Local Hiking Guide

 

We both have a passion for sharing our love of the outdoors with our kids. We hope to instill appreciation for our state’s and specifically Washington County’s natural resources we’ve been given. Below is a list of hiking trails in our area that you may enjoy as well! If we’ve missed anything, please tell us! We love to share your experiences with other readers.

HikingShannon enjoying Wisconsin’s beautiful scenery with her family


Glacier Hills County Park –  1664 Friess Lake Rd, Hubertus

glacierhillsmap

Glacier Hills County Park, originally developed as St. Amelians Orphanage Youth Camp, became a Washington County Park in 1976. The park consists of 140 acres of land and includes approximately 1200 feet of frontage on Friess Lake. This park has 5 hiking trails that are relatively easy and beautiful views of Holy Hill as well. If you’re visiting in summer, bring bug spray on your hikes.


Ridge Run County Park – 300 S University Dr, West Bend

RidgeTrail
(Photo Credit: Paul Polter, Alltrails.com)

Located on the west side of West Bend, this park features trails running throughout a landscape of small lakes and hills. Great hiking to enjoy year round and dogs are welcome on a leash.


Riveredge Nature Center – 4458 County Hwy Y, Saukville, WI 53080

Riveredge Nature Center

With over 379 acres of land and ten miles of meandering trails, wild Wisconsin is closer than you imagine. Lose yourself in one of the most beautifully restored natural sanctuaries in southeastern Wisconsin. With prairies, woods, ponds, and over one mile of Milwaukee River shoreline, you’ll always have something new to explore at Riveredge! Special features for families include a natural playground, climbing rocks, snowshoe rental, and classes and special events all year-round featuring hands-on environmental education and adventure!


Lac Lawrann Conservancy – 300 Schmidt Road in West Bend

LacLawrann
(Photo Credit: Lac Lawrann Conservancy)

Are you looking for a place to take your kids to really enjoy nature? Then this is it! Lac Lawrann Conservancy is a 137-acre nature preserve. It is a vast expanse of water, sky, wetlands, native hardwood forest, red pine plantation, tall grass prairie, and glacial landscapes. The Conservancy serves as refuge to over 300 species of plants, over 200 species of birds, and a wide variety of mammals as well as reptiles and amphibians.

Lac Lawrann Conservancy has 4 miles of trails that lead hikers through deciduous woodlands to kettles, kames, an esker, as well as to ponds, wetlands, prairie, and a red pine plantation. Neighboring Royal Oaks Park adds another 1.5 miles of trails. Hiking trails include the Lake Loop, Railroad Spur, Esker, Northern Wetland, Pine Plantation, and Prairie Trails.

During winter, the conservancy offers 2.8 miles of groomed classical cross-country skiing on the Lake Loop, Pine Plantation, Railroad Spur, and Prairie Trails. Snowshoeing is encouraged on the Northern Wetland, Esker, and Railroad Spur Trails.

Although bicycles are not allowed on trails in the conservancy, their use is encouraged on the paved Eisenbahn Trail. A paved spur connects Lac Lawrann to the Eisenbahn Trail. The Eisenbahn Trail goes south through downtown West Bend to Rusco Road and all the way north to Eden in Fond du Lac County. For more information please visit (http://www.laclawrann.org/about).


Ozaukee Interurban Trail

Ozaukee Interurban Trail

Trail bridge over the Milwaukee River in Grafton
(Photo Credit: interurbantrail.us)

The Trail is a 30 mile paved trail, that connects the Ozaukee communities of Mequon, Thiensville, Cedarburg, Grafton, Port Washington & Belgium. The majority of the Trail is off-road and perfect for family enjoyment. Views along the trail in the Fall season include hardwood awoodland blazing with vibrant colors.

Explore the trail’s rich history – the route is based on the Interurban railway that once connected Ozaukee County to the City of Milwaukee and Sheboygan by electric train. Run, walk, bike, skate or ski – the trail can be used year-round.


Homestead Hollow County Park – N120 W19809 Freistadt Rd, Germantown

HomesteadHollowPark2
(Photo Credit: Washington County)

The 105 acre park is an old farmstead, and evidence of this can be seen in its barns which have been converted and updated into reservable shelters. Homestead Hollow has 5 very nice level walking trails making it easy for children. The longest trail is 1.7 miles and the shortest is .45 miles. They also have a wonderful sledding hill and ice skating rink in the winter and playground equipment. This was always a favorite park to come to as kids, and now we bring our own children here to explore along with our pets, too! (Remember to keep your pup leashed).


Ice Age Trail –  (Southern Holy Hill Segment) Starts at Pleasant Hill Rd. Ends at Donegal Rd.

