FAQ

Green Circle Trailhead kiosk on the University Trail
Green Circle Trailhead kiosk on the University Trail

What is the Green Circle?
The Green Circle is a 27-mile recreational trail. It is thought to be the only trail system in the country to encircle a community, according to National Park officials. Popular among local hikers and bikers, it is a destination for visitors throughout central Wisconsin and beyond.  A circle of cooperation among communities, corporations, private land owners and individuals inspired to create a nature trail around the Stevens Point urban area led what has become The Green Circle.

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Can I walk my dog or other pet?
Pets are allowed on all segments of the trail, except the University Trail through Schmeeckle Reserve; an alternative route is available along North Point Drive to bypass this section. Pets are allowed in City of Stevens Point and Village of Whiting parks, but not in Village of Plover parks. Dogs must be kept on leashes no longer than 8 feet and should be managed in a way that poses no threat to other trail users or wildlife. Please clean up after your pet.

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How long is the Green Circle?
The total length of the official Green Circle is 27.1 miles. This includes all 12 sections of the hiking/biking main trail, including the Westside Loop (2.4 miles), an alternative to a portion of the River Pines segment. Without the Westside Loop, the trail is 24.7 miles. The Green Circle connects with several trail spurs that can expand the possible routes: Hoover Road Trail Spur (4.5 miles), Heartland Trail Spur (2.8 miles), Stevens Point Sculpture Park trail (0.4 mile), and Schmeeckle Reserve trails (3.2 miles). It also connects to the Tomorrow River State Trail, a 29-mile railroad corridor trail that travels from Plover to Manawa.

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What will I see?
For miles, the Green Circle follows the scenic Wisconsin and Plover Rivers, which are historically significant to the lumber-making pioneer roots of the region. The trail meanders through forests, prairies, wetlands, meadows, and quiet neighborhoods, providing excellent opportunities to observe wildlife and wildflowers.  The Green Circle links together several parks and natural areas: Pfiffner Pioneer, Bukolt, Zenoff, Yulga, Iverson, Plover River, and West River Parks in the City of Stevens Point; Upper Whiting Park in the Village of Whiting; Little Plover River, Worzella Pines, and Lake Pacawa Parks in the Village of Plover; and Schmeeckle Reserve on the UW-Stevens Point campus. It also travels through wooded lands owned by paper mill companies, Sentry Insurance, and private landowners.

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What is the most scenic portion?
This depends on your definition of scenic. To follow the Wisconsin River, take the Riverfront and Stage Coach segments to the north, the River Pines and Paper Mill trails to the south. For views of the Plover River, take the Paper Mill, McDill, Whiting Park, Iverson Park and Plover River segments. Most of these segments include wooded areas. Some is paved, and much is crushed granite or mulch.

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Where can I get a map?
You can download a map from this website. Or pick up a free brochure when you’re in Stevens Point at the following locations: Schmeeckle Reserve Visitors Center (2419 North Point Drive); the Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (340 Division Street North); the Stevens Point Parks and Recreation Department (2442 Sims Avenue); and Portage County Parks office (1903 County Road Y). Free parking and additional information also are available.

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What are the hours?
The trail is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., except for the University Trail through Schmeeckle Reserve, which opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. The trail is not lighted, so use during daylight hours is strongly advised.

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Where can I park?
Numerous parking areas are available for free along the route, including along the riverfront in downtown and parks along the route in Stevens Point, Whiting, and Plover. See map for details. If you want to pick up a map or ask questions, the Schmeeckle Reserve Visitor Center (2419 North Point Drive) is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. It also offers free parking for Green Circle trail users from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

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Where are restrooms?
Public restrooms are available year-round at the Schmeeckle Reserve Visitor Center (open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily). From the first weekend in May through the second weekend in October, restrooms are also available from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Bukolt and Pfiffner Pioneer Parks (Riverfront Trail), Iverson Park (Iverson Park Trail), and Little Plover River and Worzella Pines Parks (Hoover Road Trail). A porta potty is available seasonally at Yulga Park (Moses Creek Trail).

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Is there water and food available along the trail?
Drinking water is available year-round at the Schmeeckle Reserve Visitor Center (open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily). From the first weekend in May through the second weekend in October, water is also available at Bukolt and Pfiffner Pioneer Parks (Riverfront Trail), Zenoff Park (Brickyard Trail), Iverson Park (Iverson Park Trail), and Little Plover River and Worzella Pines Parks (Hoover Road Trail).

Several restaurants can be found in downtown Stevens Point near the intersection of the Riverfront Trail and the River Pines Trail, especially along Main and Clark Streets. Several more restaurants, gas stations, and a grocery store can be found along Business 51 south of the intersection of the Brickyard Trail and University Trail. A few restaurants and gas stations are located where the Iverson Park Trail crosses Highway 66.

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Is the trail wheelchair accessible? Can I use a motorized wheelchair?
The Riverfront Trail, the Hoover Road Trail Spur, and the Heartland Trail Spur are paved with asphalt and accessible to wheelchairs. Most of the other trail sections are surfaced with crushed granite, which is considered wheelchair accessible when dry and packed down. Wheelchair use is not recommended in early spring or after rainstorms, as the granite surface gets soft. A few steep hills on the Plover River Trail, the Paper Mill Trail, and the McDill Trail do not meet the grade requirements of ADA. People with mobility impairments may use motorized wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices on the Green Circle.

