5 Milwaukee-Area Runs You Have to Try

Run the city – find a route that gets you stoked.


From any direction, the views can’t be topped. Look east: Lake Michigan. Look west: the Downtown cityscape and the North Point water tower on the hill. A paved, off-street loop connects the Milwaukee Art Museum, Bradford Beach and Lake Park. The core circuit along Lincoln Memorial Drive and the Oak Leaf Trail covers about six miles. Spurs to the Lakeshore State Park and the red lighthouse behind the Marcus Amphitheater offer ample options to extend the run.


Prefer dirt to pavement? Want a canopy of leaves overhead? Then make your way to the Milwaukee River Trail, a series of pathways snaking along both sides of the river, in the roughly six miles from Commerce Street to Silver Spring Drive. Start from Estabrook Park or the Urban Ecology Center and find your rhythm next to the rushing water and whizzing casts of salmon and fly fishermen.


The Hank Aaron State Trail, which stretches 12 miles in an east-west path through Milwaukee, links history and advancement in the Menomonee Valley. Check out landmarks along the way: the Harley Davidson Museum, Miller Park, Wood National Cemetery and the Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Access points to the path extend from Lakeshore State Park on the east to S. 124th St. on the west.

Head Outta Town:

Drive an hour for a test of stamina and complete escape into the woods in the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, near Plymouth. A hilly, 3.5-mile dirt trail starts at the 60-foot wooden Parnell Tower. You’ll come across ultra runners and hikers in it for the long haul on the Ice Age Trail, which splits off the core loop and extends 1,200 miles through Wisconsin.

Jogger’s choice:

Find your own favorite stretch of the Oak Leaf Trail, a combination of off-street paths, parkways and local streets that covers a whopping 114 miles. An outing along the lake from South Shore Park to Grant Park covers six miles. Need to refuel? Stop at the farmer’s market in Bay View’s South Shore Park. Other popular portions include pathways to the Boerner Botanical Gardens and the East Side stretch from Veterans Park to Estabrook.

“Work up a Sweat” is part of the “Maximum Fun” cover story that appears in the 2016 City Guide issue of Milwaukee Magazine. Buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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