3 Milwaukee Trails That Take You off the Beaten Path

Looking for an adventure? Check out one of these trails!

You don’t have to travel far to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. In fact, you don’t have to travel at all. Plenty of gorgeous trails, teeming with ora and fauna, can be found within the metro area. And many of them boast views as beautiful as any you’ll see atop a remote mountain or distant seashore.

1. Milwaukee River Trail

HOURS: 6 A.M.-10 P.M.

Even though this 7.8-mile trail winds its way through the heart of the city, it feels like it’s a world away. That’s thanks in part to the waist-high grass that lines much of the trail. And to the canopy of trees stretching high overhead. Both dampen the noise of nearby traffic, allowing you to appreciate the sights and sounds of the river as you stroll along its banks.

LOCATION: Between Caesar’s Park (1939 N. Warren Ave.) and Estabrook Park (4400 N. Estabrook Dr.)

TRIP TIP: If you own a kayak – or can rent or borrow one (consider the Urban Ecology Center’s member program, urban ecologycenter.org) – you can also appreciate the beauty of this trail from the water.

2. Havenwoods State Forest

 HOURS: 6 A.M.-8 P.M.

The history of the tract of land now called Havenwoods is an interesting one. It was originally used by Native Americans for hunting. Then it became a prison farm, and later an army missile base. Now it’s Wisconsin’s only urban forest, and it features no less than 237 acres of wetlands, grasslands and woodlands. You can take advantage of the amenities near its perimeter, like a well-maintained arboretum and garden. Or hike to one
of the seldom-visited ponds deep within its interior, where you can easily imagine how the land might have looked centuries ago, before any European settlers arrived.

LOCATION: 6141 N. Hopkins St.

3. Seven Bridges Trail

HOURS: 6 A.M.-10 P.M.

Whoever named this two-mile trail in Grant Park apparently took the mantra “underpromise and overdeliver” to heart. Because it actually contains 10 bridges, not seven. Many of them are nearly a century old, and made of rough-hewn wood planks and blocks of Lannon stone that are nearly as picturesque as the surrounding landscape. Other trails in Grant Park offer stunning views of Lake Michigan from craggy, cliffsside observation points, as well as paths that lead down to the shoreline.

LOCATION: Grant Park (100 Hawthorne Ave., South Milwaukee)


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s May issue.

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Lindsey Anderson covers culture for Milwaukee Magazine. Before joining the MilMag team she worked as an editor at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and wrote freelance articles for ArtSlant and Eater.