Length: About 29 miles combined
Public restroom at Tuttle Lake Swimming Area and Boat Launch
Longbranch Saloon in Germania is open for business.
Tuttle Lake Trek (10 miles) Begin at the Tuttle Lake Boat Launch and Beach, on Tuttle Lake Road. Take a right on Tuttle Lake Rd, then left at Duck Creek Ave, take a right on CTY N, right on Eagle Rd. Go straight across HWY 22 to 15th Dr, right on CTY E. Go straight across HWY 22 onto Duck Creek Ave. Turn left onto Tuttle Lake Rd and back to the boat launch. This route crosses the Mecan River twice and takes you around Germania Marsh Wildlife Area.
Germainia Jaunt (19 miles) Start at the Montello City Park on Doty St. Ride south to Park, turn left and Park St. This will take you out of the city to the junction with 16th Rd. Take a left onto 16th Rd, take a left on 17th Ct, right on Elk Ct, left on 18th Ave. Continue straight across CTY J on 18th Ave. Turn right on Edgewood Rd, left on CTY N, left on Eagle Rd, left on 18th Ave, right onto Edgewood Rd, left on CTY J, right on 17th Ct, right on 16th Rd, right on Park St, right on Doty St and back to the city park. At the northern part of this journey, you will pass Comstock Lake and the Germania Marsh Wildlife Area.
MORE INFORMATION: You may pedal fast and hard on the Germania Jaunt bike route in Marquette County, but if you do you’ll want to ride it again at a slower pace to be able to take in all the glorious beauty of these 26.5 miles of country roads.
There are several places you can begin the route. Start in Montello, leaving your car in a public parking lot or begin just outside of town, leaving your car along Fern Road which is a dead end road. You also could begin in one of the parking areas in the Germania Wildlife Area that can be reached off the west side of County Trunk N just north of Eagle Road. Check the map in the Marquette County Guide to find your starting location. The Marquette County Guides can be picked up at area businesses.
Our descriptive tour today begins at Fern Drive and 16th road where you will travel north, connecting to 17th Court. This flat, straight stretch takes you past some unbelievably pretty vistas of open prairie and farm fields where you can see far into the distance. Farther north you’ll see stands of tamarack trees. The tamarack is the only conifer that turns color in fall and loses its leaves/needles in for the winter. In fall it’s a bright golden color and in spring the bright lime green foretells the coming of warmer weather. Some tamaracks grow close to the road where you can touch their soft needles and see the round berry-like cones on the graceful branches.
When the route splits at Edgewood and Elk Court, you can choose your path still heading north. Edgewood takes you along the west side of Comstock Bog-Meadow, a 537 acre State Natural Area. If you watch closely, you’ll find a small turn off and parking area on the west side of Edgewood. Pull in and look out across the wide expanse of tall grasses where the state-endangered yellow rail nest and what bobolink, Leconte’s sparrow, and sora also call their summer home. There are mink, muskrat, and many reptiles and amphibians that also live here. The DNR website reports that early land surveyors in 1851 described the area as a wet, quaking marsh, "over which we crossed with not a little danger to our lives."
As you travel north on 18th Avenue to Eagle Road, know that the area you travel has yielded much evidence of the earliest people who lived here. Paleo-Indians, Archaic Tradition People, and Woodland Indians as well as later people like Oneota and Winnebago used the Germania area for their hunting, fishing, living, and ceremonial spaces. There are still mounds on private property and in the late 1800’s people would travel from Chicago and Milwaukee to search for artifacts while amateur archeologists mapped campgrounds, gardens, and ceremonial sites once used by Native Americans.
A good place to stop for a sandwich or icy drink is the Long Branch Saloon in the little settlement of Germania. The town was once lively and prosperous (today’s visitors and residents will tell you it still is lively and prosperous) and Fran Sprain, historian of Marquette County, reported that it wasn’t unusual to sell 750 tickets to a weekend dance in the mid to late 1800s. The Long Branch was the Germania Hotel and dance hall at one time where travelers would stay and take their meals.
You can pedal along and think about the Germania Company that once drew faithful followers of Benjamin Hall who preached of the Lord’s second coming. The group shared a home and all work, an early example of communal living which was sprouted up in various forms based on varying philosophies and theologies in other locations in Wisconsin as well. The colony, the Germania Company, lasted about 20 years until its founder died.
Traveling to the east and then north along County Road N you will make a loop around the Germania Marsh Wildlife Area. This 2400 acre wetland area offers canoeing, hiking, fishing, and some hunting. (Check with the DNR for more information.) It’s well worth it to turn into one or two of the entries into the land. The first one you will see after you leave Germania going north on N has a gravel road that goes through hardwood forest and opens into a wonderful view of Germania Lake and the surrounding marsh. Take your bug spray during mosquito weather.
Be careful as you travel west on Duck Creek Avenue since you’ll cross Highway 22 twice, but following the designated route is worth it because you’ll see the old general store in Budsin and cross over the clear, clean Mecan River on a one lane bridge.
On the west side of the Germania Wildlife Area is yet another State Natural Area, the Germania Wet Prairie. You can access it from a small parking area off Eagle Road. This land has never been pastured and is a pristine wetland with a diverse ecosystem and vegetation like prairie blazing-star, mountain mint, swamp thistle, Michigan lily, marsh bellflower, downy phlox, boneset, tall meadow-rue, pale-spike lobelia, and royal fern.
Taking in the wildlife, wild flowers, and overall wildness of this area will give you a sense of Wisconsin’s natural beauty that, in turn, will refresh your spirit. Red painted barns and lichen covered walls peeking out from under century old oaks will take your mind off your cares and ease you into a place of serenity and peace.
The Germania Jaunt bike route is an excursion through rolling farmland, wild places, and gathering places for people in the distant past as well as today. Pedal fast if you must the first time around, but come back and take your time to see all that this path has to offer.
What you'll see:
Peaceful farm vistas
Serene Mecan River
Germania Wildlife Area
Tamarack rimmed wetlands
Historic Longbranch Saloon