A Race In The Bluffs – The Hixon Forest Epic

By Jamie Norton –

I was truly excited to have an opportunity to be able to attend and write about an endurance mountain bike race like no other in the heart of the Driftless Area at Hixon Forest in my hometown of La Crosse Wisconsin.  Just nestled in the bluffs of La Crosse, holds an eight hundred acre forest open to the public for off-road biking and hiking. With amazing views and the awe inspiring  surroundings of nature, you can’t go wrong.


The Hixon Forest Epic is a cross-country mountain bike race held in the Hixon Forest park. It overlooks the beautiful Mississippi River. Hixon Epic is the eighth race in the Wisconsin off-road series (WORS) held in August. WORS is a series of races held in Wisconsin for the Midwest mountain bike enthusiast.

A hot and humid morning was the start as racers came from all over the Midwest to compete in The Epic. On-site camping made it convenient for travelers and also for them to take part in the Saturday activities as in registration, practice, pump track, and the night ride through trails. And the community is always welcome! Sundays event started with the exciting to witness, Hixon Forest Frolic 5k. A fun race for the younger generations of racers to enjoy and prepare themselves for a future in off-road mountain bike racing.  This was followed by the junior classes, then the citizens, sport, elite and finally the comp races. There is a race class for everyone from young to old to novice and expert and even the weekend rider, which makes this sport great for the whole family to take part in.

You will feel completely welcomed at the Hixon Epic, as the comradery between racers and spectators is truly overwhelming to witness! In all honesty, it will make you feel like your at a giant family reunion.

I truly enjoyed spectating this event and being able to watch the children run around with ecstatic smiles on their faces and just the joy of being happy. For the adults, most would gather around the craft beer vendors sharing stories and advice about the race. As I took everything in, I especially felt the passion and determination of the race riders racing throughout the whole area, all the while smelling the sweet smoke coming from the barbecue trucks.

Moving in another direction, the Pump Track is a great hit to this event as it stayed busy all day! This is a great option for racers, and even spectators, to keep their legs warm to be ready to race, or even just to have fun. So bring your bike even if your not racing! (A pump track is a small course that consist of bumps, rollers, berms and jumps. It’s designed to pump and flow so pedaling is not needed). Hixon Forest Epic also has local vendors on site and information booths for maintenance, parts, and information needs. I was truly in a bicyclist enthusiast paradise.

But let’s get back to the race. What a great event to attend and compete in! The course is very challenging, and the elevation of hixon forest sits 890 feet above the Mississippi river.

But don’t take this course lightly as it will test even the most seasoned of racer. Strategy makes a huge part in this course, starting with a moderate prairie uphill into the straight aways, getting your legs heated up, preparing you for what’s to come. A speedy straight away right before you enter the breathtaking (literally) pines section as you creep further down into the valleys and into the under belly of the forest canopy, where you are going to face tight 180 degrees turns, rock beds, root structures, near passes with trees, and of course the long and ever so testing, demanding uphill climbs. And oh yeah, the ‘’elevation’’ while enduring all these obstacles that I have mentioned. The course is going to take you through some of the best endurance trails with the most beautiful scenery that the Driftless Area and the Wisconsin Off-Road Race Series (WORS) has to offer.

To me and to most that experience this race, the Hixon Forest Epic is the most challenging race in the WORS series. A must take if you’re a bicycle enthusiast.

This event was very well organized and a big thank you to everyone that was involved in making this happen for a bike enthusiast like myself! And of course the community to take part in such an awesome event. I look forward to being able to attend and or compete at the next Hixon Forest Epic and the following years to come.

When asked Robbie Young, the director of the hixon forest epic:

What would you credit the success of the Hixon Forest Epic to?

“I credit a great partnership with a city (LaCrosse) and a supportive community. Without these elements, a race of this quality would not be possible.

What do you see in the future of the Hixon Forest Epic?

“In the future, I look for more challenges in the WORS race course, and possibly the addition of other events throughout the year as we find new and creative ways to showcase our amazing trail network.”

Visit Website HERE