The metro area is criss-crossed with trails, although not all of them are easy to find.
Perfect for that the nagging part of winter, where it’s warm enough to conceive of doing something outside, but still too mucky to get very far. For planning purposes, or for the boot wearers among us, we’ve listed some outdoor terrain suited for warmer days, plus a few year-round adventures.
Before the thaw
Reservoir Park – This park with the highest point in the city has a lasso-shaped, paved trail running around the top of it, like a track but with panoramic views.
Enter at: Bremen and North.
Beerline and beyond – The paved Beerline trail connects to the Brady Street area and the RiverWalk, making it fun for a Saturday ramble.
Enter at: Gordon Park, 2828 N Humboldt Blvd, southern end.
Hank Aaron State Trail – This one runs all over town. Highlights include Three Bridges Park, a miniature wonderland wedged into the Menomonee Valley, and Lakeshore State Park, the fan shaped islands just east of the Summerfest grounds.
Enter at: Map here.
After the thaw
Havenwoods State Park – This partially wooded park on the northwest side used to be the site of a prison camp, but these days, it’s a gorgeous retreat from city life. The 237 acres contain several miles of trails (most of them dirt and grass), a footbridge, a couple of ponds with docks, flocks of wild turkeys and even the occasional deer.
Enter at: 6141 N. Hopkins St.
East and West Bank Trails – Both sides of the Milwaukee River, from south of the Locust Street bridge up to the Capitol Drive bridge, are laced with adventurous hiking trails. On the east side, the trails connect to the Oak Leaf Trail, and on the west, to the paved Beerline B trail.
Enter at: Numerous points on both sides of the river. For the East Side, the trail’s crossing with Locust Street is convenient. For the West Side, follow the footpath leading down from the Beerline B, right behind the UWM Riverview Residence Hall, 2340 N. Commerce St.
Aztalan State Park – This park in Jefferson County, about midway between Milwaukee and Madison, has enough land to tromp around on, and the sense of history is tremendous. Between 1000 and 1300 B.C., a small city existed here, built and populated by the Middle-Mississippian people, who maintained a large stockade around the perimeter, part of which has been reconstructed. The city used the little-known but lovely Craw Fish River.
Enter at: N6200 County Road Q, Jefferson.
St. Francis Seminary Woods – This pocket of woods, about 70 acres, to the south of the seminary complex is hard to beat for a casual stroll with friends or relatives. A web of trails surrounds great old trees and a historic cemetery that oozes with mood and atmosphere. Don’t let the ghost stories keep you away.
Enter at: 3257 S. Lake Dr., St. Francis. Park in a southern lot.
Schlitz Audubon – Many Milwaukeeans never make it up to this nature preserve just north of Doctor’s Park on the lakeshore. The trails aren’t epic in length, but they wind around ravines and conservation areas, not to mention Mystery Lake.
Enter at: 1111 E Brown Deer Rd., Bayside.
UPDATE: A previous version of this post gave the wrong park for connecting to the Beerline Trail.