15 Amazing Hiking Destinations Near Milwaukee For Any Skill Level

Being the largest city in the state of Wisconsin, as well as the 5th largest in the Midwestern United States, Milwaukee might not seem like a good place for hiking.

15 Absolutely Beautiful Hikes Near Milwaukee For All Experience Levels

Within the city you will find several hiking and walking tails easily accessible by foot. And in the surrounding areas, things become more adventurous with a range of rugged trails to choose from.

And in this guide, we have put together 15 absolute beautiful hikes near Milwaukee for all experience levels

15 Absolutely Beautiful Hikes Near Milwaukee

Trow Mounds Trail (Levis)
Source: Alltrails

Trow Mounds Trail (Levis)

Head roughly 3 hours outside of Milwaukee, and you will find Levis/Trow Mounds Trail, where robust, rocky landscapes are the standout feature.

Hike through the mysterious forest on wooden boardwalks, passing by the rock formations as you make your way to the hilltop vista. From here you get amazing bird’s eye views of the hiking area.

On your way to the hilltop your journey will be filled with peaceful, eye-pleasing trails which take you through lush evergreen forest.

The trees are tall, which protect hikers from the intense sun during summer months, and also give you a chance to be alone with your thoughts – a great place to hike if you have a lot on your mind.

Levis/Trow Mounds is not the closest hike to Milwaukee, and factoring in travel times will add a few more hours to your day, but it definitely needs to be included in this list.

It is a genuine adventure, and there are not many hiking trails close to Milwaukee that are as beautiful., or get the blood pumping like this one.

The hiking area is around 210 miles away from the city of Milwaukee. There are 5.5 miles of trails to hike, and 456 feet of elevation to the top.

Rib Mountain Yellow Trail
Source: AllTrails

Rib Mountain Yellow Trail

The further north you journey within Wisconsin, the terrain becomes more rocky, and mountains begin to pop up on the horizon.

Rib Mountain State Park is one of these terrain areas, and is one Wisconsin’s best to experience a more varied range of terrain to test out your hiking boots.

On the park’s Yellow Trail, the rocky bodies of cliffs and trees live among each other, and give hikers spectacular views.

These views are not blocked by too much forest coverage. And being a less than average touristy hiking area means that you may just get them to yourselves.

Rib Mountain and its Yellow Trail are a great choice for hikers who want to get away from the crowds, and immerse themselves in Wisconsin’s northern outback.

The state park is 185 miles from Milwaukee. And you can hike a total of 4.4 miles of trails, whilst climbing 836 feet in elevation.

Enough to feel a change in temperature!

Devil's Lake State Park

Devil’s Lake State Park

Central Wisconsin is home to one of the state’s most breathtaking hiking areas, Devil’s Lake. A stop along the Ice Age Trail, Devil’s Lake is surrounded by forest, and picturesque to say the least.

The best way to get around the hiking area’s amazing views and rugged terrain is the Devil’s Lake Trail, which runs through the area via the West Bluff.

Elevation gain is higher than other trails on this list, but still is not too challenging at 1,000 feet.

But what can make this difficult for some is frequent terrain changes. This happens a lot around the lake’s perimeter, and can make the underfoot unpredictable.

Devil’s Lake trail is an all-experience-level friendly hike, and is particularly suited to those who want a mountain feel.

The state park is 2 hours outside of Milwaukee. The trail length is 4.8 miles and you will ascend just over 1,000 feet.

Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area

Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area

Gibraltar Rock Trail is a good hike for those who want a short adventure close to Milwaukee.

But despite being one of the shortest walks on our list, there is a lot for hikers to get excited about. The trail is a medley of terrain, and is set against a backdrop of beautiful scenery.

Hikers follow a trail which has special interest for geologists, as the path follows rock formations which were created by the movement of glaciers in the area.

Many would argue that it is the view from the top which is the highlight of the day. The views spread out over the vast Wisconsin farmland from the hike’s pinnacle.

The viewpoint also makes a good spot for taking a break and having a bite to eat. And whilst doing this, visitors can take an extra moment to admire the special scenery and nearby rocks.

Gibraltar Rock Trail is an excellent hike for enthusiasts of all levels. And it is one of the most naturally awe-inspiring walks close to Milwaukee.

The state natural area is located just 1.5 hours outside of Milwaukee. And you can walk a total of 1.4 miles, while ascending 298 feet in elevation.

Pike Lake Trail
Source: Alltrails

Pike Lake Trail

Pike Lake Trail is an ideal hike for nature and history lovers. The trails are scenic, and are home to colorful wildflowers along with tall, thick forest coverage.

And industrial-era old machinery is dotted around. It is safe to say that this Milwaukee hiking trail has something to interest all visitors.

Throughout the hike there are a number of minor ascents and underfoot changes thanks to the area’s geological past.

