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24 Hiking spots near Milwaukee

I began an adventure blog and started sharing places my kiddos and I have been exploring, but I also wanted to include a bunch of places we went before I started sharing these awesome places with you guys!

Note: Dogs are welcome in Wisconsin State Parks but must be on a leash.

The Seven Bridges hiking trail at Grant Park in South Milwaukee is famous for the sign which you walk beneath at the trailhead reading: "Enter this wild wood and view the haunts of nature." Local teenagers have interpreted this phrase as a warning of paranormal activity; however, the word 'haunt' in this context means 'the place nature inhabits.'

This is my favorite place in Milwaukee. It is the best of both worlds with the wooded hike that leads you to a beautiful beach overlooking Lake Michigan.

On the seven bridges trail you will find it has a few things you won't want to miss, a beautiful lannon stone trail, a wooded ravine trail and seven bridges which cross a babbling brook that spills out into Lake Michigan at a pristine natural beach.

The center's 220 acres are located within the beautiful 660 acre Whitnall Park in southwestern Milwaukee County. The only nature center located in the southern half of Milwaukee county, Wehr has over five miles of trails linking the center's natural communities: the Woodland, Wetland, Prairie, Oak Savanna and Lake.

This is our local nature center and I have seen every inch of this place. It has two piers that overlook the beautiful lake. A rustic bridge, pines, a bird watch area, a prairie and a gorgeous small waterfall that you can get up close and personal to see and explore. You can get to the waterfall two ways, one, by taking the prairie trail down to the lake. Two, by taking a left across the bridge before you enter Wehr and just hiking down the small hill. They have wood chip trails, dirt trails and quite a bit of paved trails for easy hiking, especially with those little ones.

I've seen many deer and lots of butterflies.

It is located next to the botanical gardens so explore them both if you have time.

A heads up: There is a $3 parking fee at Wehr.

Located a short distance from the formal gardens, the Trial Garden is well worth a visit. It is, in fact, the cutting edge of horticulture here at Boerner. Devoted to objectively evaluating the overall regional performance of newly developed plant varieties, the Trial Garden is beautiful, informative and internationally significant.

Where ever you look, you see beautiful plants and flowers. The smell alone should have you coming back multiple times. There's also a cool little hidden waterfall straight back down a few steps. Hands down the most peaceful place to go!

My friend showed me this place and boy oh boy am I glad she did.

It is such a hidden gem! and is absolutely gorgeous in the fall.

There is a large sand based park for the kids and plenty of picnic areas. Then take the paved trail down to the beach overlooking Lake Michigan. As you walk down enjoy the beautiful sounds of waves crashing. It's such a peaceful hike down to a relaxing destination. This is usually the least crowded beach of the Milwaukee beaches. There isn't a lifeguard here, no changing facilities other than a portable toilet at the beach level. Doctors park is located next to Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, another amazing place.

In May, watch for the ephemeral beauty of wildflowers in the wetlands and forested areas. June is the celebration of basking, with turtles and frogs sunning throughout the ponds. Enjoy exploring this celebration of rebirth on the six miles of trails and Lake Michigan shoreline.

It's especially beautiful in the spring when filled with migrating birds, and in fall when the tress turn color and you can find chestnuts have fallen on the ground. This places is so beautiful no matter what time of the year you go and there's something here for everyone. Grab a souvenir at the nature store located in the building and find a relaxing seat as you plan your hike.

Adults: $8 Youth (3-17) $5

An excellent example of a glacier moraine with rugged terrain, wooded trails and picturesque views of Holy Hill. There is 1200 feet of Friess Lake frontage. The park is excellent for bird watching. A large hall and chapel may be reserved for groups. Picnic area, hiking trails, snowmobile trail access, fishing, play fields, basketball court, play equipment, sand volleyball & swimming beach available.

The pine area off to the side is so peaceful and beautiful. It was a foggy day when we went and the wooded areas looked so magical. There was no one else there when we went so we had this whole area to ourselves.We did a lot of exploring and free playing.

This trail is not well known but boy is it a cool place to hike. When you pull up their is a beautiful display of pine tress. As you start walking you come across a couple old historic buildings and a little creek right behind it. The kids love playing in the creek, when it's warm of course. Which was not the case the last time we went. The Stute Springs and Homestead Nature trail has about 2 miles of hiking trail running through an old farm homestead. The trail incorporates a self-guided tour illustrating farm life in the early 1900s. Mix of woods, prairie, and wetlands with historic farm buildings.

The Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest is located in the middle of the Kettle Moraine, a strip of glacial landforms which extends through southeastern Wisconsin to Lake Winnebago.

Pike Lake offers several miles of hiking trail. Nine different hiking trails provide you with an amazing scenery.

Hikers will pass through wetlands, maple, oak, and basswood stands, open prairies, and a variety of glacial terrain.

There is so much to do at this amazing State Park. Fishing, camping, boating, swimming at the beach, a nice playground and of course hiking.

