What’s your preferred bike trail surface: Gravel or pavement?

WPR's 'The Morning Show' wants to know what you think.

two women on bikes on a sidewalk as others bike and run in the opposite direction
Bicyclists and runners take advantage of a sunny afternoon Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, in Madison. Angela Major/WPR

On Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Morning Show,” we recently asked two bike trail managers to weigh in on a common debate: Gravel or pavement?

Chris James, a senior landscape architect for Dane County, placed himself “hands down” on team pavement.

“One, it’s much easier to maintain. We find we can get about 10 years out of a pavement trail before it has to be resurfaced,” James said. “Gravel trails tend to wash out more. They have vegetation that tries to encroach. And I think the riders and the walkers and the joggers just prefer the pavement, because it’s a much more uniform and constant surface.”

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But Joel Lemke, board president of the Green Circle Trail in Stevens Point, came to team gravel’s defense.

“We’ve got pretty sandy soils around here. So the water doesn’t tend to be too big of an issue. But where it is, we use more of a limestone than the gravel to make sure it doesn’t wash out,” Lemke said. “We just find that it provides a good alternative. You feel a little more off the beaten path, if you will, on a surface like that.”

Most of the Green Circle Trail is gravel. Sections traveling through parks or streets are often paved. Lemke said both surfaces do a good job.

“The Morning Show” wants to know what you think. Do you prefer pavement or gravel surface trails? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below or email ideas@wpr.org.

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