Lake Michigan Pathway


Lake Michigan Pathway Facts

States: Wisconsin
Counties: Racine
Length: 10 miles
Trail end points: 3 Mile Rd. at Douglas Ave. and Chicory Rd. (Racine)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Concrete, Crushed Stone
Trail category: Greenway/Non-RT
ID: 6418498
Trail activites: Bike, Wheelchair Accessible, Mountain Biking, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Lake Michigan Pathway Description

The Lake Michigan Pathway extends 9.8 miles along the Racine lakeshore. On the north side of Racine, it connects to Racine County's MRK trail at 3 Mile road and South Street. On the south side of Racine, it connects to Racine County' North Shore Trail at Chicory Road. With a connection to the Root River Pathway at the Main Street bridge, you can access many Racine attractions, by bike or on foot, including the DeKoven Center, Pershing Park, Downtown Racine, North Beach and the Racine Zoo.

Racine County's eastern edge is home to two rail-trails plus a stellar connecting trail between them. Because the county standardized its signs a few years back you won't see specific rail-trail names on display (look for Racine County Bikepath signs), but this description is for the MRK Trail as well as the Northshore Trail and Lake Michigan Pathway, spanning 15 miles from the southern county line to just shy of the northern county line. (This route is also known as the Northshore/MRK Trails.)

Start from the Northshore Trail, and head north on a crushed limestone surface. (You will also see signs for the Kenosha County Bike Trail that connects here and runs south through Kenosha to the Illinois line.) On the rail-trail, greenery surrounds you, masking residences that border the path. The trail quickly becomes classic Wisconsin farmland scenery. This is an easy flat and peaceful route for walking or biking. After crossing 19th Street, the Northshore Trail ends, but a seamless connection continues north on the Lake Michigan Pathway.

The Lake Michigan Pathway is not a rail-trail but a connector between the Northshore and MRK rail-trails. It is a series of on-road segments and paved off-road paths along beautiful Lake Michigan, through downtown Racine and its fantastic waterfront harbor, and to the famous Northshore Beach Park. There is plenty to do and see on this route, from shopping and dining in downtown Racine to the terrific playground (a fee applies) in Northshore Beach Park.

On the hill above Northshore Beach you will find the Racine Zoological Park. Following the path north, you will pass below the zoo and then have a steep climb back into a residential area. Several major street crossings end this section near the Layard Avenue entrance to the MRK Trail. The MRK Trail (named for the Milwaukee-Racine-Kenosha Railroad that traveled this route) winds up this trip with a 5-mile run to Six Mile Road. This section has an industrial feel to it: an active Union Pacific rail line shares the route, and power lines drape the trail. The surface here returns to crushed limestone. You will notice a very gradual incline as you travel north, which is good news for the swift trip back to the southern end of this county corridor.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available in Racine. On the north side of Racine, the pathway connects to the MRK trail at 3-Mile Road and South Street. On the south side of Racine, the pathway connects to the North Shore Trail at Chicory Road.

Lake Michigan Pathway Reviews

We rode from Gateway Technical College north. The path along the lake was fantastic and we rode out to the lighthouse out on the pier. The lighthouse is nothing special, but it was fun to ride out on the pier. We continued north along the beach. The couple of hills were do-able, though my wife struggled a bit with her 7-speed. We were soon dumped onto the streets and had to follow the signs to figure out where we were going. We eventually stopped at a gas station and thought about turning around. At that point we realized we were close to the Wind Pointe Lighthouse, so we left the trail and rode there. That was a detour that was VERY worthwhile!! It was one of the best kept grounds we've seen at an old lighthouse. While the roads didn't have wide shoulders to accommodate bikes, the people who were driving on the road were clearly used to folks biking out to the lighthouse and the traffic was light. There was a bike rack at the lighthouse to lock up, but volunteers were doing landscaping right next to the bike rack so we didn't need to lock up. The ride back was a little more comfortable since we knew that we'd have some road riding, though it felt like much less on the return trip. The trip south only had one uphill ride.

Apart from the road riding at the north end, we really enjoyed the trail. Taking the detour off the trail to the lighthouse was definitely a highlight and the best part of our ride.

Paved path with scenic views of Lake Michigan,long clean beaches,path meanders through Racine harbors with some challenging hills on the North side of the trail

I liked this trail. Good change of scenery along the way. Plenty of curves in the road and no overly difficult elevation changes. Just watch out for pedestrians on this multi-use trail.


It's a nice enjoyable ride along the Racing lakefront, but be prepared for steep hills you have to go up and it can be a challenge for some. You'll enjoy the ride down them though and it also goes past the Racine Zoo always interesting to go ride past there. You enjoy everything the lakefront has to offer and eventually it connects with the Racine county trail which is crushed stone or you can keep riding past the entrance and connect with the Root River pathway.

It's a nice ride and buzzing with activity and trail users and some nice sights to enjoy that make the ride enjoyable, but be prepared for the hills.

Happy riding everyone!

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