WI Milwaukee Whitnall Park
Whitnall Park Hiking and Cross Country Ski Trails
Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
Whitnall Park is a scenic county park with numerous hiking trails, cross country skiing on the golf course, and a dedicated mountain bike trail. The park also includes the Wehr Nature Center and Boerner Botanical Gardens
- Terrain / Scenery: Scenic wooded areas along with open grassy or prairie areas. Area includes a creek, river, and small lake.
- Fees / Permits: None for main portion of park (I believe there is a fee for Boerner Botanical Gardens)
- Trail Conditions: For ski trail conditions, your best bet is to check the trail reports page at Skinnyski.com Whitnall Park
- Trail Markings: The mountain bike trail has directional signs at key intersection. Hiking trails and ski trails are unmarked (other than signs at some of the trailheads)
- Official Web Page: http://www.countyparks.com
- Getting There: Whitnall Park is located in Franklin Wisconsin, southwest of Milwaukee. Access to ski trails is from the Golf Course Parking area on 92nd Street, north of Rawson Ave. Access to hiking trails from various locations within park. Google Maps Link to Whitnall Park
Overview Map of Whitnall Park Trails :
I don't get out to Whitnal Park all that often and when I do it's usually for the mountain bike trails. So even though I have hiked or skied most of the other trails, I have not yet hit every trail and therefore my map is not yet complete. Hiking trails are all shown in Black on the map. The mountain bike trails are shown Red and Purple (Purple are fee-based trails in the bike park). Yellow represents where they may groom the ski trail on the golf course. Green represents the wooded areas.
- I've created a separate page with a more detailed map of the mountain bike and hiking trails east of 92nd Street. See Alpha Mountain Bike Trail and "The Rock" Mountain Bike Park
- You can download a nice map of the main portion of Whitnall Park (Areas west of 92nd Street) from the Milwaukee County Parks Map Page. Their map is surprisingly accurate for the web of trails around the Wehr Nature Center and shows a couple of trails not shown on my map, but does not contain anything east of 92nd street.
There are primarily two groups of dedicated hiking trails in the park. The main trails are located around the Wehr Nature Center located off of College Ave. This is a diverse scenic system consisting of wooded areas, prairie, and wetlands. These are narrow natural surfaced hiking trails with fairly gentle grades (there are some gradual trail stairs in some sections). There are some boardwalks running through the wetlands adjacent to the southwest portion of the large pond. There is also a bridge in this area that crosses the small creek and provides access to the trail on the east side of the pond.
The other group of hiking trails is located east of 92nd Street and runs through the scenic wooded area along the ridge above the floodplain of the Root River. This set of trails is primarily made up of a single loop with numerous access trails and then a couple of side trails heading into the wetlands area. You can access these trails from behind Ross Lodge (the small parking area across from the golf course parking lot) or from the bottom of the sledding hill or from the archery range.
I believe you can also hike the mountain bike trails (not the ones in the Bike Park), but that may be a less-than-peaceful experience since you can expect to be passed frequently by mountain bikers on these narrow trails. Since the other hiking trails do not allow bikes, you may want to stick with them or hike the mountain bike trails during the off season when they may be closed due to muddy conditions.
I've only skied out here a few times, but from what I could make out, they do sometimes groom a cross country ski trail on the golf course, but they don't always groom when there is snow. So unless you have received confirmation that they have groomed out here (such as a trail report from Skinnyski.com ), you should probably assume the trails are not groomed. The first time I came here to ski, I was here a full week after a significant snow storm and they had not groomed the trails, so I have no idea what system they are using for determining when to groom. However, on my most recent trip here, they had gone nuts grooming and there were trails everywhere on the golf course (more than normal). I used this most recent visit to draw the ski trails on my map (shown in yellow), but be aware, because it is a large open area, they can basically groom wherever they want. You can expect that there will be a main trail running the perimeter of the golf course, but beyond that, anything goes. I estimate that one lap around the main outer loop on the golf course is about two miles, the total ski trail mileage shown on my map is approximately 5 or 6 miles. They groom two sets of classic track about 3 to 4 feet apart. Though some skiers skate this area between the classic tracks, it's not really wide enough for skating (you end up tearing up the classic track). It's rather unusual to not groom a skating lane on a golf course ski trail, but that's apparently what they are doing here (remember, I don't get out here all that often so this may change).
Access to the ski trail on the golf course is from the golf course parking area on the west side of 92nd Street. Just park at the south end of the parking area and then walk south to the trails on the golf course. There are a few nice hills on the golf course and a few short trails through the woods.
There's also some fun to be had skiing the hiking trails (not groomed). You can access the Wehr Nature Center trails right from the golf course. There is a bridge across the creek at the south end of the pond that provides access to the main trail system. These hiking trails are narrow and mainly flat with some gentle grades, but are interesting to ski. There are several narrow boardwalks that you need to ski (you may not want to bring those expensive ski poles since boardwalks tend to like to break tips and poles) and a couple of trails have some stairs (gradual stairs created with railroad ties) that add some technical skiing interest. These trails look like they get a lot of foot traffic, so I don't know if I would recommend skiing them on a weekend afternoon.
The hiking trails on the east side of 92nd street are a little more challenging. This area has some steeper grades and there are occasional large rocks protruding from the trail. The trickiest section (located at the east end of the main loop if you are skiing counterclockwise) is a winding downhill down a set of trail stairs and then across a little bridge.
I've created a separate page for the mountain bike trails. See Alpha Mountain Bike Trail and "The Rock" Bike Park
This page is authored and maintained by Dave Piasecki