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  • The Best Hiking Trails and Walking Paths around Milwaukee

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    The Best Hiking Trails and Walking Paths around Milwaukee

    The Best Hiking Trails and Walking Paths around Milwaukee

    Summer weather has finally arrived, and with it comes our favorite outdoor activities in Milwaukee! For us at Goodmiles, sunny days means it’s time to hit the trails. Whether you’re walking, running, or hiking, we wanted to kick off the season by sharing some of our favorite hiking trails and walking paths in and near Milwaukee. Check out our top picks for Milwaukee trails for families, beginning to advanced hikers, walkers, and more. Plus, read to the end for a few tips on picking out great hiking and walking shoes! 

    Enjoy the warm weather and beautiful scenery, running buddies – we’ll see you out there.


    Best Trails for Families In Milwaukee

    Retzer Nature CenterSummer activities for families in Milwaukee are plentiful, so it’s hard to pick a favorite place to go! For walking and hiking that’s accessible to all ages, we love local nature centers in Milwaukee and Waukesha.

    Schlitz Audubon Center has six miles of trails that are great for the whole family, from babies to grandparents. Many paths of this beautiful park are paved, so it’s accessible for strollers, wheelchairs, and all levels of walkers and runners. We especially recommend the Mystery Lake trail because it has a boardwalk that lets kids see turtles and frogs up close, plus it ends in an observation tower with great views of Lake Michigan. Before or after your hike, visit their Nature Center for kid-friendly educational resources and programming.


    For adventurous children who love the outdoors, we’re fans of Retzer Nature Center in Waukesha. Their Discovery Trail has “Exploration Stations” designed to give kids hands-on learning experiences as they walk. Other trail loops vary in length from .25 to 2.5 miles, so you can customize your visit based on your children’s ages and ability levels. Like Schlitz Audubon Center, their main building also has resources and programming for extra-curious kids.


    Best Milwaukee Hiking Trails for Beginners

    A great first-time hike in Milwaukee is the Greenfield Park Trail, which is just over a mile long. This paved trail includes a loop around a small lagoon as well as some wooded sections, so it’s a nice taste of nature for those with a time constraint or who are just getting into walking or running.

    A total of 9.3 miles but still relatively flat, Havenwoods Trail is part of Havenwoods State Forest in Milwaukee (which is the only urban state forest in the state!). This trail has scenery for everyone, from gardens to woods to wetlands. You can run and hike year-round, as well as bike in the summer and cross-country ski in the winter. Though it’s an easy route, it’s no less rewarding to enjoy on a beautiful day. 

    Havenwoods Trail

    Best Hiking Trails for Advanced Hikers Near the Milwaukee Area

    For more experienced hikers, the Zillmer Yellow Loop Hiking Trail at Kettle Moraine State Forest is a moderately difficult hike that is sure to satisfy. This loop trail is 5.2 miles and is primarily forested, featuring creeks and streams throughout. Many sections are hilly, which most hikers report as challenging but not overly so.

    Also part of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, the Pike Lake Trail is 3 miles of looping paths that showcase the geologically amazing hills and valleys of the Ice Age. Be prepared for lots of inclines and descents, and look forward to getting a birds-eye view of miles of scenery from a lookout tower you can climb along the way.

    Pike Lake Trail

    Easy Walking Paths in Milwaukee

    One of the most quintessential Milwaukee trails is the Hank Aaron State Trail. This 14-mile paved urban path goes past Milwaukee landmarks like the Mitchell Park Domes, the State Fair Park, and American Family Field. There are also sculpture and mural installations at a few places along the trail, so you can enjoy everything from nature to architecture to art as you appreciate what our beautiful city has to offer.

    Much like the Hank Aaron State Trail, the Oak Leaf Trail is a paved path that connects areas throughout the city. Of the seven main trail lines, about 25% of this trail goes along Lake Michigan, making it perfect for those looking to enjoy waterfront views as they walk or run. Both the Kinnickinnic Line and the Root River line connect with the Hank Aaron State Trail, so if you’re feeling ambitious, you can do parts of both all in one day!


