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The trail was smooth blacktop all the way, with a few hills. Later, it passes along the lake through the towns of Oak Creek, Cudahy, St. Francis and Bay View. I rode up to Bay View before the Hoan Bridge and then headed back. A great ride of 18 miles. The Oak Leaf Trail has both positives and negatives, however positives do outweigh the negatives. This trail allows users to travel through the heart of Milwaukee, however the lack of bike lanes and signage when the trail segments off makes it difficult for people unfamiliar with the area to find their way around.
Being a resident of the Milwaukee area for 16 years, the trail is not so challenging for me to figure out, but this does prove to be a downfall of using the Oak Leaf Trail.
On the other hand, the trail is nicely paved, full of wildlife, and the users tend to be friendly, so it does make for a great atmosphere! My advise when using the Oak Leaf Trail would be to review the map and o plan your route beforehand, especially if you are unfamiliar with the Milwaukee area. This is one the trails we ride a lot. A lot of times we head west on Wilbur to ride around Alcott Park to go west on Howard over the expressway bridge, then south on th street to get to the Norwich street trail connector. Well, it had rained very hard Saturday night and we discovered that the trail was flooded from underneath the expressway to the other side of the Layton Avenue bridge.
The water appeared quite deep and had a current so we rode back and took Coldspring East to Hwy south, then Layton Ave East to rejoin the trail. No other part of the trail was flooded even though there are more places where the trail crosses near the river. On the way back we took the unlabeled bike path along Loomis through Greendale before getting on 68th Street.
I ride on this part of the Oak Leaf Trail fairly often. From the Ozaukee County line to Mill Rd, you must cross a handful of busy streets, so caution will be your watchword. South of Mill Rd there are only two streets to cross, only one of which Hampton is busy, so it is a great ride for families. Weekends can get busy, with skaters, walkers, runners, dogs, other pleasure cyclists, and mobs of high speed cyclists.
Be careful of those mobs, they often act like the trail was made for them exclusively. The trail is generally downhill from North to South, it is a gradual slope, but it is enough to notice when riding back North. Near Silver Spring it gains shelter from trees which line the sides. North from there is a bit more open. The third is in Hubbard Park; although it is accessible by car, it is easiest to get to from the trail. All three serve beer naturally and have soft drinks and food as well.
It is a real gem, and a fun one to experience. There is major construction on the south leg of the oak leaf trail near 27th street. They don't have any way to get through with a bike short of riding in one lane traffic. Had to get off my bike and walk in the street.
There should be a detour route. We rode about 15 miles total Most of it was pretty good pavement so mostly smooth riding. Some great views of Lake Michigan and Milwaukee heading back north. Only a couple of short climbs and a lot of shade on the southern half. We had a blast on his trail! I'm not really sure what part of the trail is the West Allis Connector and which part is the Oakleaf Trail. Very good winter driving conditions. Some winter damage to roads along Root River Parkway so it was rough in spots and sometimes you had to drive around potholes. However that is to be expected as these are secondary roads which get repaired after the main roads.
It was a beautiful sunny, abnormally warm 60F day when we started out. There were a lot of people out enjoying the weather and walking their dogs. We cut our ride short when the clouds covered the sun and the temperature dropped. We headed east on Layton Avenue then took 84th Street south.
There was a place for us to ride out of traffic and the traffic was fairly light. I think it's one of the better roads to head north towards Greenfield Ave. A lot better than 92nd and 76th street. However traffic is usually pretty light and polite. I feel 76th street is very dangerous to ride even though it is a posted bike route. The traffic is very rush hour expressway heavy, aggressive, cars ride in all 3 lanes, and I know someone who got hit on that road.
My husband thinks whoever posted 76th street as a bike route is bound and determined to systematically exterminate all bicyclists one by one. We wear helmets, bright yellow construction worker jerseys with reflective strips.
