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Take a Hike!
Five fun walks for families


November 2016


Celebrate National Take a Hike Day on Nov. 17, and start a new family tradition! Milwaukee County alone boasts more than 140 parks and parkways, spanning upward of 150,000 acres and many miles of trails — offering individuals and families amazing opportunities to explore the wild world of nature close to home.

Families who love both nature and art might start their hike on the Oak Leaf Trail at Riverside Park’s Urban Ecology Center (UEC). Branch Manager Jamie Ferschinger recommends visiting the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum, which is focused on connecting kids and families with nature. The arboretum is one of just 24 children’s forests designated by the USDA Forest Service and includes “imaginature” stations for children to discover. In addition, the center has a new sculpture series. “The nine rock cairns have rocks that represent different geologic eras of Wisconsin,” Ferschinger says. “And kids love climbing on them.”

Oak Leaf Trail at the Riverside Park UEC

Starting at the UEC, “a family can take a hike along a paved loop, either by heading through the arboretum arch or by crossing the Oak Leaf Trail on the walking bridge just to the north of the UEC,” says Ferschinger. The trails are ADA accessible and stroller friendly. Maps of the trails are available at the UEC reception desk. Hours vary, so check the website:
1500 E. Park Place

Lakeshore State Park

Located on the shores of Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee, this new state park provides paved trails, a small beach, and beautiful views of the downtown skyline and the lake. The trail contains several educational stations with wildlife facts for families, including an Eco-Box that provides audio lessons when visitors power it up by turning the crank. Lakeshore State Park is open year-round from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
500 N. Harbor Drive

Hank Aaron State Trail at Three Bridges Park

Located along the Menomonee River between 27th and 37th streets, Three Bridges Park was first a wild rice marsh and then a rail yard. The 24-acre park opened in 2013, with 2 miles of accessible biking and walking trails as well as beautiful vistas of Milwaukee. Visitors who park at Mitchell Park, near the Domes, will see “Bridge,” a sculpture by artist Peter Flannery that marks the east end of the park. Walk west and notice “Valley Passage,” a mural commemorating Milwaukee’s history. Walk under the passage to get to the Menomonee Valley UEC and search for its secret slide.
Menomonee Valley UEC, 3700 W. Pierce St.
The Domes at Mitchell Park, 524 S. Layton Blvd.

Wehr Nature Center at Whitnall Park

Visitors can hike on trails showing Wisconsin’s natural communities — prairie, woodlands, wetlands, an oak savanna and Mallard Lake. Families might appreciate the half-mile trail that takes you past the lake, over bridges through the woodlands and back to the visitor center. For a more challenging hike, try the Glacial Trail Loop, and look for evidence of the Wisconsin Glacier that covered this area as far back as 20,000 years ago: large rocks, known as erratics, and ridges called moraines. The Wehr Nature Center in Whitnall Park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Check the Milwaukee County website for holiday hours. There is a $3 per car parking fee at the center.
9701 W. College Ave., Franklin

Lapham Peak at Kettle Moraine State Forest

The Kettle Moraine and Lapham Peak were formed by glaciers, leaving behind glaciated topography that’s perfect for hiking. This Wisconsin state park offers visitors 17 miles of loop trails, including 4 miles of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The Plantation Path is a paved, 1.8-mile interpretive trail beginning at Homestead Hollow. Find a birds-eye view by climbing the 45-foot observation tower that sits atop the highest point in Waukesha County. The forest is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. year-round. A vehicle admission sticker is required, and a daily pass can be purchased for $8.
W329 N846 County Road C, Delafield


This story ran in the November 2016 issue of: