The Rustic Roads program was created about 40 years ago and allows hikers, bikers, and motorists to enjoy the less traveled, scenic back roads 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. Also, markings are limited and usually only one-way and regardless of what the website says, most of these routes don't end near a major city or road with limited GPS signals. Be sure to print out the map from the website and take with you to help navigate you along the way.
These Rustic Roads will take us across Pierce County, Wisconsin. The first route will be route 51 which is located outside of Maiden Rock.
This is not an easy route to get to or travel on once you find it. There is only one sign that indicates where the route is and that doesn't show up until you are at the road. Once on it, you are on your own to navigate the route which has no further markings along the way. Hopefully, I'll be able to guide you along the way so you won't have to make several wrong turns to enjoy the route.
First, we need to get to the route, head towards Elmwood and take 72 towards Waverly/Ellsworth. Waverly is a town with no sign indicating that you have arrived. Route 72 is basically all hills, fields, crops, and farms and eventually, there is a cluster of buildings and that is Waverly. Turn onto County Road CC and follow it all the way to the end. Turn left to continue on County Road CC and follow around to Willow Road which is on the right as well as the only Rustic Roads sign for this approximately 4-mile gavel route.
A few homes line the beginning of the route before giving way to large fields and a winding road. The route continues on to more fields, a few farms, and rolling hills before coming to a sharp turn to the right and a slightly steep hill, once over this hill begin looking on your left for a 'Y' turn that is only marked by a stop sign. Turn left here, if you reach a stop sign you have gone too far. Continue on this unmarked, unnamed road which continues to be lined with fields, farms, rolling hills and trees begin to get thicker.
This road will come to an end at a stop sign, turn right and continue along the route which runs parallel with North Branch Pine Creek. This part of the route is the nicest as it twists and turns offering views of the water flowing along side, thick marsh, high hills and high trees. A few more twists and you have reached the end of the route at County Road AA. Turn right and then left at the next intersection which leads you back to Highway 35.
Once again route 51 is not marked and GPS is limited, bring along the maps from the website, which will be posted below, to help navigate you along the way. Road closures, dead ends and private properties are also common along this route and to avoid tricky turnarounds be aware, take your time and use the map.
The final route in Pierce County is route 92 which is located outside of River Falls.
Turn right on to Highway 35 and head towards Prescott. This route is also known as the Boat River Route as it follows the Mississippi River all the way to Prescott, along with the railroad track the is between the road and the river.
Great views and quaint towns are found all along the way. Take 35 through Prescott and make note of the large railroad bridge on the left which crosses over the union of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers. Look beyond the bridge and you are now looking at Minnesota.
Once through Prescott turn onto Highway 29 towards River Falls which turns into 29/35 and follow until you see the Rustic Road Route on your right, across from County Road FF.
Route 92 can be described as residential and not much nature scenery. The majority of the route is lined by homes close to the road with an occasional field and farm along the way. A few minor twists and turns and there is a small section of woods and seclusion before returning to the homes. One last straightaway with an open field and the route has come to an end at County Road O.
Turn left on County Road O which will arrive at Highway 65, turn left again and follow it to Interstate 94. Enjoy the college town of River Falls as you make your way towards Interstate 94 which offers nice homes and shopping along the way. Head West on 94 to go towards Hudson or East and head towards Baldwin. The choice is yours!
For more information about this route and other routes please visit:http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/travel/road/rustic-roads/maps.aspx
These scenic drives are broken down by county as most of them are not connected.
Videos are also available on YouTube.