO) to provide ultra clean water for making white paper. NEPCO Lake was built using horse drawn wagons and tractors. More than thirty teams of horses were used at any given time. To this day water flows out of the lake into a is then pumped south of NEPCO Lake all the way to Nekoosa, WI where it is used to make white paper. This water is REALLY clear.

    1. Did you fart or are we in Wisconsin Rapids on lake Nepco?

  2. I had a blast running the route a few years ago, did it on a TW200 and took my time over two weekends. It's time to do it again, hopefully this fall.

    Thanks Chad!

  3. Good morning,

    A friend and I are interested in traveling the Trans W.A.T early October and we'd like to chat with anyone who's traveled this within the past 2-3 years. I'm hoping I can make the trip in a 01 Toyota tacoma4x4? Is this trail doable in a small pick up or are we getting in over our heads. I will be equip with recovery gear. Also are they're any worthwhile stops along the way for hiking, fishing,camping, food, etc? Looking forward to any/all feedback.

    Thank you,

  4. You might want to rethink your acronym as the full 4 letter acronym spells a very derogatory slang word that refers to a vagina. Just saying'.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. There are a lot of slang terms that can be deemed derogatory. The TWAT acronym doesn't bother most people, myself included.

  5. Can a pickup truck complete this?

  6. wondering where to enter the trail if I want to avoid most of the paved roads heading north. Looks like once you are north of Black River Falls it should be good. Any comments?

  7. Looks like a great trip. I'm in the middle so will try a half at a time - should be great!!

  8. What is the slight route change that accommodates high clearance 4WD vehicles? Thanks!

  9. First of all great stuff! However it looks like the TWAT gps link is not working, at least for me. What's the email address i can use to get a hold of it. We will be in the area two weeks from now and that will be a good time to check this out.

  10. What is the difference between the dual sport map and the overland map? Trying to figure out which one to download to scenic. Riding a F800GS.

    1. OK, so with a little more research I de-moroned my question and know the answer.


    2. Just wanted to say "Thanks" for coming to the Winter Gathering at Moto Union last night. It was a pleasure to hear your stories and we truly appreciated the presentation you had.
      Thanks MUCH again,
      Steve & Tanya Druckrey

  11. I read your blog.. You have very good content....
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  12. Is it possible to ride the route north of Warrens early in spring(late March, early April)? Hoping to ride it again and trying to squeeze in an early season trip. Thanks

  13. I have a military LMTV CARGO TROOP CARRIER will I have trouble taking it down this trail. It’s tall and 17,000 lbs. has auto inflate deflate tires and 4x4 It’s just a big truck

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  14. what would 17K lbs do to the trail?

  15. Just finished the overland route. Routes in great condition! Either I missed something or the bigger water crossing now has a bridge/spillway (there was one that looked newer). One tight section due to overgrowth. Squeezed through in a stock jeep.
    Thank you!

  16. I plan on using the TWAR (yes I have decided to rename it because the name does bother me ...R for Route) to circumnavigate Lake Michigan on a grand tour of the Midwest and combine it with a route that I put together last year dubbed the Trans Hoosier Overland Route (THOR) would be fun

  17. Great Blog!!
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