December 2021 Board Election Coming Soon

The Friends group is currently seeking members interested in running for a Director-at-Large position.  
We also want to thank Ron Kaminecki, who has served as the Friends’ Secretary for the past two years, for his dedicated service and support. We encourage any members with interest in or experience with a Secretary role in an NGO to apply for the Director-at-Large position.


Purchase your 2022 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, negative impact on the trail experience, safety, trail modifications, and environmental impacts. The Board of the Friends’ Group does recognize the limited motorized use of each trail. Our stance moving forward will be to speak out in opposition to expanding motorized use of both trails while promoting and advocating for silent sports and trail preservation. 

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.

Update on the Stewart Tunnel – June 2021

The Stewart Tunnel on the Badger Trail south of Belleville remains closed; the DNR is working towards a permanent solution, but no timeline is currently available. Several concerns include large sections of ceiling rock and side walls falling that could cause serious injury to the visitors.  Any corrective measures are likely to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not in the millions.  The DNR is looking at both short-term and long-term solutions and is taking the time now to ensure we can all enjoy the tunnel for decades to come. The DNR has contracted with an engineering firm to perform onsite assessments and give recommendations as well as a bat biologist to understand the needs of the bat population that resides in the tunnel.

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.

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 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!