Alpha Mountain Bike Trail
Nearest City: Milwaukee
Remember 'Gomer Pile', the sitcom spinoff from the Andy Griffith show?( If you do, you're old!) He was the inept soldier that had the annoying catch phrase, 'surprise, surprise, surprise'. For some reason that's what popped into my head as we rode the Alpha Mountain Bike Trail. Built by the Metro Mountain Bikers and the local WORBA chapter (Wisconsin Off-Road Bicycling Association), the Alpha Mountain Bike Trail is short and sweet with approx 6 miles of big city single track.
Located in Franklin, WI at the Crystal Ridge Ski Area, 15 miles southwest of the heart of the city of Milwaukee, the Alpha Mountain Bike Trail has two main trailheads, one off 92nd and the other from Crystal Ridge Rd. We started our ride from the Crystal Ridge Rd entrance at the ski area. First impressions. not good. Other than the chalet and the new BMX track, the ski area looks run down and neglected. Old equipment, parking lot falling apart and trailers scattered around the edges of the lot. Trying to see past the crud, we biked to the south loop that splits off into some fantastic, twisting, intermediate singletrack and an overgrown, OK 'easy' outer loop. In some areas this was so overgrown that we got turned around. Take the intermediate trail, it's a great ride. Hopes are rising.
After a tough climb up the west side of the ski hill (wrong way), we started to get our bearings a bit more and figured out that the ski hill is the perfect starting point. Twisting down the hill, the trail gets rough and if you gain speed, your upper body will get a beating. At bottom of this upper body workout is a small portion of woods that kicks you back out into the maintenance road of the ski area. Take the main road back toward the lot and meet up with the trailhead near the BMX track. This will take you along Crystal Ridge Road for a while and back into the woods (thistles were nasty--see photos). This is where our first impressions were shattered. It was no longer a dismal trail, it was an awesome ride that snaked around into the woods with obstacles, man-made and natural. Lots of care went into the development and maintenance of this trail. Kudos to the people involved. We continued further and were greeted with wet and muddy trails--still, rave reviews--it added to the fun.
Unfortunately, we couldn't ride along the river on the west side of the trail system because of the recent flooding in the area. Even without that portion we were impressed with this short trail. Signage is not the greatest, but it does exist and does help make your way around this system. Milwaukee does have everything. Art, Culture and Mountain biking, surprise, surprise, surprise.
Ratings based on a scale of 1-5 • 5 Being the highest •