Many of you may know Warnimont Park for its section of OakLeaf paved bike trail that connects to Grant Park. I’ve ridden that trail many times in the last 15 or more years. Today, I chose to walk it for the first time and really discovered the extent or that section of the Forked Aster Hiking Trail.
The more than 2 miles of trails run throughout the park weaving back and forth across the bike trail, with sections following the top of the bluff, take you through dense forest then through ravines and back up to the top of the bluff for extraordinary views of Lake Michigan.
A word of warning while hiking near the bluff edge. with high lake water levels, some areas with less vegetation are being sacrificed to the extreme power of the waves. I have to point out that even though I know of this danger and I don’t recommend following my stupidity, I often walk near the edge to see the spectacular view. The painting above was painted last summer and I took the photo this afternoon. If you look closely at the photo you can see there has been much more erosion since the last time I’d dared to venture to the edge.
You’ll find intense pine forest, stands of pristine birch and old hard woods sided by what seems like wildly out of control shrubs. November may be cold, but it seems to be the best time of year to check out these trails. The bugs are mostly gone, the undergrowth has died off so the trails are relatively clear and dry so you can hike with ease and see much more of the forest. There were a few areas where the shrubs have created vault like structures over the trail and made it apparent that only small animals would fit through in the summer months. No need for a machete though, there are many round about cut through spurs to the paved trail.
As I’ve noted, I have biked through this area many times, seen much wildlife over the years, lots of the usual critters, birds, foxes and a few deer. There is a warning sign of coyote, I’ve yet to see them, but if you bring your dog they ask that you keep it on a leash. Also, it is a popular bike trail in warm weather and dangerous for both dog and bicyclists.
From the standpoint of a dog, Warnimont sports one of the best dog parks in Milwaukee county. It’s 5 acres are located in the southwest end of the park behind the Kelly Senior Center on South Lake drive. It is fenced in with wood chip trails and a separate puppy-small dog area. Although I’ve noticed that part of it can flood during excessive rains, overall it looks like everyone is having fun!
For athletic enthusiasts, there is a gold course on the north end and midway through a trail spur complete with heavy duty outdoor gym equipment. My lack of expertise in this area means I cannot tell you what each one does, but again, those using the machines look like they are having fun!
Parking is available on the south end in Grant park at the will-o-Way entrance with a bit walk to the woods past Lakeshore Tower Apartments. On the north end, park near the golf course club house. Take a short walk south to the woodlands.
In warm months the club house is open to those enjoying a game of golf or anyone using the trails. It’s a nice place to grab a snack mid hike if your coming from the south and a good spot to grab some hydration before your hike if starting on the north end.
This winter I plan to explore the trails on snowshoes. I think it will be great and I’ll write about my experience when we get some snow, but I still don’t know if the park contains any growth of forked asters. That will have to wait until next summer!
Thank you for reading to the end, happy trails!