WI Milwaukee River Parkway Trails
Milwaukee River Parkway Trails
Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
- Terrain / Scenery: Narrow, natural surfaced trails along the Milwaukee River.
- Fees / Permits: None
- Trail Conditions: You can post or view trail reports on this site by clicking the Milwaukee River Parkway Trails Discussion Page
- Trail Markings: None
- Official Web Page: None
- Getting There: Access through various parks including Estabrook Park, Riverside Park, Hubbard Park, Kern Park, Gordon Park. Here is a link to Google Maps that shows the parks.
***IMPORTANT NOTE: I have only been to these trails a couple of times, so my knowledge of them is somewhat limited. Also, I'm not sure of the Legal Status of Mountain Biking on these trails. They obviously get regular mountain bike use, and I didn't see any signs prohibiting bikes on these trails when I was out there (though I have received emails from people saying you can't ride here), so it seems as though bike use may be tolerated. However, you need to use your own judgment here..
Map of Milwaukee River Parkway Trails :
This map is only intended to show the general location of the trails (Red on the map). Basically, there are trails running along both sides of the river between Hampton Avenue and North Avenue. The Trails on the East side of the river are continuous and run primarily through parks. On the west side of the river, there is continuous trail along most of the river, however I didn't complete the section north of Capital Drive (I turned around where I show the trail end on my map) so I'm not sure if it goes all the way through. Also, at the south end, the trail sort of ends just north of North Ave where there has been some recent landscaping on some private property, so I'm not sure if you can access it from North Ave.
As I mentioned, my map just shows the general location of the trail(s). In reality, there may be multiple parallel trails running along the river (at various heights along the hillside) along with various connector trails.
A section of the paved Oak Leaf Trail (Yellow on the map) runs parallel to these trails and provides numerous access points through connector trails or staircases.
Let me first repeat that I'm not sure of the Legal Status of Mountain Biking on these trails. They obviously get regular mountain bike use, and I didn't see any signs prohibiting bikes on these trails, so it seems as though bike use is at least tolerated. However, you need to use your own judgment here.
That said, there is a lot of fun to be had here on a mountain bike. This is all narrow singletrack with a mix of nice flowy sections along with some more technical sections. The trails run at various heights along the steep hillsides along the river. Much of the trail is right along the river and some of it low enough into the flood plain that I would expect portions of the trail to be flooded when the Milwaukee River is running high (I could see clear evidence that portions of the trail had been previously submerged). Though I've only been here once, I would suggest staying away during early spring or when there has been any recent heavy rains.
I'm sure there are some fun sections that I missed, but I'll share what I remember from my visit. There were some nice fun sections east of the river just south of Hubbard Park and through Riverside Park. The trail north of Hubbard Park going through Estabrook Park on the east side of the river had some more technical rocky/rooty sections. Back on the west side of the river, I recall some real nice flowy singletrack through the Gordon Park area between North Ave and Locust St, there was also some decent trail through Kern park and a little north of Capital Drive, but eventually it opened up into a big open grassy along what looked like an industrial area. I turned around and headed back south shortly after this section.
Though it looks like most or all of the trail on the east side of the river is on public lands, I'm not sure about the west side. My guess is that some of it is either on private land or runs right along private land, so I would suggest watching for no trespassing signs and not venturing off the main trail.
The urban setting means that in addition to natural trail elements (rocks, roots, hills), you have various man-made elements along the trail that make things interesting. These include some old stone staircases and numerous things made out of concrete. Being unfamiliar with these trails, it was a bit slow going for me, but I can imagine these trails would be a blast to ride once you get familiar with the best routes. On the down side, the urban environment also comes with a lot of broken glass on the trail and possibly an increased risk of crime.
I was able to get out here on a week day, so I didn't run into too many other trail users, but I would imagine that on a weekend during the summer, you may encounter a lot of hikers and fishermen along the trails. Mountain bikers may also want to check the reviews of these trails on mtbr.com and Dirtworld.com (see external links at bottom of this page).
For hikers, these trails provide access to natural-surfaced hiking trails right in the heart of Milwaukee. Since you can access the trails from so many locations (any of the parks along river), it's easy to hike as much or as little as you want. You are right along the river most of the time, so the scenery is pretty good, and the steep hillsides provide some natural separation from the urban setting. You should expect that some sections of trail may be submerged during times of high water on the Milwaukee River.
- Oak Leaf Trail More information on the paved Oak Leaf trail that runs through this area.
- Alpha Trail More Milwaukee area mountain biking at Whitnall Park Alpha Trail
- More Kettle Moraine State Forest Trails More mountain biking trails in nearby Kettle Moraine State Forest.
- Milwaukee Area Trails
- Wisconsin Trails
- Dirtworld.com reviews of Milwaukee River Trails
- More Dirtworld.com reviews of Milwaukee River Trails
- mtbr.com reviews of Milwaukee River Trails
- More mtbr.com reviews of Milwaukee River Trails
This page is authored and maintained by Dave Piasecki