MTB Trail Review: Raven Trail

Every fall I make a trek to Minocqua, WI to spend a weekend with good friends.  One of our comrades has a family cabin we’ve been using right on one of the many Minocqua lakes.  Fall is such a beautiful time to visit the cabin because it’s a much different perspective than the typical summer weekend jaunt to the lake everyone and their sister seems to make in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  I’ve been making the trip for six years now, and each time is uniquely different from the last yet still familiar.  This time, my friend Tim and I decided to bring our bikes and check out a local trail that was pretty close.  A quick Google search (thanks Tim) led us to Raven Trail just outside of Woodruff.

Although Tim is an avid road cyclist, he’s never ridden trails before.  So, to make this idea a reality, he borrowed a bike from a friend of his.  The bike is….well….a good mountain bike for the city.  It was small, no suspension, poor components, and small.  But hey, anything to get  you out, right?

Tim, triumphant

The Raven trails are short but they’re fantastic, if you know where you’re going.  We didn’t, so they were just o.k.  Most of the singletrack is either around or on top of existing cross-country ski trails, and the mountain bike specific trails aren’t that well marked.  We started out just fine, but one way or another ended up riding XC trails which is where we pretty much stayed.  One of the red trails was fun for me, but was a bit of a bear for the Tim because of the type of bike he had.  Overall the trails were good, but since they were poorly marked, were limited to the more obvious XC trails.

Closed access
Now we're talkin

In the parking lot there is a trail that goes to a skills area.  Skills areas are absolutely not my forte, but I’m willing to try anything.  So I checked it out while Tim ran behind in his trail shoes.  This was the highlight of the ride for me.  There were quite a few obstacles, bridges, jumps, balance beams, and teeter-totters and no one else was there.  I had very mixed success, but it was fun nonetheless.

When we got back to the parking lot, we met a local guy who swore Raven Trail was the crown jewel of Northern Wisconsin mountain biking.  I haven’t ridden enough in the badger state to gauge how accurate that statement is, but if it’s true, then he really needs to go to Cuyuna.  Next year, I’d love to go back with better navigation of the trails.

And a better bike for Tim.