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Connecting Waupaca and beyond

Greater Waupaca Area Parks and Trails just finished the Masakaew Trail and are now working on the Waupa-Wega Trail that connects Waupaca and Weyauwega. James Card

Group blazing bike trails

By James Card

A project is in the works to create a biking trail that connects the city of Waupaca and the city of Weyauwega in a loop.

The country back roads that compose the trail are selected for their scenic beauty and low traffic.

The group behind this is the Greater Waupaca Area Parks and Trails, a small collective of volunteers wo identify, map and post trail routes for walking, biking and in the future, paddling.

They started in 2018 in the town of Dayton and later they decided to expand their trail blazing to include the towns of Dayton, Lind, Farmington, Waupaca and the city of Waupaca.

Their logo is a quartered square and each of the red, blue, green and yellow smaller squares represents each township with a small back oval in the center representing the city of Waupaca.

Haasch attended a Lunch-and-Learn discussion at the Waupaca Area Public Library. The guest was Laura Colbert, director of Waupaca’s Parks and recreation Department.

“We wanted to find out what people wanted. You know what came out on top? Bike routes,” Haasch said.

“I get phone calls asking where good routes are or where people can take their family,” said Scott Rusch, another volunteer.

The difficulty in establishing a trail is more difficult that anyone would think. Volunteer Jane Haasch described their work as “uninvited consultants,” in that they figure out the proposed trails and then they must get government officials on board with the plan.

“We go around to all of the townships first to get their OK to pass through their townships,” said Haasch.

The signs must approve by the county greenways committee and must be uniform throughout Waupaca County. Then they work with county highway personnel to place the signs, along with calling the Digger’s Hotline.

The Menominee-named Masakaew Trail is a 29-mile route that starts at Rotary Riverview Park then leads to Ogdensburg on the Tomorrow River Trail to Scandinavia and winds back to Waupaca. It was completed in 2023.

The trail is sign posted at every intersection: no maps, no GPS, no smartphone required. One only has to follow the signs.

“On the Tomorrow River Trail you have to buy a $5 pass but they [state of Wisconsin] OK’d us to use the trail without a pass,” said Rusch.

Their newest project is the Waupa-Wega Trail. It will start at the River Ridge Trail near Fox Valley Technical College, then via a trail under the Highway 22 bridge, up to Eco Park and then it loops through back roads into Weyauwega where it is expected to end up at Stevenson Park, home to Weyauwega’s mural silo and then another loop back to Waupaca.

“And that could be the starting point for those in Weyauwega. That route is 20 miles. You’ll do half of it south of the [Waupaca] river and the other half north of the river,” Rusch said.

The Trishaw Project is another project they are working on. A trishaw is powered by pedaling and a supplemental electric motor. The biker sits in the rear and in front is a seat that could hold one adult or a couple of children. The electric assist gives the biker a boost when pushing the trishaw uphill.

For the past two years the group has kept at booth at the Waupaca Farmers Market and it’s been a good way to make connections and provide information about their work.

The group belongs to the Wisconsin Bike Federation and they brought a couple trishaws to the farmer’s market and it garnered a lot of interest. Their goal is to raise money to purchase a trishaw to provide rides to children unable to ride a bike, along with providing rides to the elderly in local nursing homes and to the vets at the Wisconsin Veterans Home. There would be volunteer bikers and people would sign up for rides. We would have a day where people would sign up for a time slot,” said Rusch.

Maps and information about the routes can be found at the Greater Waupaca Area Parks and Trails website, www.gwapt.org.

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