FATMAP difficulty grade
The Menomonee River flows through the burgeoning midwestern metropolis of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and along its peaceful banks you’ll find a series of beautiful parks, open spaces… and a paved greenway trail connecting them all together.
In fact, greenway bike paths run along many of the river corridors in the Milwaukee Metro Area, allowing a cyclist to piece together long stretches of scenic, quiet, protected paved riding free from the dangers of aggressive motorists. While the network of greenway paths in Milwaukee is expansive and multiple paths can be combined with stretches of pavement to create a much longer ride, this route has been designed to maximize as much protected bike path along the Menomonee River as possible, and minimize the amount of riding on the open road.
The chosen start point for this out-and-back route is Rainbow Park—again, to maximize the distance—but another logical beginning for this route is located in Charles Hart Park in Wauwatosa. The bike path follows the banks of the river, running close to the shore at times and then skirting further up and back toward civilization.
The path generally provides a pleasant flow, almost never running straight.
Instead, it snakes along with a sinuous course.
Beautifully maintained parks with mowed grass and delightful tables to stop at dot the path.
The sections where the path approaches the river offer delightful views of the rushing water—much higher in the springtime, and more subdued in the summer.
It’s easy to stop and enjoy a peaceful lunch along the banks of the river, and the path will allow you to access more secluded spots than the people who are confined to their motor vehicles. The northern stretches of trail traverse through low-lying marshy areas, running under old bridges and providing a more rustic feel than the first sections in the hip town of Wauwatosa.
However, bear in mind that the marshy sections will be swarming with bugs, especially mosquitoes, when it’s warm enough.
Come armed with bug spray, or if this section is too buggy, turn around and stick to the better-drying portions of trail.