15 Fabulous Hiking Trails for Milwaukee Area Families

Milwaukee Hiking Trails

Low humidity, mild temperatures and vibrant autumn colors. Picture-perfect views. Fall (and pumpkin spice season) is almost here and it is a wonderful time to get out and hike the many trails that the Milwaukee area has to offer, whether it be for a leisurely stroll or a long brisk hike. Not only that, but it’s a great chance to unplug and spend some quality time with your family.

We have compiled by no means a complete list, but it’s a good start of some of our favorites. For a comprehensive list of Wisconsin hiking trails, check out Travel Wisconsin. For some good tips on hiking with little ones, check out this Kids and Hiking post from REI. To check the status of the changing leaves, check out the Fall color report. And always remember, take only pictures and leave only footprints. 

15 Fabulous Milwaukee Hiking Trails
Milwaukee hiking trails

Bong State Recreation Area
26313 Burlington Rd, Kansasville
Open: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Admission: A state parks vehicle admission sticker is required. A daily pass can be purchased for $8.

About: Just 40 miles outside of Milwaukee, this 4,515 acre park offers trails for every season. The trails are set in a series of concentric circles which total almost 50 miles!

Havenwoods State Forest
6141 N. Hopkins St., Milwaukee
Open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Admission: free

About: Located right inside the city of Milwaukee, Havenwoods contains more than six miles of trails invite visitors to explore the property’s woods, wetlands and grasslands. With several different trail segments, visitors can choose a hike of varying length.
Several geocaches and way marks can be found at Havenwoods State Forest. Complete the Trek Through Time, a geocaching adventure and earn a collectable wooden geotoken.

Ice Age Trail – Holy Hill

1525 Carmel Road, Hubertus
Admission: free

Standing atop the observation deck at Holy Hill provides an amazing view – at 192 feet tall, you’ll see a stunning view of the Kettle Moraine Southern Unit. Head up the 178 steps to the observation tower and you’ll see the Milwaukee skyline that’s over 30 miles away. Park at the base of the hill to the basilica, hike up to the church then down the paved path through the Stations of the Cross. At the parking lot, hop on the Ice Age Trail for a short out-and-back hike to Highway 167. Back near the basilica, grab the blue trail spur back to your car.

Kettle Moraine State Forest – Pike Lake Unit
3544 Kettle Moraine Rd, Hartford
Open: 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Admission: A state parks vehicle admission sticker is required. A daily pass can be purchased for $8.

This 678-acre park provides panoramic views from atop Powder Hill as well as nine different hiking trails that provide hikers with a variety of topography and scenery. Users will pass through wetlands, maple, oak, and basswood stands, open prairies, and a variety of glacial terrain. Some of the more popular trails include Black Forest Nature Trail – a self-guided 0.8-mile hike, Astronomy Trail – a half mile walk through the solar system, Powder Hill – a glacial kame (the accumulated deposits of sediment at the front of a stationary glacier) which is one of the highest points in Southeastern Wisconsin, and Ice Age Trail – part of the National Scenic Trail that explores approximately 475 miles through significant glacial heritage. The boardwalk trial runs through a wetlands area along Pike Lake.

Lac Lawrann Conservancy
300 Schmidt Rd, West Bend
Open daily 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Admission: free

About: Lac Lawrann Conservancy has 4 miles of trails that lead hikers through deciduous woodlands to kettles, kames, an esker, as well as to ponds, wetlands, prairie, and a red pine plantation. Neighboring Royal Oaks Park adds another 1.5 miles of trails. Hiking trails include the Lake Loop, Railroad Spur, Esker, Northern Wetland, Pine Plantation, and Prairie Trails.

Lapham Peak
W329 N846 Co. C, Delafield
Open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission: A state parks vehicle admission sticker is required. A daily pass can be purchased for $8.

About: The Kettle Moraine and Lapham Peak were formed 10,000 years ago when a glacier covered much of Wisconsin. More than 1,000 acres of this hilly terrain are within the Lapham Peak boundaries. Lapham Peak has a variety of sights and activities to offer, including 21.2 miles of hiking trails and a 45-foot observation tower atop the highest point in Waukesha County (1,233 feet above sea level).