    Milwaukee Trails with the Best Views

    The Ice Age Trail  is well-known in Wisconsin for having incredible views; it’s actually the only Wisconsin State Trail specifically named as a “National Scenic Trail.” It’s over 1,000 miles long, so we specifically recommend the Monches Segment. This section is about 3 miles in northern Waukesha County. It’s mostly wooded and crosses the Oconomowoc River, making it a peaceful escape from city life. Be prepared for a moderate difficulty level since parts of this trail are inclined.

    See Lake Michigan from the shores or from above at Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve in Ozaukee. A trail follows the bluffs above the lake, plus there's a bridge along the gorge, stairs down to the water, and boardwalk paths through wetlands. This trail is generally considered an easy walk, so it’s perfect for a relaxing trip or beginning runners.

    What to Look for in Hiking Shoes

    Picking the right hiking shoe is first and foremost about how comfortable your feet feel. However, here are a few things we recommend looking for in every hiking shoe:

    • Traction: Trails are often muddy and full of debris (rocks, pebbles, etc), so a good hiking shoe has a sole that’s made to grip the ground in any conditions. 
    • Stability & Support: Because the terrain of many trails is uneven and includes sections of incline and descent, it’s key that your shoes support not just your feet, but your ankles, too. Good hiking shoes will provide firm but comfortable support for your heels and ankles so that you don’t injure yourself as you walk or run.
    • Breathability: Your feet will get warm and sweaty as you hike, especially in hot summer months, so it’s important that your shoes have air circulation. Not only is this more comfortable for your feet, but it helps to prevent blisters, athlete’s foot, and other infections.
    • Durability: Hiking shoes are worn primarily outside, so they go through a lot more wear and tear than regular shoes. It's essential that they’re constructed with materials that are made to last in tough conditions.

    These are just a few elements that can make a hiking shoe great, but many more factors go into choosing the right style. Think about what environment you want to hike in and what concerns you might have about your foot health (such as overpronation, flat feet, etc). We recommend doing plenty of research before choosing your shoe – or even better, stopping in at Goodmiles to let our Fit Experts help you decide!

    Two hiking shoes we recommend are the New Balance Fresh Foam X More Trail V2 and Altra’s Olympus. The New Balance More Tail style has a Vibram outsole with superior grip, a firm but cushioned construction, and a breathable mesh upper that protects your feet from debris. Similarly, Altra’s Olympus offers underfoot protection with a thick, grippy outsole as well as a lightweight but secure upper. Shop both men’s and women’s versions of these styles in store and online.


    What to Look for in Walking Shoes

    If you’re going to get in a lot of miles with your walking shoes, you’ll want to understand your stride. Walking shoes tend to fall into one of three categories based on how much you overpronate. (This is how much your foot rolls inward when you move; doing so excessively can cause collapsed arches and flat feet)

    • Neutral Walking Shoes – This type of shoe is made for those who don’t overpronate. It doesn’t offer any correction of your stride. 
    • Stability Walking Shoes – Stability shoes are designed for those who overpronate slightly to moderately. It contains stiffer material under the arch and heel on the inside of your foot, which counteracts your foot’s natural tendency to roll inward.
    • Motion Control Walking Shoes – Made for those who severely overpronate, motion control shoes correct your stride through even thicker or stiffer material in the midsole than stability shoes. You’ll feel like your feet are being guided as you walk. 

    Many other factors come into play when choosing a walking shoe, but knowing how much you overpronate makes a big difference in what shoe will be the most comfortable for you. If you’re not sure which category you fall into, stop in one of our Goodmiles stores! Our Fit Experts will scan your feet and do a gait analysis to tell you exactly what kind of shoes will be your best fit.

    One of our favorite shoes constructed specifically for walking is Brooks’ Addiction Walker V-Strap. This is a motion control shoe, so it has maximum support and guidance for every stride. Shop both men’s and women’s styles in store and online.


    Stop by Goodmiles Before Hitting the Trails

    Before you start your summer adventures, stop by Goodmiles to get the perfect shoes! Our Fit Experts will make sure you get the shoe that matches your feet and your activities. You’ll be able to explore every trail and path in total comfort when you get the shoes meant just for you.



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