I ran the Elroy Sparta State Trail starting in Elroy at 6 am and ending in Sparta just before noon. Temp was in upper 50’s to start and low 70’s by the end. Sunny with some clouds developing and a nice breeze. Dewpoints were in the 50’s so a very pleasant day. I started right where the path meets Highway 82, though its true beginning may be about a half mile up where there is a small parking lot and a sign explaining the trail. This sign states that it is 32 miles which seem to match, with the half mile I had just done, the 32.5 miles the WDNR site says the trail is in length. The trail is somewhat exposed during the first 6 miles and can hear traffic from highway 71. My husband, Jim, acted as my crew and met me at a few locations along the path. I had a vest with various nutrition and two 12 oz bottles.
The first town is 6 miles down in Kendall where there was an old depot and a porta potty. Then at about mile 9 you come to the first tunnel. You definitely need a headlight or flashlight in the tunnel, it extended for about 0.25 miles and is about 10 degrees cooler or more than it was outside. The section leading up to the tunnel from Kendall and beyond was more tree lined. Jim met me at about 11.5 and I refilled my water bottles and grabbed some more nutrition. Then I continued on to the next town of Wilton at about 15 miles. This is a very cute town with a nice restroom facility next to the path/parking lot. I just used the restroom and grabbed a little food and then continued on.
The next tunnel came just past mile 17 and is about 0.3 miles long. This section was nicely wooded up to the tunnel and a little more open beyond into the town of Norwalk at about 21 miles. Slight walk up a hill leads to a restroom facility with showers and a picnic shelter area. Jim parked here and ran back to meet me to run in with me a couple of miles. I took a small break here to eat some solid food and refill my water/sports drink bottles. I took off on my own and ran to the next tunnel at about mile 24, Jim met me and ran through the tunnel with me this time so he could check it out too, plus this one is about 0.8 miles long. There was an unexpected restroom facility just before the longest tunnel.
You can see the other ends of the tunnels on all three, none are on a bend where you cannot. The last tunnel was a lot drippier and wet on the path. I really had to watch my footing on this one because there are more ruts and puddles and divots that could trip you up. I also chose to run on a Thursday because this is a popular path and it probably gets a lot of bicyclists on the weekend. There were a few in the third tunnel when I ran and the bikers do have to walk through the tunnel so allow them room to pass. After that I ran solo again on to mile 28 where Jim refilled my water and I took a brief break before the last section into Sparta. Jim drove on to Sparta to park by the depot where there are restrooms, a person on staff for info, water, pop and other souvenirs. He ran back and met me at about mile 32.
Now, I’m not sure if the Elroy Sparta trail officially ends where the trail seems to intersect another trail about half mile from the Sparta depot at Water and Milwaukee St. If so, it may be more around 33 miles, but where I ended (and including the little extra added on walking to the bathroom and car in a couple of the towns), the GPS came out to 34 miles for me.
Overall, a beautiful, historic and unique trail that was really fun to do. I ran the majority of it and felt really good but I know that someone could definitely run it faster than me. There are very slight uphills and then downhills from each tunnel, which are noticeable to a degree but the trail is still mostly flat with beautiful rolling hills to admire in the surrounding countryside. Definitely check this trail out!!!