My son loved the more difficult trails, his independence really kicked in and he wanted to hike up the steep hill all by himself. This is just one of many trails, there are plenty of much easier trails.

After a two hour hike we decided to relax by the lake. Both kids enjoyed playing in the sand and on the playground as we watched the amazing sunset.

Guys! This place is so incredibly magical. From the vantage point of the cliff and especially from the 40-foot observation tower, you can see the cities of Appleton, Oshkosh, Neenah, Menasha and Kaukauna. Each trail is looped (which is nice) and vary in length. The Lime Kiln ruins is what really caught my eye. The structures were so magnificent and to read all the history right there on the information boards was a plus. The ruins are gated off, but shhhh don't tell anyone, we snuck in to see it up close and personal. This place has so much to offer. Definitely plan to come for the whole day because an hour or two is just not enough time to really explore and admire this places beauty and soak in all the history.

Lions Den Gorge Lion's Den is a 73 acre natural area set along the slumping bluffs of Lake Michigan. With over 1/2 mile of 90-100 foot bluffs. There are 3 miles of wide and groomed hiking trails, boardwalks through wetlands, a giant staircase that descends through layers of cedar forest, a salmon spawning stream, a few miles of beach front, a pond, and the deep and verdant ravine called Lion's Den. The view from the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan are just so beautiful! Camping is available at the Lions den and wow that morning sunrise and sunset is gorgeous! If you bring your children here, you must keep a very close eye because there are no railings or fences in certain parts. If you choose to walk right up to the edge of course. The hiking trail is not tightly on the bluff so no need for worry there. Picnics and portable toilets are available.

Retzer Nature Center The pines here are just unbelievably mesmerizing! And a big hill with quite the view is a must see, especially at sunset. Go for a hike then go inside and check out the gorgeous learning center and planetarium. There is so much to explore and so many surreal spots to just stop and unwind.

Kohler-Andrae State Park There are no better sand dunes than at Kohler-Andrae and the kids love to explore them. The parks contain over two miles of beaches and sand dunes along the shore of Lake Michigan with woods and wetlands away from the water. The boardwalk over the black rover marsh is pretty memorable on its own. The sand dunes are very tall and the boardwalk is long so for a while you are secluded and boy is it nice and relaxing.

Lapham Peak State Park First climb the 45 foot observation tower atop the highest point in Waukesha County nd offers a dynamic view of southeastern Wisconsin and the northern edge of Illinois. An abundance of wildlife and wildflowers, and a butterfly garden are present in the park. Don't miss the butterfly garden, you will love it as much as the kids. Lapham Peak has more than 17 miles of loop trails in the forest that vary in difficulty.

$8 day $5 one hour

Scuppernong Trail head These pines caught my eye as soon as we pulled up. I got really excited when I saw this trail because winter or summer the pines are so tall and beautiful you just feel lost in the woods. In a good way. We found a beautiful tree right off the trail and wow was it magical. We sat there and just enjoyed the simple things. We got so caught up in the trees themselves that we didn't really go far. I can't wait to go back to explore more. And don't worry, I'll share our adventure and pictures with all of you!

Devils Lake We all have seen pictures and heard how beautiful Devils lake is. And I'm here to tell you all that you've heard is True! Me and my husband stayed camped in one of the two tepees and it was perfect! We got up early and hiked to the top and saw the beautiful scenery and visited each highlighted point. Then we relaxed on the beach for the rest of the day. Such a scenic place full of adventure. I have not hiked here with my kids yet but I will be camping and hiking here in the next few months and will share our experience with you then.

Pope Farm became a park/conservancy as recently as the year 2000.

Pope Farm Conservancy is 105 acres that sits on top of three recessional moraines in the Town of Middleton, Wisconsin, where three different watersheds come together. A 360 degree panoramic view of Lake Mendota, the Capitol and Madison’s west side can be seen to the east, the Black Earth Creek valley to the North, and the terminal moraine to the South and West.

Six different Prairie Restoration projects and seven different crops including a field of sunflowers provide tremendous synergy that attracts wildlife to the conservancy. Forty interpretive signs follow the historical aspects of the land. They start with the Glaciers and land formation, followed by the Native Americans, settlers, the CCC project in the 1930’s, to today’s methods of erosion control. These features and their interpretation have resulted in making Pope Farm an educational conservancy.

The Native American garden is designed to educate the public about the remarkable contribution made by the Native Americans to agriculture. Many of the features of the land are taught as part of local fourth grade curriculum, which has resulted in many lesson plans and field trips.

All of this, combined with eight miles of walking trails and picnic areas provide the visitor with an unforgettable experience.

Sunflower Days at the Pope Farm Conservancy has become a beautiful annual event for many thousands of people. Visitors from near and far come to see this visual phenomenon…a 9-acre sunflower field with over a half million sunflowers in bloom! Sunflowers are estimated to bloom July 23rd-31st. You do not want to miss this magical experience!

