Loop the Little Lake

Wisconsin

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Loop the Little Lake Facts

States: Wisconsin
Counties: Winnebago
Length: 3.5 miles
Trail end points: Friendship State Trail trailhead at Fritse Park (Fox Crossing) and Herb & Dolly Smith Park (Neenah):
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Boardwalk, Concrete
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 10462939
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Fishing, Wheelchair Accessible, Mountain Biking, Walking

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Loop the Little Lake Description

Loop the Little Lake, or the Loop, is a 3.5-mile circle of trails, bike lanes, sidewalks and parks around the lower half of Little Lake Butte des Morte in Wisconsin, just north of the larger Lake Winnebago. The Loop connects the cities of Menasha and Neenah as well as the Village of Fox Crossing both to the lake and to each other, making it valuable for both commuting and recreational use. Plus its 5k length makes it perfect for events like races and fun runs.

The first and most popular segment of the trail is the trestle bridge connecting Fritse Park in Fox Crossing to Menasha. The bridge is alternately known as the Fox Cities Trestle, or Fox Cities Trestle Trail. The bridge has benches where folks can pause to fish, to rest or to just take in the wide lake views. This 1600-foot segment happens to be a part of the Friendship State Trail but diverts from that trail once it reaches the landing at Menasha.

The second trestle, the Menasha Trestle takes users across a branch of Fox River and south onto Doty Island, whose northern half is technically Menasha and southern half considered part of the city of Neenah. Here the trail follows Fox Street past Shepherd Park and south past the wastewater treatment plant. At Abby River, you can follow the sidewalk along N Water Street, and past Cook Park down to the third bridge.

Bridge number three is the Neenah Trestle, also across a branch of Fox River. There is a covered observation point on the bridge, where you can sit and take in views of the lake facing west, or facing east, taking in the city panorama. The Neenah Trestle takes you into Arrowhead Park, an undeveloped green space on the lakeshore with 2000 feet of bike-ped trail. This is the southernmost point on the Loop.

From there you can take the Slough Trestle into the Herb and Dolly Smith Park, a birdwatching hotspot. To close the loop, walk or ride up the bike lane or sidewalk along N Lake Street through an industrial area. The greenery starts (and the off-street trail) begins once you get past Chapman Street. Eventually, the environment transitions to residential. Fritse Park is at the top of the road, where N Lake diverges into two roads.  

Whether you're trying to beat your best running time or prefer to quietly fish off one of the scenic trestle bridges, there’s something for everyone.

 

Parking and Trail Access

Going clockwise, these are the parks and facilities along the Loop: 

  • Fritse Park (Fox Crossing): This trailhead has a wide range of facilities, aside from parking and restrooms. These include bike repair stations, picnic tables, playground equipment and a boat launch for those desiring to get out on the lake. The park’s address is 937 N Lake St, Neenah.
  • Shepard Park (Menasha): Located on Doty Island, there’s no parking at this small park but there are restrooms and bike repair stations.
  • Cook Park (Neenah): Also on Doty Island, except in the southern half, this neighborhood park has no parking but features playground equipment for the little ones.
  • Arrowhead Park (Neenah): Although the park is undeveloped, there is parking just off the Neenah Trestle. There is also a bike repair station.
  • Herb & Dolly Smith Park (Neenah): You can park here and there are also seasonal restrooms. Other facilities include fishing deck, kayak launch, and picnic tables. This park is located at 167 N Lake St in Neenah.

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