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Hiking In Milwaukee: Top 15 Milwaukee Hikes

Guide to the best hiking trails Milwaukee has to offer, including the Milwaukee River trail and amazing hiking trails near Milwaukee

Hiking is a great way to make the most out of the great outdoors if you really want to connect to nature, hiking in Milwaukee opens a world of opportunities for young and old.

This stunning area of Wisconsin is covered in breathtaking scenery with new places to discover every time you visit.

Where to go hiking in Milwaukee, Aerial view of tall skyscrapers in various shapes sitting among areas of green grass with the coast and the sea visible behind

If you’re looking for a bit of adventure, Milwaukee and the surrounding areas have something for everyone.

You’ll find every from easy, family-friendly trails to challenging ones for those who want to test themselves against nature.

I have put together all my favorite Milwaukee trails and hikes near Milwaukee for you to enjoy on your next day out in the city.

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Overview: The Top 5 Places to go Hiking in Milwaukee

  • Milwaukee River Trail
  • Seven Bridges Trail
  • Holy Hill
  • Monches Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail
  • Hank Aaron State Trail

1. Seven Bridges Trail

Outdoor activities in Milwaukee, wooden bridge in the forest connecting the seven bridges hiking trail

Length: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Enjoy the fall colors in Wisconsin with a leisurely hike on the Seven Bridges Trail – one of the best things to do in Milwaukee in October.

This is one of the easier Milwaukee hiking trails, making it a fun family-friendly excursion.

I was able to easily complete the hike in about an hour but the views are so stunning that time seems to stand still. With that in mind, don’t feel like you need to rush.

Set out and gaze in awe at the stunning views; the trail is set along the tranquil shores of Lake Michigan with several brooks and enormous beech trees.

Your hike will begin at the Covered Bridge Entrance off of Lake Drive and it will take you through magnificent trees.

The trail features Lannon stone paths and footbridges which will give you the impression that you have vanished from civilization but you’re still surprisingly close to the city.

As you walk along the trail, revel in the best nature has to offer as this path is a must for weekend trips in Wisconsin.

Book here the best cabin rentals in Milwaukee

2. Hank Aaron State Trail

best hikes in Milwaukee, Shot of large bridge over a river with the bright sun shining behind it on a mostly clear day

Length: 6.7 miles

Difficulty: Easy

If you’re looking for things to do in Milwaukee with the kids, take them on a hike through the Hank Aaron State Trail.

This trail is perfect in any weather which makes it appealing to lovers of hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing.

It takes about 2 hours to hike this trail, even with all the stops I took to take in and enjoy the scenery.

Dogs are also welcome on this trail – but they must be on a leash – and my dog had a great time hiking it with me.

The landscape is stunning with a mix of natural beauty and the gorgeous visage of West Milwaukee.

This is one of the best walking trails Milwaukee has to offer and there is plenty to do and see while you explore this side of the city.

Buy here the best trail maps of Wisconsin

3. Green Tree Loop at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

the best hiking in Milwaukee, View of many lilypads sitting floating on the still waters of a lake

Length: 6 miles

Difficulty: Easy

The Green Tree Loop at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center offers hikers spectacular views all year round and is one of the best hiking trails in Wisconsin.

This trail combines a series of different trails and all of them are relatively flat which makes them easy to hike.

The Green Tree Loop is part of the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center which is North of Milwaukee.

What sets this Milwaukee hiking trail apart is that this offers varying landscapes which can change from treelined paths to fields full of wildflowers.

There is also an observation tower looking out over the preserve and a spectacular view of Lake Michigan.

The trail ends at the Mystery Lake Boardwalk where you’ll become acquainted with some of the local wildlife.

The Green Tree Loop trails are family-friendly and are perfect if you’re visiting and looking for things to do in Milwaukee with kids.

I recommend turning the hike into a game by getting the kids to spot as many different flowers, birds, and other wildlife.

Book here the best Milwaukee sightseeing tours

4. Lapham Peak State Park

Best hiking near Milwaukee Wisconsin, View looking down an outdoor flight of wooden steps set into the side of a hill all covered in fallen autumn leaves with green trees and shrubs either side

Length: 17 miles of trails

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or new to this fabulous activity, the trails at Lapham Peak State Park have something for everyone.

There are 17 miles of trails so you can take one of the shorter, easier ones if you just want a quick hike, or you can combine a few trails and really put your hiking skills to the test.