HolyHillTravelWi
(Photo Credit: Travel Wisconsin)

The Ice Age trail is extremely long (It covers 1,000 miles across the state of Wisconsin) and is by far the most famous trail in our state. You can hike it all or just parts of it. But no matter if your walk is long or short, you will see gorgeous landscapes that were carved by glaciers. If you have a hiking bucket list, add this one! I’m going to touch on the Southern Holy Hill segment near us in Hubertus. I recommend this hike in the fall. The tree’s colors are amazing and the views from atop Holy Hill are stunning. The Southern Holy Hill segment begins at Pleasant Hill Rd. and travels 4 miles south through the Holy Hill grounds and terminates at Donegal Rd.

Due to the length, I would take older kids or if they’re little wear them in a carrier. We typically put our younger children in backpack carriers when doing lengthy trails.  While on this hike, you’ll essentially walk up a large kame (what is called Holy Hill) to a beautiful Basilica. Walk the 150+ stairs to the top of the church to see beautiful views. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Milwaukee!


Ledge Park –  N7403 Park Rd, Horicon

The park lies along the Niagara Escarpment, a natural rock ledge which divides the park into upper and lower areas and provides a breathtaking overlook of the famous Horicon Marsh and the surrounding countryside. The upper portion is heavily wooded and offers expansive picnicking areas, group shelter, hiking trails, 46 campsites, a restroom/shower facility, a dump station and the Fort Ledge Playground. The lower portion also offers a group shelter, picnic areas, hiking trails, a wildlife pond and play equipment. The hiking trails wind along the ledge, between and over interesting and unique rock formations and through heavily wooded areas. Ledge Park is located in the north central part of Dodge County, between Horicon and Mayville, just off of Hwy TW. Ledge Park is a convenient place to stay while exploring the Horicon Marsh, the Wild Goose State Trail, the Horicon Aquatic Center or the many other attractions in Dodge County.


Lion’s Den Gorge-  511 High Bluff Drive, Grafton

Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve represents one of the last stretches of undeveloped bluff land along the Lake Michigan shoreline, from Mequon up to Port Washington. Over 1/2 mile of 90- to 100-foot bluffs look out onto Lake Michigan, offering tremendous viewing opportunities for residents and visitors. Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve is also adjacent to a 44-acre wetland complex owned by United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for enhancing populations of migratory birds and other wildlife.

This park offers tremendous views. Stroll across bridges over the gorge or down the gorge stairways to walk along the Lake Michigan shoreline. This 73-acre park offers plenty of hiking trails, boardwalks through the wetlands, picnic areas, scenic views, and restrooms.

The trail does take you down to the lakefront but if you plan to take that route, prepare for a lot of steps!  I’d recommend a backpack/carrier for smaller children.


Retzer Nature Center – S14 W28167 Madison St. Waukesha, 53188

The Center works to preserve and maintain over 450 acres of prairie, forest, wildlife habitat, nature trails and environmental learning facilities in Waukesha County.  They have a state-of-the-art planetarium, information on local plant species, special events, and a variety of hiking trails for your next adventure!


Schlitz Audubon Nature Center – 1111 East Brown Deer Rd. Milwaukee, 53217

Once a farm for the Schlitz Brewery draft horses, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is Milwaukee’s comprehensive nature center. They offer six miles of trails that take visitors through 185 unique acres of forests, wetlands, restored prairies, ravines, bluffs and Lake Michigan shoreline. You will see evidence of their active and progressive management of the land, restoring habitats unique to our region and reclaiming our bountiful natural history. With leading experiential, environmental education for people of all ages, Schlitz Audubon is both a destination for adventure and an oasis from the busyness of life. Schlitz Audubon is a designated Important Bird Area because of the habitat provided by the lake for certain waterfowl. They are also a birding hot spot because of their location within a migratory flyway.


Eisenbahn Trail

The Eisenbahn trail is a 25-mile, county-operated trail which extends from the historic city of West Bend into the scenic countryside of eastern Wisconsin past the glacial landscape of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Built on a former railroad corridor, the history of the trail is remembered in the title “Eisenbahn,” a German word for railroad. The trail passes through the communities of West Bend, Kewaskum and Campbellsport, ending in Eden at the village park. Washington and Fond du Lac counties maintain and manage the Eisenbahn State Trail. http://www.co.washington.wi.us/uploads/docs/EisenbahnTrail_Map_6_09.pdf

The paved, even trail makes this a great one for kids and adults, alike!


Are you a regular hiker? Please share your favorite trails with us. We love hearing your experiences!