A 9-mile trek through Milwaukee takes you to the public market, wooded paths, historic homes, public art, lakeside bluffs—and lots of stairs.

By Ann Hinga Klein; Illustrator: Marissa Johnson
Milwaukee urban hike

Melanie Radzicki McManus, who designed this hike for us, has twice thru-hiked the 1,100-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin. She has also hiked Iceland's Laugavegur Trail. "This route has it all," says Melanie. "While it takes you through the heart of the city, you'll also experience woodlands, wildflowers and seabirds." It should take about 4.5 hours to do this hike with stops along the way.

Milwaukee urban hike

1) Grab some trail mix at Milwaukee Public Market before working your way to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

2) Run some of the staircases on the museum grounds to boost your cardio workout, then hop onto the Oak Leaf Trail into Juneau Park, spying Lake Michigan as you cut through to North Prospect Avenue. Turn right onto the pedestrian path at East Brady Street.

3) Cross the Brady Street Bridge and head north onto the Oak Leaf Trail along the east side of North Lincoln Memorial Drive. Cross at Lafayette Hill Road; continue north on the west side of the road.

4) Pass the McKinley Park soccer field and cross the grass to the stairs leading up through the woods to Back Bay Park. Turn right onto Terrace Avenue and stroll north among its elegant historic mansions.

5) At East Water Tower Road, take one of the dirt paths down to North Lincoln Memorial Drive and cross it. Enjoy the view at Bradford Beach, then take the bridge back over North Lincoln Memorial Drive. Turn left onto the blacktop path, then follow the dirt path on your right through the woods and up to North Wahl Avenue. Turn left and head south on North Wahl Avenue.

6) Cross the green space at North Point Tower and head south on North Lake Drive. Cut west to North Prospect Avenue, then take East State Street west to the RiverWalk, where you can snap a selfie with the Bronze Fonz statue. Cross the Milwaukee River at East Wisconsin Avenue. Continue west to Sixth Street. Take a left and go south.

7) Cross the Sixth Street bridge, passing the Harley-Davidson Museum. Just before The Iron Horse Hotel, take the staircase to the Hank Aaron State Trail. Head east, then take a left onto Freshwater Way.

8) Enjoy an ice cream flight or a cone (how about beer-and-pretzel flavored?) at Purple Door Ice Cream before heading back to the market.

Read about our urban hikes in Chicago and Indianapolis.

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