5 Rustic Wisconsin Roads to Explore for Autumnal Awesomeness

Tom Giffey

1. RUSTIC ROAD 6 (CHIPPEWA CO.)

Over the past 45 years, 120 particularly beautiful Wisconsin country roads have been officially designated Rustic Roads by the state Department of Transportation. One of the first of these is Rustic Road 6 in northeastern Chippewa County. Otherwise known as County Road E, the road runs from the junction of Highway 64 (west of Cornell) north 13.3 miles to the Rusk County line. According to the DOT’s Rustic Roads guidebook, the road follows part of the old Flambeau Trail, which was used by the region’s earliest travelers, and winds its way through county forests and the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve.

2. RUSTIC ROAD 45 (EAU CLAIRE CO.)

The only officially designated Rustic Road in Eau Claire County, this 2.7-mile stretch of gravel is otherwise known as Goat Ranch Road, which runs between Coon Fork County Park and County Highway H. Keep your eyes peeled for deer and other wildlife as you navigate your way through the shady depths of the Eau Claire County Forest.

3. RUSTIC ROAD 89 (DUNN CO.)

Beginning at the edge of the city of Menomonie, Rustic Road 89 follows 410th and 420th streets between County Highway P and 370th Avenue. The 4.7-mile paved route traverses the bluffs and runs parallel to the Red Cedar Trail and the Red Cedar River just to the east. Along the road, stop to see the Devil’s Punchbowl, an amazing, water-carved canyon that you can explore on foot. (Bring sturdy footwear!)

4. RUSTIC ROAD 107 (DUNN CO.)

About 14 miles south of Menomonie in the town of Peru is Rustic Road 107, a 6.7-mile paved and gravel route that meanders along 160th Avenue, 650th Street, and 50th Avenue between County Highway O and County Highway M. According to the guidebook, this route features “wooded areas with canopies over the road that open up to meadows and picturesque views,” including plenty of wetlands. The road follows the Chippewa River and is twice crossed by the Chippewa River State Trail. 

5. RUSTIC ROAD 76 (CLARK CO.)

Expect to see plenty of wild creatures – from white-tailed deer to sandhill cranes – as you zigzag through the Clark County Forest near Neillsville. This route follows parts of Columbia Avenue, Middle Road, Fisher Avenue, Sand Road, and Bruce Mound Avenue between U.S. Highway 10 and County Highway B. According to the guidebook, you’ll see an abandoned trestle bridge over Wedges Creek and the Lone Grave Marker – “the last remaining evidence of the community of Columbia, which dates back to the 1880s.”

To learn more about these and other Rustic Roads around the state, visit wisconsindot.gov/rusticroads

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