2020 Economic Impact and User Experience Survey Summary

View and download the entire 2020 Study.

Executive Summary

The Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) project consisted of two surveys and this report is split into the following parts:

  • Part I summarizes the findings of an intercept survey that gathered demographic information about CAMBA trail users, their biking practices and, if they were not from Bayfield or Sawyer Counties, the amount of money they expected to spend during their trip to the CAMBA trails.
  • Part II summarizes the findings of an online survey that also gathered some basic demographic information about the respondents, more detailed information about their biking habits, their experiences and assessment of the CAMBA trails, their trail preferences and their comments about the CAMBA trails.

Part I Summary

Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association Survey Respondents’ Demographic Profile

  • More men (66% of the sample) were interviewed than women (33%) (Figure 1-1
  • A majority (56%) were 45 or older (Figure 1-2)
  • Approximately eight in ten respondents had at least a bachelor’s degree (Figure 1-3)
  • 61% of respondents had six-figure household incomes (Figure 1-4).
  • Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents reside outside of Sawyer and Bayfield Counties (Map 1).

In this summary, the SRC will report the median values, but the full report provides the average, median and range.

Riding Experiences

  • Median number of days/year that CAMBA riders travel away from their home to bike is 15 (Figure 1-5).
  • Median spending on cycling by CAMBA riders is $1,000 (Figure 1-6).

CAMBA Experiences

  • Most respondents (89%) have ridden on CAMBA trails before, and four in ten have ridden CAMBA trails in the winter (Table 1-2).
  • The median number of times respondents had ridden on the CAMBA trails was nine (Figure 1-7).
  • The median number of times respondents had ridden CAMBA trails in winter was one (Figure 1-8).
  • A majority of survey respondents were either riding alone or with one other person (Figure 1-9).

Accommodations When Visiting CAMBA Area

  • About one-in five CAMBA users who live outside the area stay in a rented cabin or house (23%) or a vacation or second home they own (20%) (Figure 1-10).
  • The typical non-local CAMBA user stays two nights during their visit (Figure 1-11).

Other Activities

  • Two-thirds of CAMBA users expected to engage in at least one other activity during their visit.
  • Approximately one-third of respondents expect to hike or swim during their visit to the trails (Figure 1-12).

Spending by CAMBA Visitors

  • On average, each non-local visitor of CAMBA trails expects to spend $200 per day during their visit to the area (Table 1-3).

Total Economic Impact

The spending of CAMBA users is estimated to have boosted the 2019 Bayfield and Sawyer County economies by:

  • Creating the need for 118 jobs
  • Generating $2.3 million in labor income
  • Generating $3.2 million in total value
  • Having a total impact of $7.8 million to Bayfield and Sawyer Counties during 2019 (Table 1-4).

Spending by CAMBA users added approximately $1.8 million to the total value of both full-service restaurants and hotels and motels in the two counties (Table 1-5).

Winter CAMBA Users

  • Only about 10% of CAMBA trail riders use the trails during winter.

Comparing 18 winter responses to the 298 interviews conducted in the summer/fall found that:

  • Winter riders included a higher proportion of women and those 55 and older.
  • Winter riders appear to bike in larger groups.
  • A higher proportion of winter riders come from outside the two-county region.
  • Winter visitors tend to spend fewer nights in the area.
  • Winter visitors expect to cross-country ski and go snowshoeing.
  • On a per day basis, winter visitors appear to spend slightly less.

Open-Ended Comments

  • A large majority of the 276 comments (82%) were complementary
  • Roughly equal numbers of respondents would like more toilet facilities, more easier trails, more technical trails, improved signage, better maintenance, and the construction of even more trails.

Part II Summary

CAMBA User Experience Survey Respondents’ Demographic Profile

  • Substantially more men (72% of the sample) responded than women (27%) (Figure 2-1).
  • Almost three-fourths (74%) were 45 or older (Figure 2-2).
  • Two-thirds of respondents had six-figure household incomes (Figure 2-3).

CAMBA User Characteristics

  • A majority of survey respondents (62%) classify themselves as having above average or expert biking ability (Figure 2-4).
  • Two-thirds said they ride more than 10 miles daily (Figure 2-5).
  • Approximately nine of ten respondents said that singletrack trails, trail variety, and quiet, natural surroundings were important or very important trail characteristics (Figure 2-6).
  • Singletrack trails is the “most important” trail characteristic respondents consider when deciding which trail to ride (Figure 2-7).
  • 87% of respondents have ridden on other trail systems in Wisconsin, the Midwest, or elsewhere in the U.S. (Figure 2-12).
  • Respondents were most likely to have ridden on trails in the Twin Cities metro area.
  • More than half (58%) of the 796 non-Wisconsin trails identified were located in the Midwest (Table 2-7).

CAMBA Trail Information

  • 95% of respondents have ridden on CAMBA trails in the past three years (Figure 2-12).
  • Nearly half of the respondents said that the deep woods/wilderness-like environment and quality of trails most influenced them to ride CAMBA trails (Figure 2-13).
  • Over the last three years, the Seeley Cluster was the most frequently ridden (Table 2-3). However, the Cable Cluster seems to be the cornerstone cluster in the CAMBA trail system in that riding it significantly increases the likelihood of riding other clusters
  • About 40% of respondents rated Seeley Pass as their favorite CAMBA trail. About one-third said that either Flow Mama or Makwa is their favorite CAMBA trail (Figure 2-14).
  • More than half the respondents (58%) would like to see more easy riding trails in the CAMBA trail system (Figure 2-15).
  • 30% of respondents oppose/strongly oppose allowing electric mountain bikes (eMTBs) on CAMBA trails, 45% are neutral/no opinion, and 25% favor/strongly favor them (Figure 2-16).

