By Eric Paulsen Special to Published Aug 03, 2004 at 5:16 AM

{image1}Milwaukee and its environs offer a plethora of paths, trails and streets that work well for biking. In addition to the 96-mile Oak Leaf Trail encircling Milwaukee County, well-marked bike routes, new bike lanes on Water Street north of downtown, a network of trails is growing.

Here are five great rides whose origins are all within an hour's drive of downtown Brew City. All make for good biking, whether you're making it a morning workout or a full day of enjoyment.

Lake Country Trail
Distance: eight miles. Runs from: Golf Road in Waukesha to Wells Street in Delafield. Trailhead distance from downtown Milwaukee: approximately 20 minutes to eastern trailhead; approximately 30 minutes to western trailhead

Running for the most part along the old Interurban train line that once connected Milwaukee with Watertown, the Lake Country Trail begins at County Highway G on the northern edge of Waukesha. The Landsberg Center marks its eastern trailhead, offering parking, a restroom and vending facilities in full view of Interstate-94 adjacent to the Country Inn. Surfaced with crushed gravel, limestone and occasionally asphalt, it winds through and past fields, golf courses, emerging subdivisions and forested corridors on its way to Delafield.

Some hills are a challenge, but the sweeping view of Pewaukee Lake and access to Nagawaukee, Firemans and Cushing Parks make for pleasant biking. This relatively short trail means you can enjoy a few hours of riding without having to make a day of it, unless of course you want to. If so, check out Delafield's downtown stores, stop in the watering holes on Pewaukee Lake (accessible from the junction at Highway SS, where you follow along the road for several blocks) or sneak into the clubhouse at Western Lakes Golf Club.

In addition to the Landsberg Center on its eastern end, you can park along the trail at Nagawaukee Park near Highway 83 and Wells Street in Delafield on its western end.

Opened in 1994, the trail is slated for future expansion on both ends and will likely continue to follow the old Interurban path; the power lines the trail follows can easily be traced past Oconomowoc and into Jefferson County, westward all the way to Watertown.

Directions, Milwaukee to eastern trailhead: I-94 west to County T (Exit 293); north one block to County G, west about one mile to trailhead.

Directions, Milwaukee to western trailhead: I-94 west to County C (Exit 285); north into Delafield, right on Wells Street to trailhead.

Bugline Trail
Distance: 12.2 miles. Runs from: Menomonee Falls to Merton. Trailhead distance from downtown Milwaukee: approximately 20 minutes to eastern trailhead; 35 minutes to western trailhead

The Bugline is another rails-to-trails conversion. From the eastern trailhead in Menomonee Park (off Appleton Avenue in Menomonee Falls), one can ride through neighborhoods, forests, and over the sub-continental divide into Lannon, Sussex and Merton, where it ends along that town's Main Street.

A horseback-riding path abuts the trail for about three miles in Menomonee Falls; a 4.5-mile hiking trail also complements the eastern trailhead in Menomonee Park.

The flat trail is terrific for biking; snowmobile enthusiasts can also use it in winter. Use caution at several crossings of Highway 74 between Menomonee Falls and Lannon where there can be heavy traffic.

Future plans include a western extension to North Lake and an eastern extension to connect with the Oak Leaf Trail on Milwaukee's northwest side.

Directions, Milwaukee to eastern trailhead: Appleton Avenue northwest just past the Highway 74 (Main Street) junction in downtown Menomonee Falls.

Directions, Milwaukee to western trailhead: I-94 west to Highway 16 (Exit 293C); north and west on 16 to the County KE (Jungbluth Road) exit; north on County KE to Merton.

{image2}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.

Eric Paulsen Special to
Eric Paulsen is a Milwaukee native but also grew up in Chicago, Detroit and Dallas, which means he’s never lived in a decent climate. Paulsen works as the Communications Officer for the Greater Milwaukee Committee, serves as a writer and contributor for commercials and a national TV show and pops up on 103.7 Kiss FM on weekends, doing his share of overplaying Top 40 hits. Previously, he was a business partner and director in a start-up online research company that began in 1998 and reached the Inc. 500 list by 2005. He was an early contributing writer for, dating back to 1999. He got his MBA from UW-Milwaukee in 2007 and also holds a BS in Consumer Science (a degree he can’t explain, either) from UW-Madison and thus cheers on the Badgers with reckless abandon. Eric is a graduate of the Future Milwaukee Leadership Program and participates in many community-minded events and initiatives, invited or not. When he’s not working, Paulsen enjoys running, road trips and practicing for a future career as a beer connoisseur.