Southeastern Wisconsin is a nature-lovers paradise. With so many parks, preserves, and trails in the area, it can be hard to know where to start. We’ve put together this list of 10 must-do hikes in southeastern Wisconsin.
Whether you’re looking for an easy nature walk or a strenuous day hike, we’ve got you covered. So lace up your hiking boots and get ready to explore some of the most beautiful scenery southeastern Wisconsin has to offer!
The State of Wisconsin might be known for its beer and cheese, but it should be known for all of its nature lovers! Caleb and I try to get on a hike with the doggies as often as possible. These hikes are great at any time of the year, and some are harder than others. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has a variety of hiking trails with different views, lengths, and difficulty levels.
This article rates the best hikes in or around Milwaukee, Wisconsin; you need to experience them for yourself!
The 116-mile trail circles around the city of Milwaukee, offering something for all levels of adventures! The Oak Leaf Trail has many paved paths for leisurely strolls accessible by wheelchairs, strollers, and bicycles. Trails throughout the nature preserve will elevation leads to more advanced parts of the Oak Leaf Trail and lead to breathtaking views. A section of the trail system even runs along a cliffside overlooking Lake Michigan. Oak Leaf Trail is an overall convenient and lovely nature trails for everyone to enjoy.
Located in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, about 40 miles from the city of Milwaukee, is a 3.5-mile hike to incredible views. If the views from the trail are not enough for you, there is a 60-foot observation tower along the path to give you an even better view above the trees. The Kettle Moraine State Forest is home to 132 miles of trails to venture. While in the area, check out Lapham Peak (has a focal point of a 45-foot observation tower atop the highest point in Waukesha county), Tamarack Loop, and Scuppernong Trails, which also all lend themselves to wonderful hiking experiences and picnic areas.
The Hank Aaron State Trail is a great opportunity to experience the history of Milwaukee, popular scenery, and enjoyable physical activity. The trail was named in honor of Milwaukee’s famous baseball player Hank Aaron, which is fitting as part of the trail passes by Miller Park and ends at Blue Mound Road in Elm Grove. Many more beautiful views, pine trees, native grasses, and migratory birds. can be seen along the 13.5-mile trail. Some of the trails even travel along Lake Michigan. Wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, runners, cyclists, and canine friends all are welcome on this popular Milwaukee trail.
Milwaukee hikers find out quickly how the Milwaukee Lakefront Trail gets its name. This 5.9-mile lakefront loop has incredible views of Lake Michigan from the city. The trail is well-maintained and wide enough for many quests to experience these views. This is one of the best places to take a morning run in the summer!
Located in the Milwaukee city limits, Havenwoods State Forest is a way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life for a relaxing hike through the woods. This park is open all year round and is a great way to spend time in the great outdoors! The 6 miles of trails (mostly paved) wind through scenes of wildflowers, woods, and wildlife. Visit the Trek Through Time Trail for geocaching fun, which is enjoyable for all ages.
The Ice Age trail stretches more than 1,200 miles across the entire state, which an overwhelming number of breathtaking trails and views. The segment we recommend is the beautiful Holy Hill Segment is a hike for all skill levels and their pups too. The Holy Hill section in Hartford is a 6.8-mile trail through a lush forest area, highlighted by a carpet of spring wildflowers during the warmer months.
Great for picnics, day trips, or even extensive hikes, the Greenfield Park Trail is a destination for all. Just outside the city, Greenfield Park Trail is a 1.2-mile paved loop featuring a lake with opportunities to see wildlife along your walk. Bring along your family, friends, and or puppy pal for a beautiful day on this trail.
Located about 20 miles outside of Milwaukee is a 3-mile loop of hills and cliffs that makes up the Lion’s Den trail. The highlight of this trail is the stunning views of Lake Michigan that are offered along the way. For those who normally hike with a stroller, be warned that there are some stairs on this trail. Dogs are welcome to accompany their owners, and poop-bag dispensers are in each parking lot.
This is one of my favorite hikes in Milwaukee, Wisconsin! I love taking the dogs to the beach and letting them run with a long lead!
Psst: I also love this park because it is the perfect location for your Wisconsin Family Portraits! Did you know I am rated one of Wisconsin’s Best Family Photographers?
South Milwaukee houses the 2-mile Seven Bridges Trail, just as it sounds, a trail through seven bridges.
This trail, however, has so much more to offer. The trail has a reputation of being haunted, but don’t let that scare you away. There are many interesting structures along the trail to capture with your camera. The Seven Bridges Trail comes to an end by opening to Lake Michigan beachfront. Not a bad way to end a haunted hiking trail. Grant Park has beautiful scenery any time of the year, but Fall is my favorite. Hiker’s come from all over to view the incredible fall foliage and collect sea glass on the sandy beach.
The Black Marsh Boardwalk trail is only 1/4 of a mile but it offers great views all year round. This short but sweet hike really shines when the marsh is flooded. The corded boardwalk floats above the water for an amazing experience. The state park includes other impressive hikes like The Dunes Cordwalk, Woodland Dunes Nature Trail, and Black River Trail. Many of the trails in Kohler-Andrea State park, such as The Black Marsh Boardwalk is wheelchair/stroller accessible and dog friendly (but they must be on a leash). Caleb and I walked this trail last year with Kenzo & had a picnic lunch on the beach for our one-year wedding anniversary! My favorite part of Kohler Andrae is the sand dunes and the loop trail that makes its way to the shores of lake Michigan.
The Greenfield Park Trail, Lion’s Den Trail, and Seven Bridges Trail at Grant Park are all dog-friendly. The Black Marsh Boardwalk in Kohler-Andrae State Park is also pet friendly, but they must be kept on a leash. I have a blog post all about dog-friendly Wisconsin hikes: HERE.
Wisconsin has many hikes with waterfalls, including Copper Falls State Park, Amnicon Falls State Park, and Perrot State Park. Check out the AllTrails website for more details on these trails and other waterfall hikes in Wisconsin.
There are plenty of photography spots in Milwaukee, including the MKE skyline at Lakeshore State Park, the Milwaukee Riverwalk, and Bradford Beach.
Grant Park is also an excellent spot for family photos with the Seven Bridges Trail and Lake Michigan beachfront.
Vehicle admission stickers can be purchased online through the Wisconsin DNR website, or in person at any Wisconsin state park.
While hiking alone can be enjoyable and peaceful, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings and practice safety precautions. Make sure to tell someone where you are going, and carry a cell phone in case of an emergency. If possible, it’s best to hike with a friend or family member. Be sure to also check local hiking conditions before heading out on the trail.
Did you know Wisconsin has hiked with waterfalls? Neither did I! But after some research, I’ve rounded up 7 Wisconsin Hikes with Waterfalls!
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