The 22-mile La Crosse River State Trail has been developed from the abandoned Chicago and Northwestern Railroad between Sparta and La Crosse. The trail is open to walkers and bicyclists in spring through fall and snowmobiles in winter. Packed-limestone screenings provide a smooth surface for bicycling. Mileage markers are posted every half mile on the 7-mile section between La Crosse and West Salem.
This trail lies in the La Crosse River valley and parallels an active rail line to the north. Prairie remnants, farmland, trout streams, hardwood forests and wetlands are found along the trail. The trail passes through the communities of La Crosse, West Salem, Bangor, Rockland and Sparta.
The La Crosse River State Trail is directly linked to two other state trails. A bridge over Interstate 90 in Sparta connects the La Crosse River State Trail to the Elroy-Sparta State Trail on the east end and the Great River State Trail connects to the trail in La Crosse on the west end.