Bong State Park Bong is near my home town so I've been going there for some time now. It is a beautiful state park. It's a lot of flat trails so if you are looking for a relaxing place to walk and talk with some friends and let your kids run around this is a good place. My main love for this state park is they have a trail specifically for ATVs and dirt bikes. Which was my number one hobby as a kid. There is a wildlife preserve where great egrets, sand hill crane and great blue herons are known to rest. This managed prairie contains 8.3 miles of mountain bike trails along with areas to do other recreational activities including high power rocketry, swimming, dog sledding, land sailing, fishing, camping, horseback riding and hunting.

Aztalan State Park As I mentioned above, dirt biking used to be a big part of my life so when someone asked me if I've been to Aztalan I said yes. Thinking they meant Aztalan motocross track. I had no clue there was a Aztalan state park. Doing a little research I saw Aztalan state park and said to myself "ohhhh" the Native America history behind Aztalan really pulled me int and being Native American I just had to go. I went the next day and was blown away by the ruins. My son saw the massive earthwork mounds and took off running. He climbed to the very top and enjoyed the scenery. The park showcases an ancient middle-mississippian village and ceremonial complex that thrived between 1000-1300 A.D. The park is mostly open prairie with 38 of its 172 acres in oak woods. Northern pike, catfish, and walleye are caught in the Crawfish River, which is also used for boating and canoeing. We had a blast going it what used to be homes and exploring the amazing structures. We happened to catch the sunset too and boy was it beautiful!

Big Foot Beach State Park Can you say stunning view! As you enter the park right across the street from the big beautiful Lake Geneva. There is a lakeside picnic area and 6.5 miles of hiking trails through forest and open meadow. It is a very nice state park with the most beautiful lake view.

Harrington Beach State Park Harrington is one of those places that can be a bit overwhelming. You really have to be an explorer to really find all the cool spots. Luckily I have my own personal Christopher Columbus who goes where ever he feels and usually always finds the best spots. Usually. 😛 There is a beautiful fishing pond and pier surrounded by pine trees that is just so magical to just sit. Then we wandered. We usually don't grab a map because I feel it somewhat loses the sense of adventure. I've always liked to just get lost. Even as a kid myself me and my brother got lost in a desert in Arizona. We were lost for a good 6 hours. It was scary but it was definitely and adventure. So I let Lorenzo pick his path and we walked. He picked all the right turns because we ended up at this amazing waterfall. We went off trail a couple times but we got here. And boy was it something. The view was gorgeous.

Moraine Hills State Park- Illinois Driving through Illinois I knew I had to take advantage of being out this way so I quickly did a little research and put Moraine hills state park into my GPS. A half hour later we arrived. The kids were in the car for 2 hours already that morning so it was perfect to get out and stretch our legs a bit. Little did I know how big this state park was. We hiked about an hour on the wooded trail and saw beautiful trees and parts overlooking a huge pond. Beautiful site! There is a huge marsh right across the parking lot so we spent an hour exploring the marsh looking for wildlife. Unfortunately we didn't see much but that's probably because we came during the winter months. Such a beautiful state park.

Pikes Peak State Park - Iowa Ok, this one isn't 2.5 hours from Milwaukee, more like 3.5 but I had to include it beacause it is so amazing!

Featuring a 500-foot bluff with multiple overlooks of the upper Mississippi River opposite the confluence of the Wisconsin River. Pikes Peak State Park is a hiker's delight with eleven and a half miles of trails. On its trails, hikers can explore beautiful wooded bluffs and valleys. Along the trails, hikers will see sheer walls of Decorah limestone, and fossil remains including brachiopods, gastropods and cephalopods. The trail goes past Bridal Veil Falls, a refreshing spring There are many stairs so if you are bringing child I suggested carrying them in a carrier. Strollers will not make it. But trust me it's well worth it. Lorenzo was mesmerized by the trees, fossils and waterfall. He especially found it quite awesome seeing mommy and daddy take turns adventuring into the waterfall. You have to hike down a steep hill off trail to get in the waterfall but I just had to check it out.

Atwater Park I was turned onto this place by a family member and it is quite the park. 5 acres of open space featuring a sandy beach, public art, a playground and scenic lake views. The beach and playground are at the bottom of the bluff and on your way down be prepared for some beautiful views. You can take the stairs down or a paved trail. We brought our dog, Chuck, he really enjoyed the lake and the sandy was easy on the paws.

Hawthorn Glen Park Some friends of mine suggested we meet for a play date at Hawthorn Glen, my husbands old stomping grounds but since I'm from Burlington I had no clue this place was near by. It's my new favorite park. It's tucked in the back off the road. Had hiking trails through some woods. Plenty of open space to run freely. Two playgrounds next to each other. Bleachers, a field and my favorite part, a educational center. After an adequate amount of playing we decided to stop inside. The employee was kind enough to give us a tour and took us to see the exotic animals inside. He took the time and told a story of each of the animals. The kids were in awe of seeing these cool animals up close.

Check out my previous adventure blogs for more from places!

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