General Information and Frequently Asked Questions About the Hank Aaron State Trail

The Hank Aaron State Trail is 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 just east of 3rd and Pittsburgh Avenue (now known as Freshwater Way), with a ramp and stairway going up to the Sixth Street Bridge. It continues as a paved path all the way out to 94th Place.

West of 94th Place, the trail is closed during construction of the Zoo Interchange. A detour route on city streets is posted during the Trail closure, but both routes link to the Oak Leaf Trail, which traverses through 100 miles of Milwaukee County.

How long will the detour be in place?

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 fall of 2018. Please follow the detour route (signs on streets and shown on our map), which will allow you to connect to the Oak Leaf Trail in Greenfield Park.

Will there be any changes to the Trail west of 94th Place after it is reopened in 2018?

Once this Trail segment is reopened, after the closure for work on the Zoo Interchange, it will be paved in asphalt. A ramp connection from the Trail to Hwy. 100 and a barrier separated path will provide a connection to the Zoo.

Where is the newest section of Trail and the new Park just east of the bridge at 37th Street?

A new trail, called the North Bank Trail, was constructed by the City of Milwaukee in 2016. It connects 33rd Court with the limestone paths that go through Stormwater Park and eventually back to the asphalt path of the Hank Aaron State Trail. Many stakeholders worked together 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. That 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 bridges to Mitchell Park and 33rd Court behind Palermo's Pizza.

Where is the newest branch of Urban Ecology Center?

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 at 37th and Canal Street. UEC's 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 use Three Bridges Park as an outdoor classroom, as well as areas along the Trail and on the north bank of the river.

Are there any other new sections of Trail?

A ramp and stairway off of the Sixth Street Viaduct opened in the summer of 2014. This allows users to go from the viaduct to the street level avoiding the round-about. A new short section of trail along the river connects the ramp to Pittsburgh Street/Freshwater Way and the on-street sections of the trail taking you down to the Lake.

What are those really interesting old buildings just west of Miller Park?

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 Veterans. It was built in 1883. The entire grounds are part of the Bureau of Veterans Affairs. You can take a narrated walking tour by downloading an app for your Smartphone. Just visit the store on your mobile device and search Milwaukee Soldiers Home.

Why are there so few garbage cans along the Trail?

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.

What are those interesting green shelters along the Trail?

Shelters in Catalano Square, 25th and Canal Street, and at the Trail's western terminus near Underwood Creek 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.

I'd like to help out with the Trail. Who do I call?

You can contact the Trail Manager, Melissa Cook at 414-263-8559 or melissa.cook@wisconsin.gov 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 committees with the Friends of Hank Aaron State Trail 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. For more information contact Jill Maertz at fohast@gmail.com.

Also, consider supporting 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.

Annual Events

  • Earth Day Clean Up: Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
  • Hank Aaron State Trail 5K Run/Walk: Saturday, August 5th, 2017
  • Three Bridges Park Community Planting Day: Saturday, June 10th, 2017
  • Walk the Hank guided tours: See website for multiple dates
  • Shakespeare in the Park: Friday, July 14th, 2017
  • Doors Open Milwaukee Bike Tour: Sunday, September 24th, 2017
  • Salmon Run in the Menomonee River: Late September - Early October
  • Urban Candlelight Hike: Winter