History & Character of Justin Trails Resort
Born of necessity, Justin Trails Resort began in 1985 when Donna Justin, an avid cross-country skier, decided to create her own 10-mile cross-country ski trail system on the Justin Farm. The very same year, milk prices plummeted and dairy farmers Don and Donna Justin, with about 30 registered Holstein cows, needed to find a new way to make a living. Don has lived on the Justin Farm since he was two weeks old (he is now 80 years old) and they wanted to continue living on their land.
They attended a conference put on by Willy Nelson and learned that “tourism” could help them utilize their land in a new way. They decided to open a room in their home as a Bed and Breakfast. They applied for a conditional use permit, teamed up with other Bed and Breakfasts to create a brochure, and opened as “Justin Trails Bed and Breakfast” in 1986. Located just 6 miles from the Elroy-Sparta State Bike Trail, Justin Trails Bed and Breakfast attracted bicycling enthusiasts who came to ride the very first rails-to-trails bicycle trail in the USA. The first year they rented 100 rooms!
Soon they opened another room in their home as a Bed and Breakfast then they attended another conference and learned that men especially did not want to stay in someone’s home. They would much rather stay in a separate building and a log cabin would be perfect. Don and Donna purchased a 250 square foot Scandinavian Scribe log cabin created off-site then reconstructed on their property. Scandinavian Scribe is a process where logs are scribed then cut lengthwise with a chainsaw to fit perfectly one on top of the other with no nails or glue creating a very sturdy dwelling. Guests named this log cabin “Little House on the Prairie” because it reminded them of the cabin on the TV show.
Guests started asking if they would build a larger log cabin so they could bring their families. Don and Donna enlisted a class who wanted to learn how to build a Scandinavian Scribe log cabin. They peeled Aspen logs harvested from the Justin Farm and cut them in the Scandinavian Scribe style to create a two-story 1,000 square foot log cabin. Guests gave the cabin the name “Paul Bunyan” because of the enormous size of the logs. “Paul Bunyan” sleeps 6 has two bathrooms with showers, a double whirlpool, a fireplace, a porch, a balcony, and a full kitchen. You could live in “Paul Bunyan.”
Over the years, many of the buildings on the Justin Farm have been renovated: the granary and chicken coop have become lodging, the machine shed became “The Lodge” where breakfast is served to guests daily from 7:30 – 10:00 and the barn is now The Elegant Barn, for weddings and events.
The name changed from “Justin Trails Bed and Breakfast” to “Justin Trails Resort” because there are so many things guests can do outdoors on the 200-acre property: 2 championship disc golf courses, 10+ miles of grass-covered dog-friendly walking trails, several sledding hills, snowshoe trails, fat tire bike trails, and skijoring. There are also two pet llamas Dusty and Rusty who love to be fed treats right out of your hand!
Justin Trails Resort is nestled in a quiet, peaceful, hilly coulee near Sparta, Wisconsin, and offers guests a relaxed, dog-friendly country getaway in the heart of Wisconsin’s Driftless Region. The Resort is located 30 miles East of La Crosse, 13 miles South of Fort McCoy, 5 miles South of I-90 Sparta Exit 25, and 6 miles from the Elroy-Sparta State Bike Trail. (see map) Justin Trails Resort is open daily 10:00 – 5:00 for outdoor fun with a $5 Trail Pass to use trails and disc golf courses (included when guests stay overnight).