Lion’s Gorge Nature Preserve
511 High Bluff Dr, Grafton
Open from sunrise to sunset
Admission: free
About: Lion’s Den George offers 73 acres of hiking trails, boardwalks, wetlands, forest and beachfront along the shore of Lake Michigan. Offering 1/2 mile of 90 to 100 ft bluffs, the preserve is one of the last stretches of undeveloped lakefront property between Mequon and Port Washington, and is adjacent to a 44-acre wetland complex dedicated to enhancing populations of migratory birds and other wildlife.

Monches Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail
Trailhead located on E Kilbourn Road, Hartland, just West of Laskin Road
Open from sunrise to sunset
Admission: free

Located in the hardwood forest north of Hartland, this section of the Ice Age Trail offers some of the most spectacular fall hiking in the state. The 2.7-mile one-way hike follows the route of the Oconomowoc River including idyllic views of clear water and small bubbling brooks, with the backsplash of colors from the fall leaves of oaks and aspens.

Nashotah Park
W330 N5113 County Hwy C, Nashotah
Open from sunrise to 10 p.m.
Admission: $4 per car

About: Nashotah Park is a 444-acre park nestled among rolling hills, woodlands, wetlands, and grasslands that offer habitat for deer, waterfowl and a variety of songbirds. 7 miles of nature trails lead through easily identifiable landscape types that were created by the last glacial advance more than 10,000 years ago: a natural lake system, an oak forest, an oak savanna (an area sparsely populated with trees), a cedar glade, a floating leaf marsh.

Riveredge Nature Center
4458 County Hwy Y, Saukville
open daily from dawn to dusk (check website for visitor center hours)
Admission: $4 for adults, $2 for children 14-4, children 3 and under are free

About: With over 379 acres of land and ten miles of meandering trails, its easy to lose yourself in one of the most beautifully restored natural sanctuaries in southeastern Wisconsin. With prairies, woods, ponds, and over one mile of Milwaukee River shoreline, there is always something to explore.

Schlitz Audobon Nature Center
1111 E Brown Deer Rd, Milwaukee
Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: $8 for adults and $5 for children & veterans, members are free

About: Once a farm for the Schlitz Brewery draft horses, the center offers six miles of trails that take visitors through 185 unique acres of forests, wetlands, restored prairies, ravines, bluffs and Lake Michigan shoreline.

Seven Bridges Trail in Grant Park
100 Hawthorne Ave, South Milwaukee
Open daily 6:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

About:”Enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature.” As you wind your way through the ravine on unpaved and Lannon stone paths, Lannon stone staircases, and numerous foot bridges, you’ll discover the delights of nature – a carpet of spring wildflowers, the songs of migratory birds, fabulous fall color, the refreshing sound of water rushing in a brook. Following the trails, you’ll be led among enormous trees such as the native beech, along creeks, into secluded areas, and onto the shore of Lake Michigan.

Wehr Nature Center
9701 W. College Ave, Franklin
Open every day from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Closed some holidays, check their website)
Admission: free

About: Wehr has over five miles of trails on their 220 acres that link the Center’s natural communities: the Woodland, Wetland, Prairie, Oak Savanna and Lake. Interpretive signs introduce self-guided visitors to the homes and habitats of Wisconsin wildlife. Study sites along the trails allow guided groups to investigate the natural world face-to-face.

More than a 30 minute drive, but well worth it:

Devil’s Lake State Park
S5975 Park Rd – Baraboo, WI
Open 8:30am – 4:00pm, with later hours on the weekends.
Admission: A state parks vehicle admission sticker is required. A daily pass can be purchased for $8.

Just 120 miles out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest state park offers magnificent views from 500-foot Quartzite bluffs overlooking a 360-acre lake. Drive into Devil’s Lake State Park this fall and you’ll be blown away by the colors. It starts at the main entrance road with a welcome tunnel of bright gold maple leaves. It’s a favorite photo op spot, but that’s not all. Take either the East Bluff or West Bluff trails for amazing views of the park and the 500-foot tall quartzite bluffs. Don’t be alarmed if you see someone hanging from the side of a cliff. Rock climbers like fall color too, and this is a popular place to climb.

Lake Geneva Shore Path
918 W Main St, Lake Geneva
Admission: free (address is the public library, which is one of the public access points for the trail)

The multimillion-dollar mansions that line Geneva Lake in Walworth County are out of reach for most people, but the 21-mile path that circles the lake is accessible to everyone.  


What are your favorite trails in the Milwaukee area?

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