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In 1957, baseball legend Hank “The Hammer” Aaron led the Milwaukee Braves to the first of two consecutive World Series appearances and a championship over the usually dominant New York Yankees. In 2004, the State of Wisconsin opened the first segment of the Hank Aaron State Trail, commemorating his many accomplishments as a ballplayer. Aaron’s baseball successors, the Milwaukee Brewers, now play at Miller Park, within sight of the trail.
The trail, which spans the breadth of Milwaukee County, begins at Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee, where it overlooks Lake Michigan to the east and provides breathtaking views of the downtown Milwaukee skyline to the north. Ample parking is available under the Hoan Bridge, south of the Summerfest Grounds, which movie buffs may recognize as the site of a famous chase scene from the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers.
Riders heading west will make their way through a brief on-street section, passing through the thriving Historic Third Ward, and emerge to pick up the trail again in the Menomonee River Valley. Attractions are numerous in this resurgent part of town; fans of another form of two-wheeled transport might stop by the Harley-Davidson Museum off North Sixth Street.
Continuing west, riders can take the Valley Passage across the Menomonee River to visit the Urban Ecology Center, Three Bridges Park, and the historic Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (“The Domes”). Returning to the main trail, fans will recognize Miller Park baseball stadium with its retractable roof.
The Soldiers Home Historic District lies between Miller Park to the north and the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center to the south, providing a historic contrast with its modern neighbors; this was a place for veterans of the Civil War to recuperate before reentering society. Emerging west of the Soldiers Home, the path straightens and stays level for most of the way to the trail’s western endpoint. At South 84th Street, the trail connects to the Oak Leaf Trail, which traces a messy figure eight throughout the Milwaukee metro area.
The trail terminates at another meeting point with the Oak Leaf Trail, this one just west of 121st Street.
To reach the eastern trailhead at Lakeshore State Park from I-43, take Exit 72B toward Lakefront. After 0.8 mile, merge onto I-794 E., and keep right to stay on I-794 E. After 0.2 mile, take the exit on the left toward N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., and go 0.3 mile. Turn right onto N. Lincoln Memorial Dr., and go 0.4 mile. Turn left onto E. Polk St., and then make an immediate right on an unnamed road. Go 0.2 mile, and then turn left to cross under I-794—note that this road may be closed at certain times or on certain days. In another 0.2 mile, look for parking on your right after the crossing.
Parking and trail access are also at Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, south of the trail at 524 S. Layton Blvd. in Milwaukee. From I-94 heading north, take Exit 311 toward SR 59/National Ave., following the exit about 0.5 mile north and then west. Turn right onto S. Ninth St.—look for the signs for SR 59/National Ave./Harley-Davidson Museum. Turn left at the first cross street onto W. National Ave. Go 1.3 miles, and turn right (north) onto S. Layton Blvd. In 0.3 mile, turn right into the parking lot for Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory. You can access a trail spur on the left side of The Domes (if you’re facing the complex) that heads north and west through Three Bridges Park, then south to the trail spur at the Urban Ecology Center.
Initially, the Hank Aaron Trail ran slightly downhill through older neighborhoods on the outskirts of town, past single family post-war homes visible through the trees. It was a tree-lined, single car-lane sized concrete trail, meaning there was room for two bikes across, but not three. We were warned by another biker not to miss a sharp left turn ahead, which we found (following him) as we neared the very cool American Family Insurance Stadium.
Continuing towards the waterfront, the trail became a wide sidewalk alongside a fairly quiet industrial avenue lined with unused railroad boxcars. Beyond them was an active railroad yard and tracks that we crossed as the Milwaukee skyline came into view. Nearing downtown and the beginning of several waterways where small pleasure boats were moored, we passed the Harley Davidson Museum.
Signage got very spotty as the route became more complicated and we had to refer to TrailLink a couple of times after we crossed over the downtown river. We ended up riding on the city streets and sidewalks of the Historic Third Ward area. At that point, we abandoned trying to follow the trail (it ended somewhere nearby) and headed toward a descending drawbridge over a canal lined with sailboats.
While a large network of walking/biking paths crisscrossed the entire area, we rode close to the rocky revetments and corrugated iron seawalls that kept the Lake at bay. There appeared to be lots to see and do on the Lakefront: we passed an outdoor amphitheater, a small red lighthouse, other performing venues, a building designed to look like a large ship’s prow (Milwaukee Art Museum), Discovery World science and technology center, and more. The promenade eventually ended on a long, wide jetty, beyond which was McKinley Marina.
We found good beer and award-winning fried cheese curds at a brewery/restaurant north of downtown.
Really nice trail to walk or ride bikes. Good place to take your dog for long walks. Many access points. Even has an access point to Miller Park for bikers or trail hikers. Just wish they had a few trash receptacles every mile or so. Maybe then more people would pick up after their pooches.
Mel & I drove from Raleigh to Milwaukee to see the Braves play the Brewers for a Mon-Wed series. We brought the Tandem bike. On Mon-Tues we rode out 6.2 miles from the west trail end-point to the Three Bridges Park and back. For convenience, We parked @ the Target parking lot. Along this section, The trail is mostly flat, well-paved, and very clean. It passes behind some industrial complexes, the State Fair complex, and some residential subdivisions. The street crossings requiring more care, were few, as the major street intersections utilized trail overpasses! As baseball fans, we felt honored to ride the HANK AARON TRAIL! If I come back with my single trail bike, I would love to ride the entire trail, and also the Oak Leaf Trail which joins up right where we began our ride!
For the past few years the section of the trail has been closed while the Zoo Interchange was reconstructed. It is now open (and paved) all the way to the Oak Leaf Trail at Blue Mound and the Underwood Parkway.
A nice ride with only 2 hills.
The areas around the trail especially in the three bridges park are quite bare currently.
