State Parks Milwaukee WI

7 State Parks Near Milwaukee WI: Discover the natural beauty of Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s state parks offer a perfect escape from city life, providing opportunities to reconnect with nature and enjoy outdoor activities. There are several state parks within an hour’s drive of Milwaukee that offer incredible views, miles of trails, and plenty of outdoor activities for visitors of all ages.

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover the natural beauty of Wisconsin through its state parks near Milwaukee.
  • Escape city life and reconnect with nature in these peaceful outdoor settings.
  • Explore miles of scenic trails and enjoy activities suitable for all ages.
  • Visit Lakeshore State Park for an urban oasis in downtown Milwaukee.
  • Experience the ancient history of Aztalan State Park and its reconstructed village.
  • Enjoy the beauty of Geneva Lake at Big Foot Beach State Park.
  • Explore the unique natural area of Cedarburg Bog in southeastern Wisconsin.
  • Bike, rollerblade, or walk the scenic Glacial Drumlin State Trail connecting Waukesha and Cottage Grove.

Lakeshore State Park: Urban oasis in downtown Milwaukee

Nestled in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, Lakeshore State Park offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Spanning 22 acres, this urban state park is a hidden gem that provides a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of nature and the grandeur of the Great Lakes right in the heart of the city.

At Lakeshore State Park, visitors can enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities and recreational opportunities. The park features a 1.7-mile hiking and biking trail that winds through lush greenery, offering stunning views of the lake and the surrounding cityscape. Whether you prefer to explore on foot or pedal through the park, the trail provides a perfect way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty that Wisconsin has to offer.

Water enthusiasts will also find plenty to enjoy at Lakeshore State Park. The park provides water access for canoes and kayaks, allowing visitors to glide along the calm waters and appreciate the serene ambiance of the park. Fishing enthusiasts can cast their lines at the designated fishing area, while boaters can take advantage of the boat slips available for easy lake access.

Lakeshore State Park is more than just a place for outdoor recreational activities; it also offers educational and cultural experiences. The park features a bridge that connects it to the Summerfest grounds, which hosts various events, concerts, and festivals throughout the year. This seamless connection between nature and culture makes Lakeshore State Park a vibrant and dynamic destination for both residents and tourists alike.

With its prime location in downtown Milwaukee, Lakeshore State Park truly embodies the concept of an urban oasis. It allows visitors to escape the city’s concrete jungle and immerse themselves in the wonders of nature, making it a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a tranquil retreat.

Key Features of Lakeshore State Park:

  • 22 acres of natural beauty
  • 1.7-mile hiking and biking trail
  • Water access for canoes and kayaks
  • Fishing area
  • Boat slips for convenient lake access
  • Bridge connecting to Summerfest grounds

Lapham Peak: Hiking and nature trails in Waukesha County

Lapham Peak, located in Waukesha County, is a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its scenic hiking trails and breathtaking views, this park offers a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

One of the highlights of Lapham Peak is its extensive network of hiking trails. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, there is a trail for everyone. The park offers a variety of difficulty levels, from easy family-friendly paths to more challenging routes that will test your endurance.

One of the most popular trails in Lapham Peak is the Plantation Path trail. This trail is stroller and wheelchair-friendly, making it accessible for visitors of all abilities. As you stroll along this picturesque path, you’ll encounter lush forests, wildflowers, and maybe even spot some wildlife along the way.

But the highlight of Lapham Peak is undoubtedly the 45-foot observation tower. As you hike up to the top, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding Lake Country. It’s the perfect spot to take in the beauty of Waukesha County and snap some stunning photos.

Lapham Peak is not just a destination for hikers. The park also offers opportunities for birdwatching, picnicking, and even snowshoeing during the winter months. No matter the season, there’s always something to do and explore at Lapham Peak.

If you’re looking for a day of outdoor adventure or a peaceful retreat in nature, Lapham Peak is the perfect destination. Pack your hiking boots, bring your camera, and get ready to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Waukesha County.

