The Hank Aaron State Trail is now a continuous trail from Lake Michigan to the Milwaukee/Waukesha county line. The overall length is approximately 12 miles, which includes several sections where there are parallel segments.
The section furthest east is on city streets, but the trail transitions to an off-street asphalt paved trail at Sixth and Canal Street, near the Harley Davidson Museum. It continues as a paved path all the way out to 94th Place.
West of 94th Place, the trail surface changes from asphalt to crushed limestone. While the Trail continues to the Milwaukee-Waukesha County Line at Underwood Creek, the limestone section will close November 1, 2013 and be closed during construction of the Zoo Interchange. A detour route will be posted during Trail closures, but both routes link to the Oak Leaf Trail, which traverses through 100 miles of Milwaukee County.
Reconstruction of the Zoo Interchange requires demolition and reconstruction of freeway on and off ramps. Many of the abutments for these structures are on or across the Trail. Because the work will be accomplished in a phased approach, the section west of 94th Place will be closed until 2018. Please follow the detour route, which will allow you to connect to the Oak Leaf Trail in Greenfield Park.
Once this Trail segment is reopened after the closure for work on the Zoo Interchange it will be paved in asphalt. A ramp connection to Hwy. 100 and a barrier separated path will provide a connection to the Zoo.
We have been working with our many stakeholders on a 24-acre park and a 1-mile extension of the Hank Aaron State Trail through a former railroad yard located between approximately 37th and 27th streets. The new park opened on July 20, 2013 and is called Three Bridges Park. In addition to the newly paved asphalt sections, the park has crushed limestone walking paths, river access, ponds, terrific views from the hilltops, and a connection to Mitchell Park. There is also a new bridge located at 33rd Court behind Palermo's Pizza.
The third branch of the Urban Ecology Center opened in 2012. It is located on the south end of the tunnel that is near the bridge over the Menomonee River. Their address is 3700 W. Pierce Street. They offer science based education to nearby schools and offer a myriad of programs to kids and adults throughout the year. They will be using the new 24-acre park as an outdoor classroom, as well as areas along the Trail and on the north bank of the river.
Construction started this fall on a ramp and stairway off of the Sixth Street Viaduct. This will allow users to go from the viaduct to the street level avoiding the round-about. We hope to open the ramp in the summer of 2014.
The buildings are part of the Historic Soldiers Home and some date back to 1868. Originally founded to provide a home for returning Civil War Soldiers, the complex greatly expanded over time and includes a cemetery honoring our nations fallen. The building closest to the Trail is the Ward Memorial Theater where performances were held to entertain the soldiers. It was built in 1883. The entire grounds are part of the Bureau of Veterans Affairs.
The Trail is managed by Wisconsin State Parks, a division of the Department of Natural Resources. They have a comprehensive "carry-in, carry-out" policy that assists in dealing with funding and staffing shortages. The garbage cans that do exist along the Trail are tended by adjacent businesses and volunteer Stewardship Crews.
The shelter in Catalano Square and the one at 25th and Canal Street were formerly used as streetcar shelters on the Sixteenth Street Viaduct. They were built in 1929 and pulled from use in the late 1980s. They were in a very dilapitated state, but were refurbished by the Friends of Hank Aaron State Trail. They've been placed along the Trail to provide shelter for Trail users and to serve as information stations for Trail maps and upcoming events.
You can contact the Trail Manager, Melissa Cook at 414-263-8559 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to volunteer to help with work along the Trail, such as weeding, litter pickup, or planting. Her information is also on the map/brochure. If you have other skills, you may want to participate in some of the committees that the Friends of Hank Aaron State Trail has that work on things such as developing enhancements for the Trail, or promoting public awareness or use of the Trail, or sustaining different elements of the Trail long term.
Also, consider joining the Friends of Hank Aaron State Trail. It is a non-profit organization whose main objective is to create a lasting legacy for present and future generations. For event information and to join the Friends of the Hank Aaron State Trail call 414-263-8559 or visit www.hankaaronstatetrail.org or take home a brochure on the Friends Group for your consideration.