The Rustic Roads program was created about 40 years ago and allows hikers, bikers and motorists to enjoy the less traveled, scenic backroads of Wisconsin regardless of the season. These routes help to enhance the beauty and serenity that the state has to offer. There are approximately 119 individual routes that travel through 59 counties and when added up equal about 722 miles. It is important to point out that these routes do not connect to each other and some are quite a distance apart from each other; choose a county or location your going to visit and explore one small portion at a time.
Lets take a journey through Polk County that consists of six Rustic Road Routes. Regardless of where you begin in the county, you can make a circle out of the routes and end up back where you started as well as see the entire county and most of the towns that are located in it. To view all of the routes will take approximately four hours as most of these routes don't take you back to a major highway. Bring your GPS, if you are not familiar with the town layouts or backroads of Polk County.
The first route is Rustic Road Route 67 located in Turtle Lake and can be accessed from Highway 8 or Highway 63.
The section by Highway 8 is the most interesting part of the entire 4.6 drive. This portion is full of twists and turns, thick vegetation, large trees, swamps and a small lake.
The route opens up to rolling fields, homes and eventually a lake community. At the stop sign turn right to stay on the Rustic Road route, continue to the next stop sign and arrive at the end of the route and at Highway 63.
Head North on Highway 63 towards Cumberland and turn left on Highway 48 West, about a mile North of Cumberland. Highway 48 offers a lot of scenic views that include rolling hills, crops, woodland, old barns and farmlands as you twist and turn towards Luck. Before arriving in Luck, turn left on County Highway GG, travel back about one mile and look for the Rustic Road sign on the right and you have arrived at Route 93.
This route is a narrow dirt road with many hidden driveways and homes throughout the 2.8 mile drive. There are overgrown trees that seem to swallow the road and the views ahead as you climb and descend the small hills along the way. Very few openings allow you to seek the sky, the small streams through the forest and any wildlife that may call this place home. The route continues to curve around and straightens out and comes to an end on 145th Street.
Follow 145th Street and turn left at the stop sign. This will be County Highway N that will take you to Luck and follow the signs that point towards Highway 48 and 35S which lead to St. Croix. Sit back and enjoy the views of more farmland, old barns, and small towns.
Take Highway 8W to the turn off towards Dresser and to continue on Highway 35S. About a mile North of Dresser turn West on County Highway S and you have arrived at Route 101.
A paved route with some sharp bends in the road, open up to water views and a popular route for walkers on this 4.3 mile route. Vegetation is clean and trim on this route allowing you to see the sky, vast trees and open views into the woods that surround the road.
This route also welcomes hikers to the Osceola Loop which is part of the National Park Service and there are several areas to park and enjoy the area on foot.
The route continues to turn and curve and will bring you back out to Highway 35S.
Just outside of Osceola continue on 35S. Osceola is a small, quaint town with old buildings in the downtown area. It will also open up to countryside and offer more views of the farming communities of Wisconsin.
Continue on 35S and about a mile or so North of Somerset you will come across the Polk St.-Croix Rd and turn West. Drive about a mile back and Route 103 begins which offers both paved and dirt road along the 2.8 mile route.
The paved road offers twists and turns with vegetation pulled back to allow for views. The dirt road becomes narrow and more secluded as the trees hover over the road. The road continues on and eventually turns back to a paved road and brings you out to 40th Street.
Continue South towards Somerset and take 64E towards New Richmond.
Stay on this route until you reach Highway 65 N which leads to Star Prairie and Highway 8E. Turn East onto County Highway H and here marks the beginning of Route 28.
It is another paved route that opens up to low waters, swamps, thick vegetation and the loons and ducks that call this area their home. There are also homes and hidden driveways as you twist and turn along this 5.2 mile route which also includes some high hills and views of old barns.
Cross over Highway 46 to continue on the route and ends outside of Range on County Highway JJ. Head North and cross over Highway 8 onto County Road D to reach the final Rustic Route of Polk County.
After a couple of miles turn West onto 190th Ave the entrance to this Rustic Road route is not marked. Turn North on 70th Street which is a short distance away from 190th Avenue, there is also a faded “Hunky Dory” sign that marks the street. Head North and about a mile onto the route you will see a sign that says Rustic Road and you have arrived at Route 41.
This route is another dirt road that is full of thick vegetation, hidden driveways, and the sounds of birds are the only sounds that can be heard along this 2.3 mile route. A few hills but no curves, twists, or turns, it is a straight route that brings you out to open fields, farms and an endless view of Polk County.
The route ends on County Highway E, head South and the road turns into County Highway D which ends at Highway 8. From here the choice is yours, head West to reach St. Croix, or turn East to reach Turtle Lake and make the complete circle of the Rustic Road Polk County Routes.
These routes are unique, secluded, easy going and a must to drive during the Fall season. Take time to enjoy them and for more information please visit: http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/travel/road/rustic-roads/explore.aspx.
These scenic drives are broken down by county as most of them are not connected.
Videos are also available on YouTube.