Lapham Peak Hiking Trails

Aztalan State Park: Explore ancient history

Aztalan State Park is a National Historic Landmark that takes you back in time to an ancient village that thrived between 1000 and 1300 A.D. This remarkable park offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Native Americans who once called this area home. Located in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, Aztalan State Park is truly a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

As you enter the park, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the beauty of the natural landscape. The park features two miles of scenic trails that wind through the open prairie, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Take a leisurely stroll and immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature.

One of the highlights of Aztalan State Park is the reconstructed stockade and mounds. These impressive structures provide a tangible connection to the ancient village that once thrived here. Marvel at the skill and ingenuity of the Native Americans as you explore these reconstructed monuments.

Activities Facilities Available
Kayaking Picnic Areas
Canoeing Restrooms
Fishing Parking

Step back in time and discover the rich history of Aztalan State Park. This National Historic Landmark offers a rare glimpse into an ancient civilization and invites you to explore the wonders of the past.

Exploring the Ancient Village

  • Wander through the trails and soak in the natural beauty of the open prairie.
  • Marvel at the reconstructed stockade and mounds that provide insights into the lives of the Native Americans.
  • Engage in kayaking, canoeing, and fishing on the picturesque Crawfish River.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature lover, or seeking outdoor adventures, Aztalan State Park offers something for everyone. Immerse yourself in ancient history and create lasting memories in this remarkable National Historic Landmark.

Aztalan State Park

Plan Your Visit

Aztalan State Park is open year-round, allowing visitors to experience its beauty in every season. The park is located at N6200 County Rd Q, Jefferson, WI 53549. Admission is free, making it an affordable and educational day trip for individuals and families alike.

Make sure to check the park’s website or contact the park office for the most up-to-date information on hours of operation, special events, and any restrictions or guidelines.

Discover the wonders of Aztalan State Park and embark on a journey into ancient history. Uncover the mysteries of the past and create unforgettable memories in this remarkable National Historic Landmark.

Big Foot Beach State Park: Enjoy the beauty of Geneva Lake

Located on the picturesque shore of Geneva Lake, Big Foot Beach State Park is a hidden gem in Wisconsin. This charming park offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area while enjoying a range of outdoor activities. With its stunning lake views, sandy beach, and extensive hiking trails, Big Foot Beach State Park is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike.

One of the highlights of Big Foot Beach State Park is its 100-foot sandy swimming beach, perfect for a refreshing dip on a hot summer day. Whether you’re looking to sunbathe, build sandcastles, or take a leisurely swim, the beach provides a serene and picturesque setting to relax and unwind.

For those seeking to explore the park’s natural wonders, Big Foot Beach State Park offers 6.5 miles of hiking trails that wind through wooded areas and showcase the diverse flora and fauna of the region. As you hike along the trails, keep an eye out for native wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, red foxes, and a variety of bird species.

Picnic and Playground Areas

In addition to its beautiful beach and hiking trails, Big Foot Beach State Park features picnic and playground areas. These well-maintained spaces provide the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic with family and friends or let the little ones burn off some energy on the playground equipment. With ample seating, shaded areas, and scenic views, the picnic and playground areas make for a memorable day out in nature.

Facilities Activities
Wooded campsites Hiking
Restrooms Sandy swimming beach
Drinking water Picnicking
Playground Nature watching

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a family seeking outdoor adventures, or a couple looking for a romantic lakeside getaway, Big Foot Beach State Park is sure to captivate and inspire. Come and explore the beauty of Geneva Lake and discover all that this remarkable state park has to offer.

Big Foot Beach State Park

Cedarburg Bog: Discover a unique natural area

Located in southeastern Wisconsin, Cedarburg Bog is an extraordinary natural area that offers visitors a one-of-a-kind experience. This expansive bog is the most intact of its kind in the region, showcasing the beauty and diversity of Wisconsin’s glacial landscape. With its six lakes and proximity to a hardwood forest, Cedarburg Bog provides a serene and picturesque environment for nature enthusiasts and hikers to explore.