I’ve managed to tackle a few of the shorter trails and am working my way toward combining some of the more challenging ones as well.

The trails at Lapham Peak State Park also feature a 45-foot observation tower in Waukesha County and at 1233 feet above sea level, the views are definitely worth the hike.

You can enjoy some of the best hiking in Milwaukee but don’t forget to pack lunch because Lapham Peak also has some gorgeous picnic areas.

So you can take the time to eat in absolute tranquility while you replenish your energy reserves.

You can also take a stroll through the nature center and just enjoy getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Whichever path you choose for your hike, you’ll quickly fall in love with hiking in Milwaukee on trails like Lapham Peak.

Those looking for fun outdoor activities in Milwaukee will love spending the day hiking through Lapham Peak State Park.

Buy here the ultimate Wisconsin road trip itinerary

5. Milwaukee River Trail

amazing hikes in Milwaukee, view of Milwaukee skyline lit up at night, just after sunset
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA – skyline at sunset

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 7.8 miles

If you’re looking for a refreshing and invigorating way to spend your weekend in Milwaukee, look no further than the Milwaukee River Trail, also known as the Milwaukee River Greenway.

This beautiful trail spans 878 acres and is some of the best hiking trails in Milwaukee as it offers breathtaking natural scenery and the opportunity to stretch your legs and get moving.

The hike is suitable for all fitness levels and can be completed in around 2-3 hours, covering roughly 6 miles in total.

The starting point is located just north of Milwaukee and is easily accessible by bike, public transportation, or car.

As it’s an easy (and very scenic hike), the Milwaukee River Greenway is a lovely option when looking for things to do in Milwaukee with kids.

If you don’t want to drive far to start hiking near Milwaukee, the Milwaukee River Trail is one of the best options.

Book here an RV rental in Milwaukee, WI

6. County Grounds Park Loop

top hiking trails in Milwaukee Wisconsin, forest path covered in fall leaves

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 3.6 miles

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Milwaukee, get your family or friends together for an afternoon of hiking in the County Grounds Park Loop.

The best outings in nature are the ones that give you options and this hiking trail has some of the most spectacular views of Wisconsin as well as being home to birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.

Bird watchers love this neck of the woods and if you love taking photos, hit the trails at a leisurely pace so you can admire the landscape firsthand and capture the images you never want to forget.

The trails at County Grounds Park Loop are relatively easy to hike and this makes them appealing to families with kids and it has also become a popular spot for school excursions.

The almost decadent surroundings feature an old-growth forest in Sanctuary Woods and you might even get lucky and spot one of the endangered species that call the woods their home.

For those of us with extra time on our hands, you can even make the most of your hikes and become a volunteer.

Your contribution of time will help preserve this gorgeous corner of the earth and you’ll be able to discover something new in this area as the seasons change.

Book here the best cabin rentals in Milwaukee

7. Monches Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail

best hikes near Milwaukee, Neatly arranged raised wooden path leading through some dense forest with tall trees flanking the path at various points and vibrant green foliage covering the ground around the bridge

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Length: 3.7 miles

If you want to do more than just go hiking, add the Monches Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to your list of Wisconsin vacation ideas.

This is a trail that has to be experienced, especially in the fall when the views are spectacular.

This is a relatively easy trail consisting of 3.7 miles of level footpaths in the north of Waukesha County.

Most of the trail is very level but you’ll need a little extra effort in some areas.

Follow the trails along the Oconomowoc River with breathtaking views of crystal clear water and small brooks trickling along among ancient trees.

If you want to get more out of your weekend trips in Wisconsin, this area is sure to please.

It’s a great place for backpackers to explore and there are also places you can pitch a tent and experience this scenic trail under the stars.

Buy here the best trail maps of Wisconsin

8. Bender Park

fun hiking trails near Milwaukee, View looking down a low stream as it winds its way over many small rocks through dense green forest

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 3.7 miles

Trek into the trails of Bender Park and you’ll quickly forget that the city is right behind you.

This collection of 3 trails is popular with locals but once discovered by visitors, they often find any excuse to come back again and again.

The trails are a hidden secret that begs to be explored so if you’re looking to escape to nature, this is the place to do that.

While you pull on your hiking boots to explore Milwaukee’s surroundings, bike trails are also a big hit for those that love to power through at a faster pace.

These trails are quite easy with only slight gains in elevation along the way.

Best of all, when the weather is warmer you can take a dip at a small swimming beach and take a stroll at the pier.

