Five great bike trails within 60 minutes of downtown
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Wild Goose State Park Trail
Distance: 34 miles. Runs from: Clyman to Fond du Lac
Trailhead distance from downtown Milwaukee: approximately 55 minutes to southern trailhead; one hour to northern trailhead.
The Wild Goose State Park Trail provides a long, serene ride through Dodge and Fond du Lac Counties. For about one-third of its length, it runs through the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and Horicon Marsh Wildlife Area, making for good bird watching.
The surface of the trail is smooth crushed gravel; along with the Horicon Marsh areas, it passes through the middle of several towns, including Juneau, Burnett and Oakfield. However, be aware that there are long stretches without services.
Areas to park include the southern trailhead along Highway 60 (just east of Highway 26) in Clyman, Minnesota Junction (intersection of Highways 26 and 33), Highway 49 along the Dodge-Fond du Lac County line, downtown Oakfield and near its northern end in Fond du Lac along County Road VVV, just off U.S. Highway 41.
Directions, Milwaukee to southern trailhead: I-94 west to Highway 16 (Exit 293C); follow Highway 16 past Watertown to Highway 26 north; follow Highway 26 north to Highway 60; east on Highway 60 to trailhead.
Directions, Milwaukee to northern trailhead: U.S. 41 northwest out of town toward Fond du Lac; exit Hickory Road (Exit 96); south to County Highway VVV; right on VVV to trailhead.
Hank Aaron State Trail
Distance: seven miles (sections still under construction). Runs from: 13th and Canal Streets in Milwaukee to Doyne Park in Wauwatosa. Trailhead distance from downtown Milwaukee: about three minutes to eastern trailhead; nine minutes to western trailhead.
One of the newer additions to the system (and still under construction in places), the Hank Aaron State Trail will function as the eastern link that will eventually allow bikers to get from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi River without having to share space with speeding vehicles.
Its eastern end will eventually be at the Summerfest grounds; for now, the easternmost completed segment of the trail can be picked up off Canal Street shortly before the Emmber Lane bridge. From there, the trail runs along the Menomonee River to 26th Street; this segment offers access to Marquette's soccer fields as well as the Potawatomi Casino. From 26th Street to just past 35th, a gravel path marking the future Canal Street extension is accessible by bike, before the asphalt trail begins again for the run past Miller Park.
The Miller Park segment runs under the bridges and offers markers outlining the trail and its name sake. You may have seen the observation deck at the east end of the parking lot along the stadium's access road; looking like cedar, it's actually constructed of recycled plastic milk bottles.
At the northern end of the completed section, you can connect to 44th Street, which winds between Miller Park parking lots, ducks under I-94 and provides a cool view of the Miller Brewing complex. Once under the Wisconsin Avenue Viaduct, 44th turns west and becomes Wells Street; follow it west through the residential neighborhood for about eight blocks, and you can reconnect with a trail in Doyne Park. From there, you can link up with the Menomonee River Parkway into Wauwatosa, which leads to other trails further west.
Ozaukee County Interurban Trail
Distance: 30 miles. Runs from: County Line Road at about 50th Street on the Brown Deer-Mequon border to County Highway K in the Town of Belgium, just west of I-43. Trailhead distance from downtown Milwaukee: about 18 minutes to southern trailhead; approximately 55 minutes to northern trailhead.
The aptly-named Interurban Bicycle Trail runs along the old Interurban line that connected Milwaukee and Sheboygan from 1908 to 1940. The electrical transmission line above portions of it still functions, and the path it cuts from Mequon to Belgium traverses the length of Ozaukee County. Most of the trail consists of asphalt, and it is well-marked throughout.
The Interurban winds through a mix of forest, grassland, farmland and many town centers. Thiensville, Cedarburg, Grafton, Saukville, Port Washington, Fredonia and Belgium are all stops along the way. The shops along Cedar Creek in downtown Cedarburg, Libby Montana's on Donges Bay Road in Mequon, the historic railroad bridge over the Milwaukee River in Grafton, Thiensville's Historic District and the Port Washington harbor are all points of interest directly on or adjacent to the Interurban Trail.
Milwaukeeans can connect by bike to the Interurban by hitting Brown Deer Road and then riding north on the gravel Brown Deer Recreational Trail to the county line. Parking facilities are available in various locations along the path, including Thiensville off Mequon Road and downtown Grafton; no parking facilities are available along County Line Road at the southern trailhead.
Northerly extensions toward the Sheboygan area and the Old Plank Trail are in the works.
Directions, Milwaukee to southern trailhead: I-43 to Brown Deer Road; west to Green Bay Road (Highway 57); north to County Line Road, west to trailhead.
Directions, Milwaukee to northern trailhead: I-43 north about 35 miles past the Marquette Interchange to County D (Exit 107); left to County LL; north to County K; left on K to trailhead.
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