Gandy Dancer Trail

 

 History

This 98-mile recreational trail follows the old Minneapolis, St. Paul and Sault Ste. Marie railroad grade from St. Croix Falls north to Superior.  This grade was commercially used for approximately 100 years starting in the late 1880s.  Upon abandonment, part of the corridor was purchased by Burnett County and the State of Wisconsin for use as a recreational trail.

Railroad history is remembered in the name "Gandy Dancer."  Hand crews, who built and maintained the tracks, used railroad tools manufactured by the Chicago-based Gandy Tool Company.  Often the crews used vocal and mechanical cadences to synchronize the swinging of their hand tools or the movement of their feet.  Hence the name "Gandy Dancer" reminds us of the past crews who built the railroads.

 Polk County

The trail begins at St. Croix Falls and passes through Centuria, Milltown, Luck, Frederic and Lewis.  The short distances between these towns makes the Gandy Dancer Trail the most user friendly trail in the Midwest with easy access for food, lodging, parking and other areas to explore.  The Polk County Information Center in St. Croix Falls offers information on the many attractions along the Trail as well as in the County.  Visit the restored railroad depot and area museum in Frederic or include a side trip to the Interstate Park along the St. Croix River.

 General Trail Information

The 98-mile recreation trail follows the railroad grade from St. Croix Falls north to Superior.  Recreational use on the Trail is divided by geographic location: south half and north half.  The south trail segment extends 47 miles from St. Croix Falls to Danbury, paralleling Hwy. 35 most of the distance.  This segment was surfaced with crushed limestone in 1995 and offers a smooth, hard surfaced trail with use limited to biking and hiking from April through November. A State Trail pass is required of all bicyclists 16 years of age or older riding the Gandy Dancer Trail between St. Croix Falls and Danbury. A Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Conservation Patron license will be honored as a bike pass.


The north segment runs 51 miles from Danbury through eastern Minnesota to Superior.  The segment offers a wilder, more remote trail experience.  Hiking, mountain biking and ATV use is permitted.  No pass is needed to use the north section of the Trail, but ATVs must display valid registration.

The south segment extends 47 miles from St. Croix Falls to Danbury. As of January 27, 2017 this segment in Polk County will open for frozen ground ATV/UTV use.  Please stay off side trails, as they are NOT open to ATV/UTV's. " All ATV/UTV's are required to be registered in Wisconsin. Public use registration allows operation on any areas open to public riding, frozen surface of any waterways and on private property with landowner permission. An ATV or UTV operated on a public trail or corridor needs to display valid Wisconsin Public Use registration or needs to display a valid Nonresident ATV or UTV Trail Pass."   - WI-DNR

 Distances

Mileage between towns along the Gandy Dancer Trail are as follows. 

 St. Croix Falls to Centuria  4.5 Miles
 Centuria to Milltown  6.2 Miles
 Milltown to Luck  3.7 Miles
 Luck to Frederic  6.1 Miles
 Frederic to Lewis  5.4 Miles
 Lewis to Siren  5.7 Miles
 Siren to Webster  6.6 Miles
 Webster to Danbury  8.9 Miles


The entire Gandy Dancer Trail is marked with mile post signs.

 Facilities

FACILITIES  Parking  Shelter/Picnic Area  Campground Restroom 
Polk County Tourism Center                   YES  NO  NO  YES 
Centuria Village Park  YES   YES   NO  YES 
Milltown Village Park  YES  YES   NO  YES 
Luck Village Park  YES  YES   NO  YES 
Frederic Depot  YES  YES   NO  YES 
Coon Lake Park  YES  YES   NO  YES 
Interstate State Park  YES  YES   YES  YES 

 

 









 

 Pass Information

A Wisconsin State Trail Pass is required of all bicyclists 16 years of age or older riding the Trail between St. Croix Falls and Danbury.  A Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Conservation Patron license will be honored as a bike pass.  Trail passes must be visibly displayed when using the Trail.  A pass is not needed for hiking.  Handicapped/disabled persons in wheel chairs do not need a pass. 

Trail passes are available at the Polk and Burnett County Tourism Centers and from business vendors located in communities along the Trail.  Pass fees are $5 for a daily pass and $25 for an annual pass. 

Trail passes are issued to individuals, not bikes.  As such trail passes cannot be passed from person to person or shared with others. 

  The Stower Seven Lakes Trail

Is a 14 mile State Trail between Lotus Lake (Dresser) to Amery. The trail winds near 7 lakes and passes farmlands, woods, and glacial topography. There is an abundance of wildlife and natural beauty, with many birding opportunities.  A state trail pass is required for users 16 and over for biking and cross country skiing. In the winter you may also enjoy snowshoeing the beautiful trail. 

This trail is maintained and groomed by the Friends of Stower Seven Lakes State Trail. Questions please call Polk County Parks at 715-483-9294 or email at stower7lakesstatetrail@gmail.com.