Can be attached to the Newton Route
No bathroom accommodations on route
Mecan River Circuit (9 miles) Park at the Park and Ride on Dixie Ave, just west of Hwy 22. Take a left on Dixie Ln, left on 14th Ave, a right on Duck Creek Ave, a right on 13th Ave. Continue straight onto CTY Y, take a right on Deerborn, a right on 14th Ave, and left on Dixie Ave returning to the Park and Ride. This route features rolling hills, crosses several streams, and travels past forested state land.
MORE INFORMATION: It might be short, but the Mecan River Circuit bike route in Marquette County is a big gift in a small package plus you can easily connect it to the Newton Township Trail if you want a longer ride. A breezy just-under-9-mile pedal, you can start and end your ride at the parking lot of the Wisconsin DNR parking lot on Dixie Road. or if you are attaching this route to the Newton Town Trail, you can begin at the Newton Town Hall. Connect the two routes by taking County Road Y off 13th Avenue. Whichever you do, plan to park your bike and walk a little on the Mecan River Circuit because you have some wonderful wooded trails to hike.
Before you begin your bike ride, you may want to stroll through the grounds of what was the DNR Discovery Center. If the gate is locked, it’s ok to walk around it and follow the black top through the camp area. No vehicles are allowed, but walkers are welcomed on this DNR owned land. It’s a good way to stretch a little before you begin your bike ride. The grounds are used for special activities and once hosted regular DNR outdoor classes.
Three streams run in the land you will be touring. The Mecan River runs just east of the parking area at the Discovery Center. Off County Road Y you can walk to both Wedde Creek and Chaffee Creek. All are trout streams.
Going west on Dixie Avenue is a flat ride after you mount the initial hill out of the parking area. Towards the end of Dixie on your right/north, you’ll see another parking area. Stop now or on your way back. Lock your bike (no bike racks, but plenty of trees), follow the trail off the parking area and take about a 15 minute walk through beautiful hardwood forest to the swift flowing and clean Mecan River. You’ll hear it before you see it; the water surges and gurgles over the rocks. It’s a Class 2 trout stream, meaning it takes some stocking, but the fish do reproduce on their own. It's also the White Pine/Black Oak State Natural Area.
Now follow Dixie out to 14th Avenue and turn north or south. You’ll have a few other chances to see some lovely trout streams, especially if you want to get off your bike and hike a little. South on 14th Avenue there are 2 other parking spots. The northern most trail takes you to Wedde Creek, also a class 2 trout stream.
Pull into the second/southern most lot on the west side of 14th. You’ll see a trail through pines going west and one on your right to the north. The trail is a loop. Walk the west-headed trail on a soft carpet of ruddy pine needles under the tall trees and watch carefully for the trail juncture on your right. It’s a little overgrown. Follow that and you loop back to the parking lot. Miss it or stay on the west trail and you’ll come out into a beautiful, spacious meadow. You can double back there and follow the trail back, glimpsing Chaffee Creek, a class 1 trout stream along the way. That means that no stocking is required and the fish reproduce on their own to maintain their numbers.
Remember, this is state hunting land so wear blaze orange if it’s deer season and even during turkey season.
There are a couple more pull off parking areas in the Chaffee Creek public lands, both off of Y which you’ll take as the western side of your bike loop.
This entire area is a wild flower lover’s delight. Along the road you’ll see many different native blooming plants as well as grasses. They change with the season. Much of the roadside is host to wetland plants. Look for Joe Pye weed, its purple heads showing themselves in late summer. On the south side of the loop as you travel on Duck Creek Avenue, you’ll go past wetlands on both sides of the road. Bundle up and come for an early spring jaunt. You may see golden marsh marigolds popping out and the uncurling leaves of skunk cabbage mean spring is really here. Skunk cabbage actually generates enough heat to melt snow.
On County Trunk Y, keep your eye out for an obelisk tombstone that stands all by itself next to a farmer’s field. It’s in the west side of Y north of Dover Avenue. Please be respectful. The monument is on private land and is a recognized burial site by the State of Wisconsin. The marble stone marks the graves of Caroline Fierke and her son, 12 year old Gustav. They both died in a fire in 1860. The home once stood near their graves. Caroline was born in 1821 in Prussia. Many Prussian immigrants settle here. Remember this name because if you take the rest of the Newton Township bike route it will come up again.
Although only an 8 mile bike route, it’s one that can take you a whole morning or afternoon to complete if you stop off at the Chaffee Creek and Mecan River parking areas and walk some of the trails. Take your time and linger. Listen to the water, smell the pines, breathe in the scent of wildness, nature at its best. Watch for turkeys, listen for wrens and chickadees. Look overhead beyond the spread of oak crowns and follow the trail of Canada Geese, Sandhill Cranes, and the occasional red tailed hawk. You’ll see deer tracks underfoot and startle squirrels from their busy work. You won’t want to leave the beauty of Marquette County.
What you'll see:
State Natural Area of White Pines and Black Oaks