© 2024 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Exploring what the Milwaukee County Parks trail system has to offer

The Milwaukee River Line of the Oak Leaf Trail passes through Riverside Park.
Eddee Daniel
Preserve Our Parks
The Milwaukee River Line of the Oak Leaf Trail passes through Riverside Park.

Here in the Milwaukee area, we have the good fortune of having an extensive trail system in our Milwaukee County Parks system. People can bike, walk or run on more than 125 miles of paved trails — not to mention the hiking and river trails.

With many branch lines that connect to other municipal trails, there are plenty of options to explore that may be hidden in plain sight in your neighborhood.

To get some recommendations on where to start exploring this summer, Milwaukee County Parks Trails Coordinator Jessica Wineberg shares more.

  1. Hidden Gem Trails

    Milwaukee River Greenway
    "You can go to Caesar's Park, you can go to Riverside Park, you can go to Estabrook Park, you can go to Lincoln Park, Kern, Gordon, and all find a nice access to the trail," says Wineberg. "Portions of that trail are operated by other entities such as Shorewood and Hubbard Park. So you have two beer gardens to stop at if you do the full eight mile hiking loop to make it party for everybody."

  2. River Trails

    KK River Trail
    "In total, it's a little under two miles of trails if you do all the little segments, but it's really pretty and it's kind of a naturalized/semi-naturalized portion of the Kinnickinnic River that isn't something we see too much of in Milwaukee, but it's happening more and more," says Wineberg.

  3. Biking Trails

    Warnimont Park
    "That's a portion of the South Shore Line of the Oak Leaf Trail — it's really beautiful. It's also worth stopping, locking up your bike and walking on the hiking trails. There's there's some really unique microclimates that are interesting," says Wineberg.

  4. Bring the Kids: Trails for Children

    Copernicus Park
    "Copernicus Park is one example that actually has a bit of a paved trail through the woods, so that's good for a stroller. When I talk about hiking trails, they are generally earthen surface, so a more rugged stroller can handle it, but not a totally normal one," says Wineberg.

    The Oak Leaf Trail
    "The Oak Leaf Trail is great for strollers and people walking as well. I would be careful along the lakefront, you know, on very busy days sometimes people are going fast," says Wineberg.

  5. Walks for Trail Thursdays

    Wineberg says she's encouraging the community to come out and help her with taking care of all unpaved trails that Milwaukee has. The first and third Thursday of the month, Milwaukee County Parks will choose a different park to maintain and clean.

    "Trail work is uniquely rewarding and fun ... There's lots of different tasks to do when you join us, so if you just come with an open mind and want to give back I know you'll have a good time," she says.

  6. Wineberg's Favorites

    McGovern Park
    "There's a really beautiful woodland and lagoon in the middle of the park and in the spring the wildflowers are just beautiful," Wineberg notes. "And then I just found out there's a state champion chinkapin oak in this park, so I think that's a wonderful place to go and contemplate what Milwaukee looked like before there was more human encroachment and changes."

    Bender Park
    "There's really beautiful views, and I think it's the best picnic spot in Milwaukee. If you're willing to take the little hike to find a picnic table that's on the bluff it's really beautiful. I joke that it's like the best proposal site that nobody knows about. We'll see, maybe someone will make that come true," says Wineberg.

Oak Leaf Trail Map
Milwaukee County Parks
Oak Leaf Trail Map

This story was originally published on July 13, 2022.

Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
Related Content