Combined with the short distance and small elevation gain, this makes Pike Lake Trail an excellent introduction to hiking for beginners.

The only thing to keep in mind is that sometimes there are seasonal closures of the road which leads to the area.

Hiking to Pike Lake takes you along 3 miles of trail, and 275 feet of elevation. And an easy to reach location, the park sits just outside of Milwaukee at a 40 minute drive.

Lapham Peak

Lapham Peak

Are you looking for a scenic hike with great views that is also close to Milwaukee? Then look no further, because Lapham Peak fits the bill.

The locals love this hiking spot, and the high observation tower is one of the reasons why. From the top visitors get spectacular views, and can snap some great photos.

Hikers take a mixture of boardwalk and dirt pathways which journey through the old forest following the Ice Age Trail all the way to the peak.

To get the most out of Lapham Peak hike, it is best to arrive early. It is not only locals who enjoy the area, but tourists too.

And located just 30 minutes outside of Milwaukee in Kettle Moraine State Forest means plenty of city dwellers can get there.

But catching the sunrise from the top of the observation tower does not sound like a bad idea, right?

The total trail length is 3.1 miles. And hikers ascend through 393 feet.

Zillmer Yellow Loop
Source: Alltrails

Zillmer Yellow Loop

Wisconsin has a host of woodland hikes on the menu, and Zillmer Yellow Loop is another of these scenic trails.

It is stashed away in plenty of forest coverage, and leads to a couple of nice landmarks to remember.

Zillmer Loop contains a few mildly challenging areas which suit all hiker’s levels. This means that beginners can get more experience, while experienced hikers can stretch their legs.

The majority of the hike is covered by forest, but there are also views of the still waters of a nearby, large pond.

From the top of the forest you can escape the tree coverage a little, and it is from here where hikers can take in their surroundings.

During the fall, the leaves change colors, and the landscape becomes a palette of browns, dark greens, and the lake throws in some blue.

For those who want to quickly escape the city to nature, Zillmer Yellow Loop is one of the best options.

There are 5.2 miles of hiking trails, and you will ascend an easy 367 feet. Driving to the area takes 1 hour, with the park located 53 miles from Milwaukee.

Parnell Tower Loop

The Ice Age Trail is a real gem among hiking points as it leads to so many great end points, and the Parnell Tower Trail is another one of these. And the trail gets its name from the lookout tower which ends the scenic hike.

The trail is a little challenging. And what makes it worthwhile are the stunning views which you get from atop the tower.

The wooden lookout tower blends in nicely with the wooded trail, and gives hikers the best spot to take in the Wisconsin landscape.

These views are especially beautiful during the fall, as leaves turn color and create picture perfect scenes.

Getting to the tower takes hikers through a couple of terrain changes, and a small rise in elevation, and for the most part is tree lines.

The Parnell Tower Loop is close to the city hiking location good for all abilities.

The trail is within the Kettle Moraine State Forest, 1 hour from Milwaukee. You can walk 3.4 miles and ascend 314 feet.

Oak Leaf Trail
Source: Trailink

Oak Leaf Trail

Within Milwaukee we have Oak Leaf Trail. This is a great spot for those who want a longer hike, but closer to home.

The hike journeys a total of 19 miles across the city, and has different sections. Shore Grant Park is the most popular section among hikers, and is also one of the more scenic.

There are quaint views of the lake, trails which are tree covered, as well as the park bridges.

Although this is a hike within Milwaukee, it will not feel like it. There is an abundance of nature, and it really takes you away from the sounds and smells of the urban environment.

But the benefit of being an urban hike is that it is highly accessible. There are plenty of entrance points throughout the loop giving visitors choice.

For little legs and those who tire easily, start at the parking lot in Grant Park for a shorter walk.

Oak Leaf trail is handily located within the city of Milwaukee. The length of the loop depends on where you start and end, and this also affects the climb which you ascend.

Scuppernong Nature Trail

Scuppernong Nature Trail

Escaping the city, and panting your feet on some earthly ground is always the best way to destress and reconnect. Scuppernong Nature Trail is the perfect opportunity to do this, and has plenty of trees to keep you company.

You will find the hiking trail just 45 minutes away from Milwaukee city center, which passes through forgiving, rolling hills throughout its 5 miles.

Tall, towering trees block out the views, but themselves demand your attention. They are imposing and are a sight to behold.

This is especially the case as the weather turns colder and leaves begin to fall. And before falling, they change the browns, reds, and yellows which we all love.

Out of the hiking areas just outside of Milwaukee, this is one of the lesser visited. So you can relax knowing that peace and quiet will be there to welcome you.

Hikers get 5 mile of trail, along with 298 feet of elevation. And the area is located 45 minutes away from the city.

Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve
Source: The Outbound

Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve

Milwaukee is lucky to have several beautiful hiking spots located around half an hour away, and Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Reserve is one of them.

Sitting on the lakefront of Lake Michigan, the nature Preserve hosts amazing multiple-story bluffs which contrast the blue waters of the lake. And when stood atop, hikers get to look out across the water and take everything in.

The trails eventually lead to sandy beaches, which during the summer is perfect for laying towels, and taking a dip.

And on days where the sun is high in the sky, shining bright, the lake simply looks amazing, glistening all kinds of blue.

This is a particularly scenic hike for people who also enjoy landscape photography. Lake Michigan looks great in photos, and the trail here has several spots from where you can snap some striking stills.

Enjoy 1.9 miles of hiking trail, and 141 feet of elevation. And all just a 24 mile drive from Milwaukee.

Kohler-Andrae Boardwalk Trail

Kohler-Andrae Boardwalk Trail

When hiking this lakeside stroll, it would be easy to forget that you are in Wisconsin, and not somewhere on the US coastline.

It is one of the most eye-catching walks for entry-level hikers, with 3 miles of trails which run up and down sandy dunes along Lake Michigan.

The trails are well kept with wooden boardwalks helping walkers to climb and descend the sand dunes.

The board- and cordwalks also help to maintain the integrity of the park. And giving the sand an extra glow is the tall, blonde grasses which grow from the dunes.

Thanks to the unique habitat, there are also plant species that you will not see elsewhere.

By Sanderling Nature Center, The Creeping Juniper Nature Trail is a half mile trail through the sand dunes.

The Dunes Cordwalk has half a mile north and 1.5-mile south sections that pass through the dunes and run parallel to Lake Michigan.

This stunning lakeside hike is an hour away from Milwaukee. It has a total trail length of 3 miles, and minimal elevation.

A great day out for all hikers.

Ice Age Trail: Monches Section

Ice Age Trail: Monches Section

The Ice Age Trail has featured a lot in this list, and with good reason. What we have not yet told you is that it is one of the major long-distance hiking trails within Wisconsin.

The trail is vast, and covers close to 1,200 miles throughout an area that was once underneath a glacier. When they move, glaciers tear up the land beneath them, and tend to leave geological leftovers.

This explains why so many of Wisconsin hiking trails are littered with rocky formations and rugged cliffs.

What sets the Monches Section of the ice Age Trail apart is that it is extremely rugged and nature-clad.

The hike follows the tongue-twister Oconomowoc River which begins at Lake Oconomowoc and continues for the majority of the length of the hiking trail.

The trail gives hikers a good amount of peace and quiet, and also lovely river views. Like other trials in Wisconsin, wooden boardwalks mark the trail, and make it easier to cross the river at certain points.

These run through the woods and take hikers through several viewpoints of the river and lake.

A scenic, steady walk, the Monches Section of the Ice Age Trail is another great hiking spot close to Milwaukee.

There are a total of 3.7 miles of trails which ascend through 213 feet of elevation. And getting to the trail is just a 40 minute drive from the city.

Ice Age Trail: Holy Hill Segment

Ice Age Trail: Holy Hill Segment

The beloved Ice Age Trail packs lots for Milwaukee hikers, and one of its beloved sections is the Holy Hill Segment.

Visitors love this section not only because it is a spot of true natural beauty, but because hikers can also see the amazing sights of the Holy Hill Basilica.

Looking at the Basilica, you might feel like you are gazing at buildings somewhere in Europe rather than Wisconsin.

The architecture is reminiscent of times gone by, and adds something special to this segment of the Ice Age Trail.

The Basilica itself is accessible, and climbing its stairs to the top is the cherry on the frosting. The spires rise above the treeline, and give you unparalleled views on the area.

The Holy Section of the Ice Age Trail is around a 40 minute drive from Milwaukee. It is a longer trial on our list at 6.8 miles each way, and takes hikers through 603 feet of elevation.

Hank Aaron State Trail
Source: Trailink

Hank Aaron State Trail

Last but not least, we have Hank Aaron State Trail.

Because the majority of the trail is paved, it is more like a running and biking track than a traditional hiking route, but it is definitely worth a mention.

It passes through many of the city’s famous landmarks and neighborhoods, and is a favorite of many Milwaukee residents.

Being long, terrain friendly and easily accessible means that it is one of the best routes to get your body moving.

It also takes you by some of the city’s green spaces, meaning there are plenty of spots to take a break and catch your breath, or have a bite to eat.

There is some elevation along the route, particularly towards the baseball stadium, but in all, it is not challenging. Walkers or all abilities can take the route and rest easy knowing that they can make it to the end.

If leaving the city is not an option, but you want a nice, friendly walk, then Hank Aaron State Trail is a great option.

Walkers get a good 6.7 miles each way, all while gaining just 229 feet in elevation.

Emily Winters