Wondering how mountain bike trails in the Stevens Point Area got their start? Learn more about how one of Wisconsin’s best mountain biking trails began as an experiment in the Stevens Point Area and set off a chain reaction of recreational opportunities.
Standing Rocks County Park
On any given day, cars decked out with bike racks are parked along a wooded skyline. These riders owe a great deal of thanks to a group of biking enthusiasts and volunteers who spotted the potential, tucked into a 524-acre county park.
The park, Portage County’s largest, aptly named Standing Rocks for massive boulders and a landscape dictated by glaciers, sat waiting. Seven miles from the roaring traffic of Interstate 39 and Highway 51, only those who venture off the beaten path on County B view signage to call attention to the park’s year-round activities. One of those activities (spoiler alert: biking) has been growing in popularity, due in part to the work of the Point Area Single Track Association (PASTA), Friends of Standing Rocks, and Portage County Parks.
Paving the Way with Scott Cole
Scott Cole, an avid rider and founding member of PASTA, knows the importance of taking the time and doing things right – which includes building trail. In 2004, an experimental single-track trail was set in motion. What followed was the development of a 14-mile technical mountain bike trail, the first in the region.
“With my involvement over the years with the Green Circle Trail, Standing Rocks, and hopefully future urban mountain bike trails in the Stevens Point Area, I know that if you build it correctly, people will come and enjoy it,” said Scott Cole.
The creation of the first trail set off a chain of events, turning the experiment into a movement. The changes are visible in improvements throughout the park beyond biking; Standing Rocks added snow-making equipment, opened the Behnke Olson Outdoor Recreation Center, and created a lighted loop for cross-country skiing. The addition of beginner flow trails and advanced trails with fun features, which began in 2019, quadrupled ridership in just over a year. Today, thanks to the work of volunteers, fundraising and a partnership with the county parks department, it is poised to continue.
Why Choose Standing Rocks?
With abundant riding options across Wisconsin, Cole had plenty of thoughts about why Standing Rocks should be on every rider’s must list. To him, it all comes down to variety. New machine-built trails add berms, jumps, and rollers. These trails offer accessibility to beginners but are still fun for advanced riders.
“Add in the elevation changes, beautiful wooded views, and the combination of old school narrow legacy trails with wide and smooth flow trails – it is a perfect mix,” said Cole.
Still wondering if the trails at Standing Rocks are worth checking out? “Standing Rocks is in the top quarter of all the mountain biking trails in Wisconsin. In fact, last fall a group of avid bikers I spoke to in the park said it was their favorite spot to ride – and they just got back from a trip biking in Moab, Utah,” said Cole.
Watch the trails in action:
Ride All Year Long
In the winter, fat tire biking opens up a completely new ride experience. “Since they groom the fat tire trail, it changes the way the trail rides. Speeds are slower, but still exciting. The riding is challenging and fun, and available all year long,” said Cole. Other considerations? For winter riding with fat tire bikes, he recommended adjusting tire pressure, depending on conditions and temperatures – and dressing for the weather for a comfortable ride.
During the winter, when daylight hours are at a premium, there are lighted nordic ski trails that help to partially illuminate a few of the fat tire bike trails, but they are for skiing only. “Fat tire biking is allowed at night, and helmet and handlebar lights are required for safely navigating the trails,” said Cole.
What keeps bringing him back to the park? “To me, therapy is being on my bike. It is a great way to spend time and I love seeing people of all ages enjoying the park,” said Cole.
WHERE TO FIND IT
Standing Rocks County Park
7695 Standing Rocks Road, Stevens Point
Located just 7 miles east of Plover in central Wisconsin, Standing Rocks Park offers a wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities all year long. Visitors to the park can enjoy mountain biking, fat tire biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, a 33-hole disc golf course, and a large dog exercise area.
Parking is available on the northside of Standing Rocks Road, with access to fat tire biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, mountain biking, and disc golf, near the newly constructed Behnke Olson Outdoor Recreation Center (BOORC). Inside, you’ll find a 24-hour warming space, complete with a fireplace, and restrooms. Outside, a welcoming fire pit is on the back patio.
Looking to rent a bike to get riding? Rentals are available through the Hostel Shoppe – including Fat Tire Bikes. The bike boom has impacted availability, so it is recommended to call ahead to reserve, to ensure availability. Note: You will need to provide your own transportation for rentals.
Started in 2004, PASTA is a mountain bike advocacy organization committed to bringing world-class mountain biking to the greater Stevens Point Area through sustainable trail development, equitable trail access, and the promotion of a welcoming outdoor recreational culture. Looking to help build trails and support the growth of trails in the Stevens Point Area? If you have a love for mountain biking and want to volunteer, connect with PASTA to get involved.
Find out more about biking in the Stevens Point Area. Then, order a free Pedal Paddle Hike Guide or a Visitors Guide to start planning your trip today.