The Oak Leaf Trails span 100+miles through asphalt, parkways, and municipal streets. See it all and follow alongside the Menomonee River for a scenic ride you won’t soon forget.
The Oak Leaf Trail offers a well-structured network with seven primary branch lines, along with two picturesque loops and two east-west connectors. Beginning at Dretzka Park in the northwest corner of the County, the Menomonee branch gracefully traces the scenic route of the Menomonee River Parkway. En route, it traverses iconic landmarks including Currie Park and Hoyt Park before leading into downtown Wauwatosa. From there, the branch extends along the Honey Creek Parkway, passing through Jacobus Park and ultimately reaching Doyne Park, completing a journey that showcases the trail’s diverse and captivating features. This part of the trail is approximately 14.75mi long.
Oak Leaf Trail History
Back in 1939, visionary cyclist Harold “Zip” Morgan envisioned a remarkable 64-mile (103 km) trail, ingeniously weaving its way around the county’s edges, adorned with natural splendors along riverbanks and the lakeshore. After three decades of passionate effort, the Milwaukee County Park Commission officially established the trail, setting the stage for the commencement of parkland trail construction in 1966.
Initially christened as the 76 Bike Trail in 1976, this iconic route underwent transformations. It briefly adopted the name 76 Multi-Use Trail in 1995 before blossoming into the beloved Oak Leaf Trail in 1996, a moniker now synonymous with exploration and outdoor escapades. By 2005, this interconnected trail marvel boasted an impressive network encompassing 48 miles of smooth asphalt paths, 31 miles of picturesque parkways, and an additional 27 miles of city streets adorned with designated bicycle lanes and sidewalks, creating an inviting haven for cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts.
In a nod to enhanced navigation and user experience, September 2018 witnessed a significant development. Trail sections were thoughtfully assigned vibrant colors and branch line names, inviting adventurers to explore with greater clarity and excitement. As you traverse the Oak Leaf Trail, you’re not just enjoying its scenic beauty but also immersing yourself in a history woven with dedication and passion for the joy of cycling.
Oak Leaf Trail Scenery
The Oak Leaf Trail in Wisconsin offers a diverse and captivating array of scenery that showcases the state’s natural beauty. As you journey along this multi-use trail, you’ll encounter a range of landscapes, each with its own unique charm.
The trail winds through lush forests, where towering oak trees create a verdant canopy overhead. Sunlight filters through the leaves, casting dappled shadows on the path, making for a tranquil and picturesque atmosphere. In the fall, the trail comes alive with a riot of autumn colors, as the leaves transition to vibrant hues of red, orange, and gold.
As you continue your journey, you might find yourself skirting the edges of serene lakes or winding alongside peaceful rivers. These water bodies provide not only stunning visual vistas but also opportunities for wildlife sightings. Birdwatchers can delight in spotting various avian species near the water’s edge, and if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of other wildlife like deer or small mammals.
The Oak Leaf Trail also weaves through urban areas, offering a contrast to the natural landscapes. You’ll pass by charming neighborhoods, bustling cityscapes, and perhaps even historic landmarks, providing a well-rounded exploration of Wisconsin’s urban and rural fabric.
The Oak Leaf Trail treats visitors to a dynamic tapestry of scenery, from tranquil woodlands and shimmering waterways to bustling urban scenes. Whether you’re seeking a peaceful nature retreat or an immersive journey through Wisconsin’s landscapes, the Oak Leaf Trail delivers an unforgettable experience for all who venture along its path.
Image courtesy of @bluehornetadventures