The Best Off-Road Trails in Wisconsin for Jeeps and 4x4s

Wisconsin off-road Jeep trails

Wisconsin isn’t exactly known for its off-roading opportunities, at least not to fans of the road-legal OHV scene. While there’s an abundance of ATV and motorbike trails, Jeep trails are hard to come by in Wisconsin, leaving off-roading enthusiasts with little room to strut their stuff.

However, Wisconsin is also home to some of the most beautiful expanses in the Midwest, featuring lush forests, lakes, and winding dirt roads that most Jeep enthusiasts seek.

*WARNING: Before you go out on any trails, please read through my list of essentials here. I could save your life!

If you’re looking for trails with unbelievable natural beauty and scenery, let me share with your four of the best Wisconsin Jeep trails you won’t want to miss out on!

Best Off-Road Jeep Trails in Wisconsin

  1. Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail
  2. Embarrass River OHV Park
  3. Dresser OHV Trail
  4. Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

So which trail should you try out? Below are details on how to get to each trail along with a few of their highlights to help you decide which one is right for you.

Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail

The Trans Wisconsin Adventure Trail is a near 600-mile ride across the state, beginning at the Wisconsin-Illinois Border near Galena, and winding all the way up to Lake Superior. Adventurers can enjoy the scenic attractions that Northern Wisconsin has to offer on their way to the lake, taking advantage of the many camping spots, fishing spots, hikes, and forests along the way.

Considering all these attractions, Trans Wisconsin is easily the best trail to try out for people looking to see what Wisconsin itself has to offer, and that’s not just because it runs from one edge of the state to the other.

Trans Wisconsin was not developed and maintained as an official trail, but rather, traces its origins to travelers looking to find off-roading opportunities.

Featuring separate trails for UTV and full sized vehicles, the trail winds through dirt, gravel, and paved roads as it leads you through multiple river crossings. If you’re willing to take a little detour, you could even explore Wisconsin State Park to the fullest, and take a breather in a Nature Reserve.

The trail itself does not present many difficult obstacles, and you’ll find yourself rarely engaging 4WD, if ever.

In fact, almost all of the difficulty the trail might present depends upon seasonal factors, with some of the Forest Servicing Roads becoming a little narrow at some points in the year, and rains leading to some muddier patches, and inaccessible sections. However, mud is no enemy to the Jeep, and features that may be obstacles to some will be attractions to others.

All in all, Trans Wisconsin caters more to fans of the outdoors than it does to fans of off-roading. While there are some iffy stretches, the “trail” here is more just a route through some backroads and service roads, or at least it would feel that way to more experienced and thrill-seeking OHV enthusiasts.

But where it compromises on challenge, Trans Wisconsin more than delivers on the adventure front, showing off some of the best sights that Wisconsin has to offer. 

photo of the jeep trail in the Embarrass riverEmbarrass River OHV Park

The Embarrass River Campground and Park is home to roughly 500 acres of amazing terrain in Tigerton, WI. With some steep, rocky climbs and some deep, muddy trenches, Embarrass River Park is more akin to a typical OHV park than most of the other unofficial trails that Wisconsin Jeep trail-seekers often have to settle for.

There are several trails, all of which are marked and rated, and also accessible from multiple staging areas.

The Campground features primitive and conventional RV camping areas, complete with bathrooms with flush toilets and showers.

Visitors can plan out their trip according to the level of difficulty they feel comfortable tackling, as there are a variety of routes and trails running through the park and most of the more difficult obstacles can be avoided entirely via bypass.

While the trail has traditionally been open to all road-licensed vehicles, recent restrictions mean that full-sized trucks are no longer allowed.

Restrictions to the dimensions of the wheelbase and tires also apply, so be sure to check whether your vehicle fits the criteria before you set out.

Dresser OHV Trail

The Dresser trail, located within Trollhaugen Outdoor Recreational Park, is another one of the recent highlights of the Wisconsin Jeep scene.

Offering steep, treacherous climbs and descents, some undulating topography, some sandy sections, and a whole lot of mud, the Dresser trail houses some of the most difficult obstacles of the Wisconsin landscape. 

Just a short trek from the Minnesota border, the Dresser track is a relatively small but difficult and varied patch that features swampland and loose boulders as well as forested sections. The trails are just a small part of what Trollhaugen has to offer, with the area being known for its snowboarding and skiing attractions.

What this means for Jeep fans is that they’ll find no shortage of room for their Jeep to play around in the snow, and the park also hosts regular racing events throughout the year. Whether it’s snowing or sunny, you’ll find plenty to do in Dresser.

Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is a 1.5 million-acre state forest in Northeast Wisconsin. Home to most of the state’s major OHV trail systems and tracks, as well as a wide assortment of other recreational activities such as hunting, canoeing, kayaking, ice-skating, horseback riding, and more; the park is a great place to get in touch with the outdoors, and to put your Wrangler through the wringer. 

With more than eight trail systems within its vicinity, the challenge represented by The Chequamegon-Nicolet’s forests and hills varies heavily depending on what visitors wish to experience.

The majority of trails are rated, mapped, and marked to allow visitors easy access to obstacles and bypasses. Not all trails are friendly to beginners, however, and the more difficult ones would provide a hearty challenge to even the most seasoned Jeep trail veteran.

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is easily worth the trip as the heart of the scenic Wisconsin Northwoods. Home to the Pipeline in Lakewood, arguably the state’s most famous off-road point-to-point trail, as well as many other well-developed trail systems, the park, and its accompanying wilderness is definitely worth exploring at least once.

And with the long list of seasonal attractions to entertain visitors off the trails, as well as primitive and RV campgrounds throughout the countryside, a longer trip to the park might be just what you’re looking for this summer.

Final Thoughts

While I’ve talked at length about Wisconsin Jeep trails, the fact remains that attractions within the state are only part of what residents should have to look forward to.

With the Badlands and Cliff’s insane terrain just south of the border in Illinois, and Michigan right above, the given list is only a suggestion for where you should start your adventure and says nothing for where you could end up going.

Be sure to check out permit requirements, vehicle restrictions, and timings before you set out. Plan out the best route for your trip, according to what you and your potential companions are best suited for, and have a safe, fun trip!

Mark Anders

I love my Jeep and will share my years of knowledge with you here! Stay with me and read on!

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