marathon county Xtreme Sports Venues

Central Wisconsin is the Valhalla of extreme sports racing, offering outdoor venues that very few places in the U.S. or the world can dish up.  We will agree with you, that we might not have the tallest mountain or the longest class 3 whitewater, the greatest vertical drop in our downhill mountain bike course or the longest trails for off-road biking or cross country skiing. 

What we do have, though, is all of it!  Not one place in the Midwest or even North America has what we offer, and that is why we have earned the title “The Xtreme Sports Capital™ of the USA”. 

A mountain biker rides in a sunny forest on a dirt trail.

Ringle Mountain Bike Trails
The Ringle mountain bike trail totals approximately 4 miles of challenging single-track (with a total of 11 by end of 2019). The trails consist of a network of gut wrenching smaller loops that offer numerous jump, gap, and drop features for the intermediate rider.  The Rock, the Wierzba and Ruby Ridge trails are fully machine constructed and run through pristine glacial moraine ridges of Marathon County.  Winter fat-bike riding is available.

Back view of a woman hiking with a backpack on a wooded Wisconsin hiking trail.

Big Eau Pleine County Park
Big Eau Pleine Park is an outdoor paradise for the enthusiast with over 1,450 acres of second-growth mixed hardwoods forming a two-mile peninsula thrust deep into the waters of the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir.  Twelve miles of developed trails allow hiking, trail runs, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, biking (including 10 miles of groomed snow bike trails) and horseback riding.

View of the granite quarry at Rib Mountain State Park.

Rib Mountain State Park
With over 13 miles of interlocking trails that range from easy to challenging, Rib Mountain is one of the premier destinations in the state for hiking and snowshoeing. Numerous unique rock formations, hardwood forest and amazing vistas dominate the park and offer spectacular views of the surrounding country side and the city of Wausau.  A number of the trails were created by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s adding a unique element to a run!  The Quarry and Turkey Vulture trails add a dramatic backdrop to hikes and runs.   

Person paddle boarding on a river amongst a sunny wooded background.

Wisconsin River & Lake Wausau
Central Wisconsin offers some of the best canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding in the Midwest.  The area is blessed by the convergence of three wild and scenic rivers within Wausau.  The mighty Wisconsin flows through the heart of the city, tumbling through “Bull Falls” before entering the quite waters of Lake Wausau where it is joined by the Big Rib and the Eau Claire rivers.

The stretch of the Wisconsin between Merrill and Wausau is considered to be one of the best canoe and kayak section along the entire river. With forested shores and intimate island passages, it is a delight for the paddler offering scenic vistas along with a strong flow ending at the Riverlife Park in downtown Wausau. 

Lake Wausau is a paddle boarders delight in offering smooth, clear, and cool waters with numerous islands and the monolithic Rib Mountain standing watch over it.  Located in the center of the Wausau community with easy access to amenities and close to camping becomes a great destination for beginners to advance paddlers. 

The Big Rib River offers the experienced paddler an exhilarating trip that features a spectacular Dells section with challenging whitewater, root beer-hued water, undeveloped privacy and outstanding wildlife. The upper section rapids are class I to class II plus with the lower section offering gentle paddling before entering Lake Wausau.

View of the rock formations and whitewater river at the Eau Claire Dells

Eau Claire River
The Eau Claire River is one of the best class II-III whitewater river-runs in Wisconsin. With the right conditions, the four-mile stretch from the Eau Claire Dells through the Lower Island Dells are a wavy thrill-ride for whitewater enthusiasts who are expanding their skillset.

Advanced level kayakers will enjoy the short run of The Ledges and the Eau Claire Dells. The Ledges features numerous class III waves and holes in medium to high flows while the Dells offers up a challenging class IV waterfall and rapids through a scenic, rocky gorge.

Additional adrenaline rushes include Master Ledges (class II), Three Rows Falls (class II), and a pair of thrilling class II-III's below the Eau Claire Dells named: Upper Island Dells and Lower Island Dells. Both are long, fast and narrow rips when water conditions are medium to high with multiple channels and beautiful scenery.

