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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Oct. 20, 2014

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Ross Lodge is located in a renovated 1850s-era farm house, across from Whitnall Park.
Ross Lodge is located in a renovated 1850s-era farm house, across from Whitnall Park.
Civic and church groups can rent the building for meetings.
Civic and church groups can rent the building for meetings.
Groups can also use it for overnight stays and there are about 18 bunks.
Groups can also use it for overnight stays and there are about 18 bunks.
But you don't have to rent it or stay in order to walk or ride the trails.
But you don't have to rent it or stay in order to walk or ride the trails.

Ross Lodge ... who knew?

I don't pretend to know everything about this town, but after more than 30 years here, I admit I was a little surprised I'd never heard of Ross Lodge,  6750 S. 92 St., before yesterday.

When some friends suggested meeting for a nature walk at the lodge, which is across 92nd Street from Whitnall Park, we said, "where?!"

Turns out the lodge and its grounds -- owned by Milwaukee County and run by the Parks Dept. -- have a long history. 

According to a plaque erected in the lodge by The Park People, the building was built as a farm house by John Burke about 1857. The county bought it 98 years later and offers it to non-profits -- like scout and school group -- for meetings and overnight stays.

It was remodeled in 1986 with funds provided by the Will Ross Memorial Foundation and it now bears the name Will and Cava Ross Lodge.

This weekend, a group had occupied the lodge -- which has bunk beds for about 18 -- a great high-ceilinged fireplace room, bathrooms, a full kitchen and more. A smaller house, with a great old stone foundation, is a few dozen yards north, next to a fire pit that looks like it saw some action Saturday night.

The land has a series of rolling trails that are perfect for family hikes and for mountain bikers. There's one trail that follows the ridge of a small esker, making for an especially fun walk with kids.

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