Overall, when it comes to Milwaukee hikes, you can’t overlook all the marvels at Bender Park.

Book here the best Milwaukee sightseeing tours

9. Riveredge Nature Center

top walking trails Milwaukee offers, Close up shot of the back of someone's leg as they walk along a wooden path wearing low sneakers and three-quarter-length jeans

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 10 miles

The Riveredge Nature Center is open daily from early morning until nightfall but you might want to check out the visitor center hours to avoid disappointment.

There are 10 miles of some of the best hiking Milwaukee offers for you to explore within the 379 acres of land in this natural sanctuary.

Although there are a lot of trails to cover, it’s a relatively easy hike that is ideal for beginners as well as families with kids.

Harsh winters may be a nuisance to some but when this landscape is covered in snow, rug up and get outdoors.

Explore the many wonders including a stretch of trail along the Milwaukee River, stunning woods, and more.

Take advantage of these hiking trails in any season and if you’re looking for things to do in Milwaukee in winter, Riveredge Nature Center is the perfect escape.

Buy here the ultimate Wisconsin road trip itinerary

10. Milwaukee Lakefront – Veterans Park

Where to find the best Milwaukee hiking, View looking across a wide open field of green grass populated by many wandering geese with a backdrop of differently shaped skyscrapers all under a bright cloudy sky

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 3.1 miles

To enjoy some of the best hiking in Milwaukee, you don’t actually need to leave the city.

Take a scenic stroll along Milwaukee’s Lakefront Trail and combine a hike along the waterfront and still keep the city skyline within your sights.

One of my favorite things about this Milwaukee trail is getting to enjoy the contrast between nature and the city.

The path runs along Lake Michigan with some popular Milwaukee sites such as the McKinley Marina, Veteran’s Park, and the University of Wisconsin.

Hiking along the Milwaukee Lakefront is popular all year round but you’ll most likely see more people on the trails in the warmer months.

This is when the trail is frequented by people on wheels either riding their bikes or going for a jog.

You can also rent bikes in town and cycle around and really take in the scenery.

Romantic getaways in Wisconsin are quite popular with lovers holding hands while they explore the city from the tranquility of Milwaukee Lakefront.

There are plenty of places to stop along the way and you can also enjoy some great coffee or stop for a bite to eat.

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11. Havenwoods State Forest

best hiking in Milwaukee Wisconsin, curved path amidst fall trees

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 9.3 miles

To enjoy the best hikes in Milwaukee, you don’t even need to leave the city!

Havenwoods State Forest is situated in the heart of Milwaukee and boasts an impressive 237 acres of stunning forest.

The trail is mostly flat with a few gentle inclines which make the trail perfect for hiking.

It is also hugely popular with cyclists and one of few Milwaukee bike trails that allow you to combine the best of being in the city while also experiencing the best that nature has to offer.

Havenwoods State Forest has quite an interesting and long history.

In its early days, it housed the Milwaukee County House of Corrections and was also a US Army base before being transformed into Wisconsin’s only urban state forest.

You can also take a stroll through the gardens and the arboretum just a jump from the Nature Center and with ample parking, getting to the trails is easy.

Take your time when you arrive here as Havenwoods offers some of the best hiking in Milwaukee.

Pack a picnic lunch, cross over Lincoln Creek, and sit back watching the clouds roll overhead, or keep an eye out for some of the local wildlife that might venture out.

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12. Holy Hill

hiking trails near Milwaukee Wisconsin, Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Length: 7 miles

When searching for Southern Wisconsin hiking trails, you can’t overlook the beauty and charm of Holy Hill.

This is one of the best hiking trails near Milwaukee, WI, and is part of the Ice Age National Trail.

The trail leads through the hilly terrain through thick forest and leads to the twin towers of the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary at Holy Hill.

This beautiful neo-Romanesque church is perched right on top of the hill giving it an almost ethereal feel and it’s visible from several counties making it hard to miss.

This hiking trail poses no obstacles but as the terrain is hilly, it does offer a bit of a challenge.

Once you get to the summit of Holy Hill, be sure to climb to the top of the tower for some of the most majestic views in Wisconsin.

The views are popular all year but they are at their most grandiose in the fall when the leaves of the forest transform into a burst of golden color.

There is plenty to see and do on the Holy Hill trail and I am sure that everyone will build up an appetite during the hike and then you can treat yourself to a bite to eat at the snack shop right off the parking lot.