When you visit Cedarburg Bog, you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself in its unique ecosystem by following designated trails that wind through the stunning landscape. As you traverse the trails, take in the breathtaking views and encounter a wide array of plants and animals that call the bog their home.

The highlight of Cedarburg Bog is its fascinating “String” or “Pattern” feature, which showcases a captivating juxtaposition of stunted cedars and tamaracks amidst flatter, water areas dominated by sedges. This natural phenomenon is a testament to the distinctive geological history of the area, and it offers a captivating sight for visitors.

To enhance your visit to Cedarburg Bog, consider joining guided tours or educational programs that provide in-depth knowledge about the bog’s formation, ecology, and conservation efforts. These experiences offer valuable insights into the significance of this glacial lake and its role in the broader southeastern Wisconsin ecosystem.

Whether you’re an avid nature photographer, a bird-watching enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of untouched wilderness, Cedarburg Bog is a must-visit destination. Explore its trails, witness its unique “String” phenomenon, and discover the wonders of this exceptional natural area in southeastern Wisconsin.

Glacial Drumlin State Trail: A scenic bike trail

The Glacial Drumlin State Trail is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts seeking a scenic adventure. This 52-mile-long bike trail, which follows the path of an abandoned railway between Waukesha and Cottage Grove, offers a captivating journey through Wisconsin’s picturesque landscapes.

As you traverse the Glacial Drumlin State Trail, you’ll pass through charming farmlands and idyllic small towns, immersing yourself in the serene beauty of the surrounding nature. The trail’s diverse ecosystem provides ample opportunities for wildlife sightings, with a variety of birds, mammals, and plant life thriving in the area.

Whether you prefer biking, rollerblading, or walking, the Glacial Drumlin State Trail caters to all outdoor enthusiasts. Its well-maintained surface ensures a smooth and enjoyable experience, while the breathtaking views along the way serve as a constant reminder of Wisconsin’s natural wonders.

For those seeking adventure off the beaten path, the Glacial Drumlin State Trail offers a convenient connection between the vibrant city of Milwaukee and the bustling capital of Madison. It’s the perfect way to explore the region’s stunning landscapes while engaging in a variety of outdoor activities.


Are dogs allowed in Wisconsin state parks?

Yes, dogs are allowed in Wisconsin state parks as long as they are on a leash and under control at all times. However, there may be specific areas within the parks where dogs are not allowed, such as swimming areas or certain trails. It is always recommended to check the park regulations before bringing your dog.

Can I camp overnight in Milwaukee state parks?

Unfortunately, camping is not permitted in Milwaukee state parks. However, there are nearby state parks, such as Big Foot Beach State Park, that offer camping facilities.

Do I need a fishing license to fish in state parks near Milwaukee?

Yes, a fishing license is required to fish in state parks near Milwaukee. You can purchase a fishing license online or at designated locations, such as bait and tackle shops or sporting goods stores.

Can I bring my own kayak or canoe to Lakeshore State Park?

Yes, you can bring your own kayak or canoe to Lakeshore State Park. The park offers water access for canoes and kayaks, allowing visitors to enjoy paddling on the water. However, it is important to follow all safety guidelines and regulations while on the water.

Are there picnic areas available in Lapham Peak?

Yes, Lapham Peak has picnic areas where you can enjoy a meal surrounded by nature. These picnic areas are equipped with tables and grills, making it a great spot for a family outing or a gathering with friends.

Can I swim in Geneva Lake at Big Foot Beach State Park?

Yes, Big Foot Beach State Park has a 100-foot sandy swimming beach where visitors can enjoy swimming in Geneva Lake. The beach area is monitored by lifeguards during designated hours for added safety.

Are there any fees to enter Cedarburg Bog?

No, there are no entrance fees to enter Cedarburg Bog. It is a free natural area where visitors can explore and enjoy the unique flora and fauna of southeastern Wisconsin.

Can I rent bikes for the Glacial Drumlin State Trail?

Yes, there are bike rental options available for the Glacial Drumlin State Trail. You can rent bikes from local bike shops near the trail, allowing you to enjoy a scenic ride along the abandoned railway.

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