Purchase your 2023 Annual Wisconsin State Trail Pass from the Friends group to help support the trails.

two women pulling a child in a sled on the Badger trail

The mission of the Friends of the Badger and Sugar River State Trails as a nonprofit organization is to collaborate with the Department of Natural Resources to enhance usage and physical aspects of the trails. Our mission is reflected in the Southwest Savanna Draft Plan proposal to maintain current usage of the Badger and Sugar River State Trails, which includes hiking, biking, cross country skiing as well as snowmobiling and limited winter ATV use on a portion of the BST during appropriate conditions. 

We support the concerns of trail users regarding user conflicts, and collaborate to minimize negative impacts on trail experience, safety, trail modifications, and environmental impacts. While e-Bikes are permitted on the trails (traveling up to speeds of 15 mph), both the Board of the Friends’ Group recognizes that, per DNR regulations, the use of each trail is limited to non-motorized vehicles. Following our 2020 trail user survey, the Friends’ stance moving forward is to speak out in opposition to expanding motorized use of both trails while promoting and advocating for silent sports and trail preservation. 

Update on the status of the Round Grove Bridge

According to the DNR, the at grade bypass was completed and signs installed in late December and the trail section is open for use. The newly developed ramps down to the Round Grove road will likely be soft in the spring, but over time should harden.  The alternatives for bridge replacements are being discussed between the WDOT and other partners at this time.


We have heard your concerns on a couple of topics in particular: ATV use and the Stewart Tunnel.


The Friends Group conducted a survey in early June in order to gauge support for any changes to the trails’ current usage, to which over 250 people responded. Here is a summary of the results: Data_All_200612.

The DNR  has released its draft Master Plan for Wisconsin’s Southwest Savannah region to the public. The Friends Group is pleased that the plan proposes to maintain the current usage of the Badger and Sugar River State Trails. With regard to new ATV usage rules in specific communities along the trails, please contact their City Councils let them know your opinions and your concerns.

Status of the Stewart Tunnel – May 2022

Engineering Report on Condition and Review of Alternatives for Stewart Tunnel

The Stewart Tunnel on the Badger Trail south of Belleville remains closed. In January, the DNR published EG Engineering’s assessment of the condition of the tunnel and alternatives for addressing its many issues, which include several large sections of ceiling rock and side walls falling, potentially causing serious injury to visitors. While no timeline for implementation of any of the prospective alternatives is currently available, the DNR is looking at both short-term and long-term solutions to ensure we can all enjoy the tunnel for decades to come.

This spring the group will collaborate with local organizations to launch a fundraising campaign to help support the DNR’s efforts to restore the tunnel once the DNR has reviewed the alternatives and develops its plans.   

In the short run, the DNR is considering adding doors to the tunnel that would close in the winter and open in the spring, similar to the doors on the tunnels along the Elroy-Sparta trail, to reduce the annual freeze/thaw damage.  In the meantime, the DNR has arranged two detour routes around the closed tunnel.

Follow the link below for an article with information about the Elroy-Sparta tunnels. If you want the experience of going through the longest tunnel on the oldest rail-trail in the US while the Stewart Tunnel is closed, head up north after May 1!

June 21, 2018: Three old Railroad Tunnels Help Make the Elroy-Sparta Trail One of the State’s Most Popular 

What can you do?

  • Contact the DNR to advocate for the by-pass and hopefully eventual repair of the tunnel. (Enter the name of the trail in the subject line on the staff directory page for the responsible contacts.)
  • Help the Friends start a fundraising campaign to raise money for the repair of the tunnel.
  • Keep your questions coming to us through our website and our Facebook page. We will continue to share your concerns with the DNR.

The Friends of the Badger and Sugar River State Trails is seeking volunteers to pick up trash along sections of the Badger trail, from Madison, WI to Freeport, IL and the Sugar River Trail. The trails have seen significantly more usage since the onset of the pandemic lockdown, resulting in more litter. Consider signing up for our 2023 April 22nd Earth Day cleanup by contacting us today! We will have meeting sites in Belleville, Monticello, Albany and Fitchburg.

Given current social distancing guidelines, in lieu of a work day, the Friends would like to recruit one or two people to pick up trash along specific portions of the trails. If you would be willing to find a partner and take on a section of either trail to maintain, please contact us at information@friendsofbadgerstatetrail.org to let us know which section you are willing to work on. We appreciate your commitment to helping to keep the trails clean and safe for all users!