We also have a flashing white LED in front and the most powerful available red flashing flare along with a taillight in back and still experience our share of near misses. We also have a loud air horn to blow when cars don't see us and try to hit us. Right turners from behind are always a wild card when we cross intersections. Also watch out for people coming out of driveways. The onboard airhorn is handy to alert them of our presence. I have walked areas of the Oak Leaf Trail on the southwest side of Milwaukee County and always have a good time.
Am a grandmother with a heart transplant and had a brainstorm to section hike the Oak Leaf with my loyal blue heeler, Spot. Have given up on ever getting to Appalachain Trail so this will be it! At least there are no bears or mountains. A cool misty 38F day with drizzles at the end. Probably the last day to ride before the snow comes and stays. Quite a few bikers getting out while they can and pretty many walkers with and without dogs. Disc Golf was very popular with a lot people playing and waiting to play in Whitnall Park.
Overall trail is fine. Road just a little rough after Greenfield Park. No near misses with cars. That's always a plus. Just because you're wearing bright reflective gear with lights doesn't mean the cars will notice you. At this time of year, they don't expect to see bikers so they don't see you.
I guess that's what making bike riding in the city exciting.
We rode our bike in a big circle today just to get out and enjoy being outside. Then Oak leaf all the way to Loomis Road. Didn't go to the Sports Complex today. It started raining so decided to head back. Up the hill to traffic light crossing grange to 68th st. Less suicidal then taking 76th with aggressive cars that ride in lane next to sidewalk. Follow river and make Right on river bend road, cross river and becomes 72 st. Then cross Oklahoma Ave and back on 73rd st.
Hank Aaron trail is still under construction due to expressway project and has some detours. We use this portion of the Oak Leaf Trail a lot because it follows the parkway when it's not a trail. That is less stressful than riding on regular city streets even though this trail winds around quite a bit and adds some miles to your trip. The parkway section from Cleveland ave to Morgan Ave is a little rough but the rest of the trail is paved and smooth. There's a few places you need to be careful and aware: Not really sure what the flashing caution crossing light is supposed to do.
Cars do not slow down or become cautious as far as I can tell from the multiple times that we have crossed this street. The southern section is very scenic and curvy with small hills and views of the river now that the leaves are off the trees. You see quite a few people walking, biking, skating but we all work together. It seems less crowded than the New Berlin Trail. We weren't quite sure where the trail ended so rode past and through the Sports Complex.
We turned right to follow a bike path west a short way on Ryan Rd. The bike path ended after we crossed the river but there was a good shoulder on the 50 mph road. Then made another right north on 68th st. We then rode the bike lane up a killer hill past the Milwaukee County House of Corrections. At the next intersection, Puetz? I would love to try and do the whole trail if I had the time. Right now I'm trying to do the scenic routes and someday finish up the street parts. There are so many great places along this trail for short rides up to ten miles or so without knowing you're in Milwaukee.
The dedicated parts of the trail earn 5 stars. They are in great condition, picturesque, with hills and turns to keep it interesting. The shared roads can be good, but many have the cracks across the pavement that generate that repetitive ca-chunk noise and feel that is really annoying. As a plus, the ride today in August took us past the traveling Biergarten near Whitnall Park.
Fittingly, I had a Radler. We rode this trail north to south. The trail is a loop around the Milwaukee area and seems to have many access points. This was one of four of the trails we rode on a century ride from Fox Point Wi. The Oak Leaf Trail has both Forrest and urban street travels.
I have ridden the Oak Leaf in the past and thought I would go for a spring ride. Ended up to be a short ride. The trail on the Underwood Pkwy from Watertown Pk to Swan has always been rough and my least favorite, potholes etc.
It winds through woods and fields and offers beautiful views of Lake Michigan from the tall bluffs. More food and coffee obviously as well as a terrific place to people watch. We parked on Drexel Ave between Pennsylvania and Howell near the skate park. The sections along the water front are beautiful and protected, suitable for small children. A few bikers too. We chose to do the section along Lake Michigan which is a gorgeous, leisurely ride.