I really wish that there were permanent "available/not locked" bathrooms along the trail itself besides at the urban ecology center and the seasonal port-o-potties during baseball season...Would be nice also if there was a light fixture on the bridge itself that is the exit of the three bridges park.
Otherwise this long trail that goes in different directions is pretty awesome. I've seen skunks and even frogs a few times last summer...
Rode the trail for about 6 miles, from downtown to Miller Park. Just enough other riders, so I didn't feel alone and plenty of urban awe along the way.
I recently rediscovered this trail.I haven't been on this trail for 5 or 6 years.It's only about a ten minute car ride from my house to the 94th place starting point.In the past I never went past where Canal rd. started.This time I took it all the way to the light tower by Summerfest.What a great ride,and it was 8 miles to get there.Once down by the lakefront,there are a lot of places to ride or relax.This ride really shows you what Milwaukee is all about,it has a little of everything.I love it,and I think I am going to be riding it a lot this summer.
There is new signage in the 116th ST. & W. Washington St. area directing you to the Oak Leaf Trail if you are trying to connect from the detour of the Hank Aaron in that area, north of Greenfield Park. Although the Hank Aaron trail between W. Blumound Rd and the 94th St. detour is still under construction, if you have a trail bike, it is passable, although there are some shaky areas. It is gravel with standing water covering it in some areas. I would not try it during the week when there is active construction.
This section is clear of snow and nice to ride. Detour is awful as usual. Can't wait till construction is done
Part of a ride from Fox Point Wi. To Madison Wi.. This was the second of four trails we rode that. The first being The Oak Leaf Trail, The Hank Arron Trail, The New Berlin Trail and the Glacial Drumlin Trail completed the trip. The Hank Arron Trail zipped us through Milwaukee like a bike expressway. It is a trail that does share some areas with traffic but mostly you can ride on a extra wide side walk. The trail took us past Miller Stadium and The Harley-Davison Museum. The trail also has a small section that is wooded. The trail markings can be confusing at points. Pay attention to that. Mostly on the west end of the trail. The trail is mostly flat. A great way to see Milwaukee.
Great news, the trail has been expanded so you no longer have to use the traffic circle near the Iron Horse hotel (it was my least favorite part from the lake to Wauwatosa). The new trail can be seen on google maps, where it allows you to exit the 6th street bridge (from the west side) down along the river edge to access Pittsburgh Ave.
AFAIK, the entire area from 94th St to the H-D museum is paved (I've been getting off near Miller Park lateley.
This is a fantastic commuter line that really allows you to access a great deal of the city. It also connects to the Oak Leaf trail, Honey Creek Parkway, and other bike friendly areas.
If you are a tourist, it's not a particularly scenic trail, although you can easily access (in order of West to East), the State Fair Park, Miller Park, the Harley Davidson Museum, the Third ward, Summerfest grounds, Art Museum, and other lakefront attractions. Visit a local bike shop to get a map of MKE bike trails.
FYI, to get to the lakefront area from the H-D museum, take Pittsburgh to Chicago to Harbor to catch the Oak Leaf trail near Discovery World. It's on city streets, but not a bad place to ride.
"The Hank Aaron State Trail will be closed from 94th Place to the Oak Leaf Trail for the construction of bridges and structures over the trail until the summer of 2017."
This is true. Don't go past the barriers. Use the detour. But I haven't used the detour, so I can't say if there are signs and labeled correctly.
Nice trail. Good change of scenery along the way. Just enough curves in the road, slight elevation changes for the most part (although there is one tougher hill in the Valley), adequate tree cover from the sun on hot days. A little iffy getting from the Harley Davidson Museum to Lakeshore State Park along city streets if biking with younger children.
I really do not like the fact that you are on "the side walk along Canal Street". West of 35th street it is a nice trail. However you need to ride on the 35th street bridge and Canal street to 6th street where again you need to ride on the 6th street bridge which is not the best. So I prefer the trail west of 35th street to the west end. Why the trail does not cross Bluemound road is something that I do not understand because it could connect to some nice area's in Elm-Grove and some of the nearby Brookfield parks.The other nice place to park is at 121st street in Wauwatosa (weekends only). During the week people that own the businesses need the parking. My main question is "where are the rest-rooms for the trail"?
....every year. The offroad nature of most of the trail makes it ideal for safe commuting, It goes off-road at the Menomonee River at Selig drive and stays that way all the way to 6th street. At that point it becomes more problematic. However I only ride the off-road, so I will discuss that. The paved portion is nice and wide making passing pedestrians easier and safer. For most of the way, the path goes along Canal Street with its hills and valleys. They are not terribly steep ad are very smooth.
In the area west of 35th Street, there are branching gravel paths which give a comprehensive view of the area's flood control efforts. There are several ponds which vary from full to barely wet depending on the precipitation. However, some areas of the paved path remain wet for days after a rain. These areas are not large and are always safely ridden through. Hopefully, the problem will be rectified.
Keep in mind that in the area of the path between 26th and Emmber Ln, you share the path with City of Milwaukee truck entrances. Not a huge problem but just be aware. Also, you cross several roads the most hazardous is 32nd Street, where there is a stop sign for the cross traffic which isn't always honored, and the 26th Street roundabout which can be an adventure; however, there is an island in the middle.
Those wishing to avoid the City of Milwaukee entrances can do so by taking the detour along the River at Emmber Lane and at 26th Street. Two things: the area at the west end gets FLOODED for about 100 meters after a good rain. The depth is at least to your ankles so ride slowly to avoid the mixture of water and garage debris. Also there is only an in and out at each end the area next to the path is all solid fencing.
Those are some of the physical highlights but I should mention that at one point to pass the Palermo Pizza factory and get to smell that. Always makes me hungry!
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