I love exploring the many hiking trails southeastern Wisconsin has to offer, exploring new parks with our Congregation Sinai Outside affinity group. This list includes my top five favorites for springtime enjoyment, ranging from a five–minute to 50–minute drive from our North Shore home.
Note: I have only included pet–friendly hiking trails. If you are not inclined to hike with your animal and don’t mind paying admission, I recommend the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center in Bayside, Riveredge Nature Center in Newburg, Retzer Nature Center in Waukesha, or the Lynden Sculpture Garden in River Hills.
- Kletzsch Park (Milwaukee County Parks) abuts the intersection of West Green Tree Road and North Milwaukee River Parkway, in Glendale. It has more than three miles of trails, wooded, and open field, up Christmas tree hill, along the Milwaukee River through sometimes muddy terrain, or simply walk the paved path along the Parkway to the waterfall. One trail starts just south of Good Hope Road and is well marked. There are two longer loop trails along the river located near picnic area five, and an interconnected nature trail starting at the pavilion. Dogs on leash. Portable toilet at the pavilion until May, then indoor bathrooms available.
- Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve (Ozaukee County Parks), sits beside Lake Michigan in Grafton. It takes you along the bluffs of the lake in a series of interconnecting trails. You can access a small area of the lake after descending an elaborate wooden stairway. This park tends to be crowded, but I think you will be able to keep an acceptable social distance. Pets on leash. Portable toilets.
- Grant Park and Seven Bridges Trail (Milwaukee County Parks) are along Lake Michigan at College Avenue, in South Milwaukee. There are two miles of beautifully scenic, wooded trails crossing, yes, seven bridges, as you wind your way through the ravine to the beach of Lake Michigan (bring a blanket and frisbee), or walk along the bluffs to enjoy the view. Dogs on leash.
- Pleasant Valley Trail is west of Interstate 43 in Grafton. It has an intricate series of loop trails that course through woods and grassy fields. The park is predominantly flat because trails were designed for mountain bikers. But there are portions along the edges that are sloped, making it a more challenging hike. Picnic area and toilets available.
- Two Northern Kettle Moraine State Park trails are less than an hour north of the Milwaukee area. (I know this makes six, but I couldn’t decide!) Butler Lake is a beautiful three-mile wooded, undulating trail through mature forest that intersects with the Ice Age trail (should you decide to go farther). There is a lake, but only visible near the parking lot. Pit toilets. Dogs on leash. State Park pass required. Parnell Tower Trail here is 3.5 miles of beautifully canopied undulating trails. The climb up the five-story tower to view the surrounding landscapes is breathtaking. Indoor pit toilets, picnic area. Dogs on leash.
If you follow Bobbi’s advice, please feel free to take pictures, send them into the Chronicle, and tell us what you liked for others to also try out and enjoy!