Now the Menomonee River Pkwy north tops all. Dodging potholes keeps your attention, but the crossing cracks are so bad twice they knocked me off my seat and jarring my shoulder. From Mayfair Rd through Curry Pk is closed and totally ripped out, hope it will be better soon. Turned around, that's all for the day. Starting from the Racine Milwaukee County Line and heading north, the trail is always clean and mowed. The pavement is in good to fair condition and I believe there is park staff tending to the issues they see regularly.
I realize to repave a trail system the size of the Oak Leaf trail would be in the millions, so if speed is your thing, this is probably not your trail. It is not just trail condition, but the amount the trail is used by non-bikers as well. It is not the pedestrian fault they don't know bikes are coming up behind them.
We walk and ride so we understand and let folks know we are behind them so they can move aside. Just be aware how fast a bike moves compared to how fast folks can respond to your notice. The section that should be closed to bikes entirely is the section thru the trees in Grant Park. I don't know how the residents can stand to live on that section of road! But because it is not well traveled, a bike can watch out for the potholes. It is also true the trail is not marked well at all. I don't know why this has not been addressed. Go to a painted marker system if the signs get stollen or something.
Some of the connections are impossible and only thru trial and error can you eventually find the path. It is nicely mowed and with a little effort in signage, it could be so much better. I've lived in the Milwaukee area all of my life and every time I try to ride the Oak Leaf "Trail" I get so frustrated I vow never to try again it should really be called the breadcrumb trail with the amount of signage it has.
There are parts that are a true trail and those parts are usually very nice. Those parts are its only saving grace. Otherwise you're constantly being spit off a nice trail onto unfriendly Milwaukee streets where you don't even get a bike lane. On a "recreational path? We don't even get a bike lane on a bike route?
Milwaukee is not a cyclist's friend. And back to that signage Over the many many years the Oak Leaf had been in existence they have never improved the signs to help you figure out where it actually goes. If it's that spectacular then promote it with signage. After getting hit by a car on my bike a year ago I was looking forward to getting off the busy streets and finding out if it had improved over the years.
Sadly our city's focus is on automobiles not healthy alternate means of transportation and recreation. It's like they put it out there 30 years ago and thought it would maintain itself. The Oak Leaf Trial is a collection of paved off streek paths, on street bike lanes and on street with no bike lanes.
Some of the streets have heavy industrial traffic. To suggest it is a 96 mile trail is misleading, it is more of a 96 mile route through the city. Parts of this trail are the epitome of scenic paved bike paths, parts are less so. A Milwaukee County bicyce map is essential as the signage is often lacking or non-existent. Even with the map it is easy for someone not familiar with the city to lose the trail.
The sections along the water front are beautiful and protected, suitable for small children. The southern section in Cudahy is very rough. One experience of note; I lost my wallet along the path and it was turned into the police dept. It would appear the people of Milwaukee are not only friendly but honest too.
Picking up a Milwaukee by Bike map at a local bike store was most helpful in riding parts of the Oak Leaf trail. We chose to do the section along Lake Michigan which is a gorgeous, leisurely ride.
We parked our car for free and for unlimited hours in Veterans Park. Do realize it can be quite windy and cooler along this section with walkers and inline skaters joining in. The pastries and sandwiches were delicious with seating both inside and outside. Next we ventured away from the water there is a ramp to cross the street and headed up toward Lincoln Park.
Surprisingly, it was very quiet and heavily wooded with few if any interruptions. We ended up riding about 24 miles. Although the Oak Leaf Trail consists of many miles, the map demonstrates that it is not one continuous path. I would enjoy checking out more of this trail the next time I am in the Milwaukee area.
My husband, 11 year old daughter, and I explored a new section of the Oak Leaf Trail today. We parked on Drexel Ave between Pennsylvania and Howell near the skate park. The path is very well groomed with large bike crossing signs where it crosses the occasional street. There is a wooden bridge going over a small stream and a really cool covered bridge just south of Ryan.