Thursday, September 29, 2016

Discovering the Lakefront by Bike

McKinley Beach

Fall is a great time to bike the Oak Leaf Trail, especially the lakefront portion. This can be quite busy on weekends, so you may find it easier to ride on the roadway, especially if you're not biking with kids. I did this last week and really enjoyed it.  You can pick up a rental bublr bike at Discovery World, if you live out of town or don't have a bike.  You won't really need a map for this trail, but if you want to check it out, get the new county parks map at Park People, or see the older city link.
Bike rack in front of Discovery World

Lakeshore State Park has a new system with signs showing codes which can be read by a reader on your smart phone.  It's a nice walk or bike through the park at any time. I chose to hike this portion and listened to the history and a bit about the animals one can see at the park. There are some pretty asters and black eyed susans in the natural plantings across the park, so you may see butterflies and bees enjoying them. There's free parking at the south end of the park, as well as portable toilets, so if you plan to do the trip I'm suggesting, park here. Look for the red lighthouse. Then walk the park, pick up a bike, and ride along the lakefront.

Beautiful flowers
Be sure to take a few minutes to play the wooden benches out in front of Discovery World on the way to the Bublr rack.  Everyone is a musician.  Those tall silvery sculptures are interactive too.  This art installation is called Wind Leaves. Set off on the trail in front of the Art Museum and ride through Veterans Park.  Here you can still get a snack at the kite shop on the weekends. If it's closed, Colectivo at the lakefront is a great choice as you head past McKinley Marina.  If you feel up to it, walk out on Government Pier- that long slab of concrete that goes into the lake. Beware if it's windy though as the waves can splash you right off of it. As I visited McKinley beach, there were only geese. They left lots of footprints. For an extra workout here, cross Lincoln Memorial and go up the stairs which lead to Back Bay Park. There's a new little free library on the street side of this small neighborhood park.
Find your inner musician


From here, you can head up towards Bradford Beach, but stop at the exercise station for a quick workout on the way. Past Bradford Beach is the entrance to Lake Park on the opposite side of the street. Look for the new lighthouse ravine signs which indicate a rustic trail which goes up to the lighthouse. This park has been very busy with Pokemon players, so if you're a fan, play along. You can go up one trail and come down on the other, just for a change of scenery. It's a bit overgrown, but perfectly safe and very pretty with flowers now. On weekends, Northpoint Lighthouse is open for tours, and sometimes you can climb the tower for a great view.
Do a few situps here

rustic trail with stone steps
Northpoint Lighthouse open on weekends
Now you've experienced a few lakefront parks and hopefully enjoyed your ride.  It's time to turn around and get back to your car.  If you still have the time, take a few minutes to climb to the upper side of O'Donnell Park after you park your rental bike. Most people know it because it's in front of Betty Brinn Children's Museum. There's a car park underneath.  You'll have a good view of the Art Museum from up here, as well as the lakefront you've just biked. This park will one day belong to the Art Museum and a sculpture garden may be part of the future.  Watch the Facebook page for MKE Lakefront Plaza to see what happens with the new lakefront development. 
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