This is one of those perfect day trips from Milwaukee for locals and tourists and certainly not one you want to miss.

Buy here the best trail maps of Wisconsin

13. Scout Lake

best hikes around Milwaukee, hiking path through forest covered in fallen leaves surrounded by trees with sun poking through

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 1.67 miles

Weekend trips in Wisconsin offer the perfect opportunity to take kids out to explore the great outdoors and you can put Scout Lake on the list as one of the best hikes in Milwaukee for families.

The trail consists of a 1.67-mile loop near Greendale, which I found quite easy to walk, as most of the trail is paved.

Bring out the strollers and enjoy the lake with lots of beautiful vegetation and an impressive array of local wildlife.

You can also bring the family dog for a walk but do keep in mind that dogs must be on a leash to protect the local fauna.

Whether you’re out for a run or a leisurely afternoon walk, Scout Lake is the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon.

The trail takes a little over half an hour to complete and when the walking is done, you can sit back and relax while the kids go wild on the playground there.

Book here the best Milwaukee sightseeing tours

14. Nashotah Park

Fun Milwaukee trails, Shot of an empty lone part bench sitting in the middle of a green field with brown fallen leaves all around and some trees in the background

Difficulty: Easy

Length: 7 miles

Nashotah Park is the place to go if you’re looking for hiking trails near Milwaukee.

The trail consists of 7 miles that lead through the stunning landscape within the 444 acres that make up Nashotah Park.

The park is home to many different species of songbirds, waterfowl, and other feathered creatures.

If you’re lucky you might even be able to spot deer in the grasslands while hiking this trail.

The trails offer an easy hike through the park with a few gentle hills and a natural lake system.

The landscape in this area is most likely the result of the shifting of a glacier more than 10 millennia ago.

When you’ve completed the trail at Nashotah Park, head back to the city for some hiking in Milwaukee or simply sit back in one of the city’s many cafes or restaurants.

Buy here the ultimate Wisconsin road trip itinerary

15. Mequon Nature Preserve

best hiking near Milwaukee, View looking across the top of a wooden bridge with green trees and grass visible on the opposite side under a blue sky with clouds
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Difficulty: Easy

Length: 5 miles

A short drive from the city will bring you to some of the best hiking near Milwaukee, WI, and into the 444 acres that make up Mequon Nature Preserve.

There’s lots to see and do at the Preserve and you can head out on a new adventure every time by parking at one of the three different parking lots.

Each parking lot has its own access to the trail so this is a hike you can enjoy more often without it becoming boring.

Add four very different seasons to the area and you’ll be in awe at the changing visage before you with each visit.

Mequon Nature Preserve includes an observation tower near the parking lot on Swan Road and from here you’ll also get to see Pat’s Pond with its stunning boarded walkways.

If it’s wildlife you want to see, park the car at the Pieper Power Education Center and once you reach the Streich Family Wetlands, you’ll find the Observation Platform.

From here you can view the majestic landscape and hopefully spot some of the local critters.

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 Why Hiking In Milwaukee Is A Must

Our modern lives have resulted in many of us, leading very sedentary lives.

So heading out for some hiking in Milwaukee will get the family out of the house and give everyone a chance to explore nature.

The exercise will benefit everyone but the reason to check out the Milwaukee trails is important for the environment as well.

While checking out some of the best hikes near Milwaukee, and within the city too, you’ll notice that many places charge a small fee for cars or per person.

By visiting these places you’ll be helping to keep these hiking places popular and, more importantly.

You’ll be contributing to the preservation of these natural wonders for generations to come.

Whether you’re a local to the area or a visitor, hiking in Milwaukee should be on your list of things to do.

Humans have always had an adventurous spirit and exploring new places will never lose its magic and appeal.

Once you navigate your way around your first Milwaukee River trail, you’ll want to explore another and move on to many more hikes near Milwaukee and the surrounding areas.

Pull on your hiking boots and get out there and enjoy one of the best outdoor activities in Wisconsin!

Short FAQs About Hiking in Milwaukee

Does Milwaukee have hiking?

There are several trails within the Milwaukee city limits, and quite a bit more just outside of the city and the surrounding area.

Is Milwaukee a walkable city?

Milwaukee is considered to be one of the most walkable cities in the USA, and there are many hiking trails that run through the city.

How long is 7 bridges trail?

The Seven Bridges Trail in Milwaukee, Wisconsin is 2 miles long.

Before You Go: Top Tips for your Trip