The new trail running from Glendale to Brown Deer Park is now paved, although finishing touches need to be applied (this past weekend it needed its final layer of asphalt and landscaping ). This trail follows the route of the former interurban streecar between Milwaukee, Port Washington, and Sheboygan, although it appears that the interurban name will not be used in Milwaukee county unlike in Ozaukee and Sheboygan counties. Instead it will be called the Oak Leaf trail south of Brown Deer Rd and the Brown Deer Trail between Brown Deer Rd and the county line.
This trail will serve as an alternate route between downtown Milwaukee and the Interurban trail system. To follow it, start with the same route along the former C & NW rail-to-trail conversion, and follow that route through Estabrook and Lincoln parks. But rather than continue north along the Milwaukee River Parkway, cross the parkway to the west and follow the trail to the intersection of Villard and Green Bay. Cross Green Bay and continue on the park trail and, once the trail ends, on Villard to 25th. Go north on 25th. The road jogs a bit and changes its name several times, but just keep going north until there is no more road. Pick up the trail and continue north. You can go all the way to Oostberg (with a few well-labelled gaps) before the trail runs out.
Tom Held has an article in the current Milwaukee Magazine describing Milwaukee’s “35 best trails.” These are mainly bike trails, but the list also includes some hiking trails and mountain bike trails.
The section of the Kinnickinnic River Trail between Washington and Maple streets is now open. I have changed the description of the Milwaukee-Chicago route to move this section off of 2nd or 1st street to Water Street and the new trail.
The block of Water Street north of Washington is scheduled for rebuilding next year. Until that happens, it is a bit of an obstacle course with all the tracks crossing at various angles.
A trail is currently under construction between Lincoln Avenue and Sixth Street using a former railroad right of way. It will follow the Kinnickinnic River.
The photos below show construction on the bridge that will take the trail over First Street. The first was taken about two weeks ago. The second was taken today.
This is the name of a new linear park that will run between Hank Aaron trail at the Urban Ecology Center to the Mitchell Park domes, using former rail yards along the Menomonee River. It is scheduled to open in July.
Attached are pictures of the construction activity.
For those taking the Oak Leaf trail on the south side of Milwaukee County, Drexel Avenue has long served as the connector between Lake Michigan and the trail along the Root River to the west. The bad news is that an interchange has now been opened connecting Drexel to I-94 and no doubt increasing traffic counts. The good news is that as part of that project a bike trail was constructed along the north side of Drexel.
Map of trail (pdf): Drexel bike path
All maps prepared using bikeverywhere.com.
Ever since the Wisconsin Department of Transportation recommended against allowing bicycles on the Hoan Bridge, it has promised an alternate route between downtown and Bayview, using an abandoned railroad right of way. In fact for several years this proposed trail appeared on the Milwaukee county bike map as an existing trail.
Finally, construction on the trail has started. Once constructed it will run between Washington and Maple Streets and form an alternative to 1st or 2nd streets, as part of the route between Milwaukee and Chicago.
Downtown-Bayview connector map (pdf)
Over at Bikeverywhere, I have put a series of posts identifying missing links, the opportunities where a bit of improvement will either open up additional bike routes or make the existing ones a lot more pleasant. Three in particular are for routes discussed on this site:
- The Milwaukee-Racine county line stretch, traditionally the worst part of the Milwaukee-Chicago route.
- Port Washington Road connecting Bayside and Mequon, the most dangerous part of the Lake Drive route between Milwaukee and Door County.
- Hales Corners, the most challenging part of the Milwaukee-Elkhorn route.
For years the section between 6-Mile Road in Racine County and Ryan Rd in Milwaukee was a challenge for bicyclists traveling between Chicago and Milwaukee and using bike trails (see my description of this route). A 1976 guide to Wisconsin bike routes along the entire Lake Michigan shoreline describes this as “the MOST DANGEROUS STRETCH” of the whole route. The direct route follows highway 32 which can carry quite heavy traffic. Recently the highway and its shoulders have been repaved which improved things somewhat but not enough. Between 6 Mile and 7 Mile roads, in particular, the shoulders are uncomfortably narrow. Closing of the rail crossing of 7 Mile Road as part of the expansion of the WE Energies plant added a mile to the stretch on highway 32. One can avoid highway 32 by using roads to the west but at the cost of adding a mile or two to the route.
Trail construction over the last few years has raised hopes that this gap would finally be filled. Unfortunately the result so far fall short of the need. But, with the placement of bike route signs in Racine county, the route, such as it is, appears to be semi-official. I describe it here traveling north, which has the advantage of avoiding four crossings of highway 32.
At the end of the unpaved Racine county trail at 6 mile Road, follow the new bike route signs west on 6 Mile, north on highway 32, and then east on 7 Mile to its dead end. A new unpaved trail starts there and goes north to the county line (the surface on this section is too rough for my taste; perhaps it will improve with use). At the county line, a new paved–and very nice–trail continues north to Elm Rd. Continue east on Elm, picking up a trail that loops south and then east, crossing railroad tracks through a kind of stile, and then follows a WE Energies plant road north to Oakwood Rd. Go west on Oakwood, north on Highway 32, and finally east at Ryan Rd. From there one can follow city streets to the Oak Leaf Trail in Grant Park.
Glendale has just opened a new bike trail running south from Mill Road along the former Interurban route to Sidney Place. Among other things, this trail connects a Glendale neighborhood isolated by two railroad tracks to the rest of Glendale.
For bicyclists traveling to Brown Deer Park (or further north along the Interurban Trail), the new trail offers an alternative to following the Milwaukee River Parkway. Going north, the new route starts with the recently repaved (mostly) trail that leaves the parkway before the first of two bridges crossing Lincoln Creek and continues northwest to Villard Avenue. Then the route continues west to 25th St. The route then goes north along 25th, with a few jogs until Sidney Place dead ends. The new path starts there and runs through a triangle formed by the intersection of three railroads. At the end of the path, the bicyclist can job east on Mill Road and then north on Range Line Rd to the park.
The Milwaukee parks department has plans to build a trail connecting the new trail with Brown Deer Park, also along the old Interurban right of way. More long range plans call for converting an abandoned right of way connecting the north end of the new trail to the existing Oak Leaf Trail that follows Wilson Drive south of Hampton. The railroad abandoned this track some years ago but apparently has still not called it excess.