Overall Rating of CAMBA Trail System

  • Most respondents are very satisfied (69%) or satisfied (28%) with CAMBA trails (Figure 2-17).
  • Trail attributes identified as problems with other trail systems are not considered serious problems on the CAMBA trails (Figure 2-17).
  • Strong majorities of respondents believe that the CAMBA trail system is better than other trails in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the Midwest. Compared to trails elsewhere in the United States, similar proportions rate CAMBA trails as average (51%)  or better than elsewhere (46%) (Figure 2-20).
  • Most said CAMBA trails have average difficulty compared to other trails in Wisconsin (72% ) and other Midwestern trails (74%). Compared to trails elsewhere in the U.S., CAMBA trails are seen as average (50%) or easier (45%) (Figure 2-21).

CAMBA Membership and Sources of Information

  • Less than one-half (45%) of the respondents were CAMBA members (Figure 2-10).
  • Many are not members because they live too far away/not local (Figure 2-11).
  • Most found out about the CAMBA trails via CAMBA’s website or from word from mouth by friends or family (Figure 2-9).

Additional Comments

  • About 2/3 of the respondents provided additional written-in comments.

More than one-half of the 239 comments were positive (Table 2-8).

View and download the entire 2020 Study.


2014 The Economic Impact of Active Silent Sports Enthusiasts
A Case Study from Northern Wisconsin

View the entire 2014 Silent Sports Economic Impact Study. (PDF)

January 17, 2014

The financial and economic impact of participants in activities commonly known as “silent sports” has long been a significant force in the economies of rural northwest Wisconsin. Hard data and statistical documentation of that impact, however, has been elusive. The Economic Impact of Active Silent Sports Enthusiasts, A Case Study from Northern Wisconsin, a 54-page report provides an in-depth look at the various influences and impacts of these activities. Authored by Dave Berard, Scott Chapin, Alan Hoogasian, Tim Kane, Dave Marcouiller, and Tom Wojciechowski, the study was conducted by the University of Wisconsin – Madison/Extension, Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

“While it’s always been relatively easy to gather total economic expenditure data from an event such as the American Birkebeiner or Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival,” says Scott Chapin, “the total (annualized) economic impact these local events and their associated activities have on the community was harder to find.”

Outdoor recreation and its ties to tourism-demand are key components of the multiple-use landscape of Northern Wisconsin, which is endowed with both abundant natural amenities in its forests, waters, and recreational assets and receptive community retail and service sectors. The purpose of the study was to provide information for use by development and recreation planners, and others in their pursuit to improve the quality and availability of these recreational opportunities.

For the purpose of this study, only selected activities: cross country skiing, biking, and running were researched, due in part to the complexity in gathering data from the many other user-groups. In addition to ascertaining economic impact, the study focuses on silent sports enthusiasts’ relationships to the local communities in which they recreate and presents information related to trip and user characteristics, expenditure patterns, user preferences, and demographic information.

Active silent sports participants were defined as someone who had participated in at least one cross country skiing, biking, or running event during the course of the year-long study. The study area included Ashland, Bayfield, and Sawyer Counties of northern Wisconsin. Research methods involved email surveys to participants in an assortment of events in this area during the 2012 calendar year.  Because of the difficulty in efficiently reaching individual silent sport enthusiasts at the many trailheads and other venues, it was determined that using event registration lists would provide better direct access to survey subjects. It was understood that there are more participants in these activities who visit the area than just those that participate in events. For that reason, the authors acknowledge that their findings and the resulting economic impact may actually be somewhat understated.

Among the key findings of the study, the researchers found that 95 percent of the roughly 26,700 event participants were nonresidents of Ashland, Bayfield and Sawyer Counties. During the 2012 calendar year, an estimated 56,500 individual trips were made to this northern Wisconsin region to participate in silent sports events.

Demographic highlights of survey respondents included: 88 percent had a bachelor’s degree or higher; 50 percent were between the age of 30 and 50; 70% identified their occupation as professional or managerial; and 89 percent reported an annual household income of at least $50,000 with an average household pretax income of $128,000.

Event participants reported relatively high importance and satisfaction levels for event organization, trail signage, quality and type of trail surface, and facility cleanliness. There was also high importance and satisfaction with local overnight accommodations, equipment repair, and eating and drinking establishments. There was low satisfaction, however, yet high importance associated with local cell phone service and Wi-Fi availability.

On the average, the active silent sports enthusiasts spent about $468 per trip, with about $260 of this taking place locally in the study area.  When annualized, this average annual expenditure pattern suggests trip spending by nonresident visitors of $26.4 million in 2012. Direct spending in the study region was annualized at $14.7 million and when factored for indirect and induced effects, the total economic impact is measured at $16.7 million.

View the entire 2014 Silent Sports Economic Impact Study. (PDF)


1997 Mountain Biking in the Chequamegon Area of Northern Wisconsin and Implications for Regional Development

Created in 1997 this study looks at the economic impact of the CAMBA mountain bike trails in northwest Wisconsin. It was one of the first studies of its kind to evaluate mountain biking as an economic development tool.

View the entire 1997 Economic Impact Study (PDF)