|Distance||3 miles roundtrip|
- Lake Michigan views
- Beach access via stairs into the gorge
- Beautiful, quiet forest
There is a reason this hike is so popular. Only half an hour from Milwaukee, Lion's Den Gorge offers pristine nature on bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan accessible via short easy trails. Despite the number of people on the trail, I had my closest encounter with a family of deer yet (and if you've read my site, you know I hike a lot) -- no pictures though, I didn't want to scare them away with sudden movements. Everyone looking for a hike near Milwaukee should try this trail.
Dogs are allowed on leash. This is an excellent family friendly hike: it's short, flat, and scenic with lake access for your kids to play on the beach. If you need an accessible route, take the Lion's Den Trail there and back rather than doing a complete loop; this trail is flat with boardwalk and crushed limestone segments. In addition, both the Gorge Vista and Lake Vista are accessible. Winter use of the trail isn't directly specified, but the brochure lists cross country skiing as an activity in Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve and shows a picture of the bridge pictured further down the page covered in snow.
The trail begins as a boardwalk through a lovely forested marsh area -- see the picture below. Continue following signs for the Lion's Den Trail, turning left at the first intersection, then right at the next. You will eventually arrive at a kiosk with the accessible Lake Vista directly ahead and the Lion's Den Trail continuing on the left. I opted to save the Bluff Trail for the return trip (best for last); turn left if you want to do the same, otherwise continue straight to the Bluff Trail.
From Milwaukee, take Interstate 43 north. Exit at Wisconsin Highway 60/County Road Q in Grafton and turn right. Turn left onto County Road C, then turn right on High Bluff Drive. Continue on High Bluff Drive until you reach the park.
Google Maps Directions
Parking, Fees, and Facilities
Parking is free! This is a popular trail and the small lot fills up fast, so be sure to get here early. There is additional parking along the road into the park if the lot is full. There are port-a-potties (one accessible) in the lot.