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Is there a fee to use the trail?
No, but donations are welcome to help maintain the Green Circle. Consider joining hundreds of individuals who value this terrific resource. Support trail construction and improvements, land purchases, and ongoing maintenance with an annual gift. Click here for more information about donating.

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Can I rent bicycles along the Green Circle?
Nature Treks is a local company that offers bicycle rentals. Their rental site is conveniently located in Iverson Park near the Green Circle Trail. Click here for more information.

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What is that teepee-looking structure off Business 51?
This is the trailhead for the Green Circle located just west of Schmeeckle Reserve. The shelter has a picnic table, maps, and other information about the trail. The teepee design was inspired by a structure at a historic site in western Minnesota that protected petroglyphs.  It is intended to attract attention — and visitors. Designed by Revelation Architects-Builders of Stevens Point, the construction supervisor, Stan Schmeeckle, is the grandson of Fred Schmeeckle, for whom Schmeeckle Reserve is named.

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How many people use the trail?
Over 100,000 people use the Green Circle each year, based on data gathered from several counters that are installed along the trail. According to visitor research conducted by UW-Stevens Point Forest Recreation students (2015), on average 72% of people bicycle, 17% walk, and 10% run.

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Can I bike the entire trail?
Yes, all 12 sections of the Green Circle are accessible to bikes. Most of the trail is surfaced with crushed granite, so an off-road or hybrid bicycle is recommended. The Green Circle connects with several other trails that allow biking.

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Can I do a portion of the trail?
Certainly – but you may need transportation between two points. Or reverse your walk or bicycle route. Use the map to determine other street routes to make a loop.

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During winter, where can I cross-country ski, snowshoe, or snow bike?
Designated groomed ski trails (classic-style) are available at the Plover River ski trails (6.2 miles) and Iverson Park (2.4 miles). They are free to use. Snowshoeing, snow biking, and winter hiking are allowed on all segments except for the designated ski trails.

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Are any trail sections plowed in the winter?
Sections of the trail that follow sidewalks and roads, such as the Stagecoach Trail, are plowed by the municipalities. Actual paved trail segments that are plowed on a somewhat regular basis include the Heartland Trail (Patch St. to the east side of I-39), Hoover Trail (follows Hoover Ave.), and a path along County R (Old Hwy. 18 South to County HH).

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Can I use fat bikes on the trail?
When snow is on the ground, fat bikes are allowed on all sections except for the Plover River segment and through Iverson Park, where the trail is groomed for cross-country skiing. At other times of the year, fat bikes are allowed on all segments of the trail. Please note that the same rules apply to fat bikes as they do to all other bicycles (yield to pedestrians, no reckless riding, warn others and pass on the left).

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What safety information should I know?
The Green Circle trail is safe for individuals and groups. The trail is maintained by Portage County Parks staff, with assistance from Stevens Point Parks and Schmeeckle Reserve staff. County Parks staff and Stevens Point police patrol the trail periodically.

Follow these common-sense tips for all trail use:

  • Know the nearest safe spots (public areas)
  • Tell a friend or family member where you’re heading
  • Watch for sudden movements
  • Walk/run/bike with one or several buddies, or with a dog
  • Avoid walking or running after dark
  • Carry a flashlight
  • Wear light-colored clothes
  • Carry a cell phone—if you sense danger, leave the area or call a friend and describe your whereabouts
  • Do not use headphones

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What should I do if I see a limb down or other safety concern?
Contact us to report trail obstructions or other safety concerns. During the week, you may also call the Portage County Parks Department, 715-346-1433. On weekends, call Schmeeckle Reserve at 715-346-4992. In case of an emergency, dial 9-1-1.

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What are the rules of the Green Circle Trail?
For the safety and enjoyment of all Green Circle users, please follow these rules:

  • All users keep right
  • Bikers yield to pedestrians
  • Warn others, pass on left
  • Maximum speed is 12 mph
  • No motorized vehicles
  • No reckless riding
  • Pets on 8-foot leash maximum
  • Keep trails clean
  • Do not carry weapons

These rules are enforceable by city and county ordinances. The fine for violating city ordinances is $125.90; for county violations, it is $217.50.

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How can I help support the trail?
Since no user fees are charged for the Green Circle, a major source of funding comes from donations. Your financial gift helps to support trail construction and improvements, land purchases, and ongoing maintenance. Please consider donating to the Green Circle. Click here for more information about donating.

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Can I sponsor a memorial bench along the trail?
The Green Circle does not have a memorial bench program. The trail already has a sufficient number of benches for resting. Trail organizers strive to maintain the natural character of the trail. Because much of the trail is on land owned by private parties or municipalities, the Green Circle Board has no authority to construct non-trail improvements. We encourage you to instead consider a monetary donation to the trail, which will be used where most needed. For more information, please visit the Donations page.

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Can I hold an organized event on the Green Circle, such as a walk or run?
Organized events on the trail are only allowed with the written permission of the Portage County Parks Director, who can be contacted at (715) 346-1433 or parks@co.portage.wi.us. Per the Portage County Green Circle ordinance (6.3.7), “No person may conduct or participate in an assembly or public demonstration, except with written permission of the Portage County Parks Director or his designee. This includes such organized events as walks and runs for various non-commercial and civic purposes.”

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