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At odds: Sugar River & Badger State Trails
Should bikers and hikers share the trails with ATVs and UTVs?
“Protect the Sugar River Trail”
A “Protect the Sugar River Trail” sign at the intersection of the trail at Ware Road just north of Albany. A Facebook page “Protect Our Trails” has more than 300 members and a Change.org petition has garnered more than 16,000 signatures of people wanting to keep the biking and hiking trails free from motorized use. - photo by Adam Krebs

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is working to determine if ATVs and UTVs will be allowed on the Badger State and Sugar River Trails as part of the 2020 Southwest Savanna Ecological Landscape Regional Master Plan project. 

Once the plan is completed by the DNR, there will be 30 days of public review and comment available, which will include a public meeting that is not yet scheduled, according to Savannah Ernzen, Program and Policy Analyst Advisor for the DNR. Ernzen expects the plan to go to public review in the coming weeks.

Times reporter Adam Krebs visited the Sugar River and Badger State trails in late August to ask cyclists and hikers how often they used the trails and their thoughts on the proposal to allow access to ATVs and UTVs.

Proposed dual trail ...

If the DNR allows ATVs and UTVs on the Sugar River and Badger State trails, it would connect Brodhead to Monroe, and then be able to head west on the Cheese Country Trail toward Darlington.

■ Sugar River Trail: From the Brodhead trail head, through Albany to just south of Monticello at the junction of the Badger State Trail.

■ Badger State Trail: From the Monticello intersection with the Sugar River Trail south into Monroe until 17th street.

What trail users have to say:

setterstrom bike trail
Lydia and Matthew Setterstrom bike on the Badger State Trail between Monroe and Monticello Aug. 29. The portion of the trail, about 8 feet wide, would be shared with all-terrain vehicles if the DNR approves the change. - photo by Adam Krebs
atv trail badger sugar river
Proposed portions of the Sugar River and Badger State trails where use of ATVs and UTVs would be allowed year-round would connect Monroe to Brodhead via Monticello.

Several trail users opted to remain anonymous:

David & Stephanie from Evansville

How often do you use the trails?  2-3 times a year

Should ATVs/UTVs be allowed access to the Badger State or Sugar River Trails?  David: It’s not the best usage.

Stephanie: It should be mostly for hikers and bikers.


Shelly from Albany

How often do you use the trails?  Everyday, usually to run

Should ATVs/UTVs be allowed access to the Badger State or Sugar River Trails?  We have a UTV and we wish we could use it. We understand people have concerns, especially with their kids.


Deb from Monroe

How often do you use the trails?  2-3 times a week

Should ATVs/UTVs be allowed access to the Badger State or Sugar River Trails?  As long as they don’t hit me.


Two business owners from Madison

How often do you use the trails?  First time going down to Clarno on the Badger State Trail

Should ATVs/UTVs be allowed access to the Badger State or Sugar River Trails?  Man 1: That would be ridiculous. I would never ride this trail again.

Man 2: There are so many ATV trails already, they can stick to those.

badger state trail
Bikers cruise along the Badger State Trail Aug. 29 between Monroe and Monticello. - photo by Adam Krebs
sugar river trail
A long, narrow bridge on the Sugar River Trail allows hikers and bikers to cross the Sugar River north of Albany. - photo by Adam Krebs
Badger State Trail
sugar river trail