Two additional whitewater rivers that are just minutes from Wausau are the Big Eau Pleine and Prairie Rivers.

For additional info:

Mountain biker catching air on a rocky downhill bike trail.

Sylvan Hill Downhill Bike Park

Trail Solutions designed a combination pump track and downhill singletrack that accommodates the beginner to the experienced rider.  The machine built trails provide challenges for every level of rider incorporating berms, rollers and technical features such as rock gardens, jumps and drops.  The main trail system consists of an uphill climb with four gravity flow trails, each a quarter mile in length and varying in difficulty level from beginner to expert, providing an adrenaline rush for the rider that wants to push the envelope. 

Mountain biker throwing up dirt behind them as they bike down a leaf covered single track trail.

Nine Mile Forest Off-Road Bike, Cross-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing Park

Nine Mile Forest’s 30 miles of trails in the 4,900 acre park open up a totally new dimension to the word “wilderness”. Nine Mile Forest boasts 12 miles of the best single track mountain biking in the Midwest. Names like “Root Canal”, ”White Knuckle” and “Stone Soup” help define what extreme riding is all about - beginners to the advanced trail riders, can experience a thrill at every turn. 

People cross country skiing on a scenic, snow covered forest trail.

In the winter Nine Mile Forest is transformed into one of the premier cross-country ski parks in the Great Lake States with daily PistenBully grooming on 20 miles of trails. Cross-country skiers may stride or skate over a variety of terrain with loops suitable for the novice to expert skier. With lighted trails, a whole new dimension of cross-country skiing is opened up. Snowshoers may choose one of the four marked loops from 4 km to 10 km or explore off trail.

Action shot of a snowboarder in the air.

Granite Peak Ski and Snowboard Park

Granite Peak is the epicenter of downhill skiing in the upper Midwest.  With over 72 runs, terrain parks, and glade skiing that offers challenges to the beginner to the advance skier or snowboarder.  Night skiing opens a whole new world for the skier or boarder and the panoramic view of Wausau from the top of the mountain is breathtaking.

You’ll not find a taller mountain in the Midwest, that offers more    runs, more high-speed chairlifts, or has a new base village.

Back view of a red kayaker riding down some whitewater rapids.

Wausau Whitewater Park

For over 40 years, Wausau has been one of the hot beds for whitewater kayaking and canoeing enthusiast throughout the upper Midwest.  The course runs through the heart of the city and has help defined what Wausau is as an extreme sports town.  This whitewater hell will keep your heart pounding and adrenaline driving as it dumps you into the cool waters of Lake Wausau.

Glacial rock formations seen on the Ice Age Trail at the Eau Claire Dells.

Ice Age Trail & Dells of the Eau Claire

From spring thaw kayaking and canoeing to backpacking in the heart of Wisconsin. The Ice Age Trail winds for more than 1,000 miles, following the edge of the last continental glacier in Wisconsin.  One of only 11 National Scenic Trails, the Ice Age Trail is intended to be a premier hiking trail for outdoor enthusiasts from across the nation. The trail traverses some of Wisconsin’s most scenic landscapes and helps tell the story of the last Ice Age by highlighting Wisconsin's unique glacial features.

Close-up of a person’s legs and feet as they snowshoe.

The Dells of the Eau Claire County Park offers a unique winter venue for snowshoeing around frozen waterfalls and tough terrain that will challenge the most seasoned snowshoer.  A rush for the adrenaline seeking whitewater kayaker or canoer is to attack the Eau Claire River at spring thaw when water is high and fast. 

A happy family rides their mountain bikes together on a dirt trail in the woods

Mountain-Bay Bike State Trail

The Mountain-Bay State Trail travels for 83 miles between the two geologic features it is named for; Rib Mountain and Green Bay. On the western end, the trail ends in Weston, just east of Wausau. On the eastern end, the trail ends at Howard Memorial Park near the city of Green Bay.

The trail is ideal for biking, giving the pleasure rider a glimpse into moraine, and the sweet smell of pine forest.