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Oak Leaf Trail offers scenic biking nestled in city limits

After work, on the weekends, or even during lunch, it's always a great time for a leisurely bike ride, and fortunately, Milwaukee's Oak Leaf Trail offers 90 miles of mixed-use paths.

About 34 miles of the trail consists of off-road paths. Nearly 31 miles are parkway drives, and 25 miles are municipal streets as connecting routes.

The trail stretches as far north as Dean Road in River Hills. It extends all the way to 124th Street in Greenfield Park to the west. To the south, the trail runs along Drexel Avenue, and on the east, it runs along the lake from Grant Park to Lake Park.

Of its many scenic highlights, a favorite is the Lake Loop, which passes Veteran's Park, the McKinley Marina and Bradford Beach. The Lake Loop is a quick 5.4-mile jaunt, while the Lincoln Creek Spur is 1.6 miles, the Whitnall Loop is 2.6 miles, and the East-West Connector is a longer 13.7 miles.

The trail's origins trace back to 1939, when a small but dedicated biking enthusiast designed a 64.5-mile loop around the periphery of Milwaukee County. The original trail lined just river corridors and the lake front.

Nearly three decades later, the Milwaukee County Park Commission officially established the trail. In 1966, the county began construction of the off-street trails in undeveloped parklands that have made the Oak Leaf Trail one of the premier urban biking facilities in the country.

The off-road portions of the trail are designed to support multiple uses, including inline skating and jogging. In winter, it's typical to find cross-country skiers making use of the paths.

A good map of the entire trail would take up about a dozen computer screens, so we'll save you the effort of trying to read one within the confines of an OMC page. You can download a giant PDF of the map by clicking here. You can request a free print map from the Milwaukee County Parks department by calling (414) 257-6100 or by picking one up at any area biking store.


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