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Milwaukee, WI: Vern Wolf Lake Loop

Bring binocs on this 3.9-mile loop in the Richard Bong State Recreation Area; open grassland invites long views of Vern Wolf Lake, its shoreline, and flying falcons.

Rating

This multi-use park is open to outdoor enthusiasts from hikers to hunters and is crisscrossed with 40-some miles of multi-use trails. The area, once slated for development as an air force base, also has wide-open spaces that welcome fliers of all kinds from homemade rockets to model airplanes to more than 15 species of migratory birds. Both expansive prairies and woodlands surround the 150-acre lake at the center of this 3.9-mile clockwise loop.
Start by crossing a wooden boardwalk and road before turning east through an oak-sprinkled savanna. You’ll pass pine and pussy willows as you head south toward your first glimpses of Vern Wolf Lake. Three trails converge to squeeze across a dam at the lake’s eastern shore; watch for migrant loons, American white pelicans, snow geese and beaver activity. This route doglegs around the south end of the lake before heading west toward smaller ponds and past one of the area’s most popular picnic grounds. A half-mile from the end of the trail, you’ll pass restored prairielands and more scenic views of the lake.
Trail closures occur due to weather conditions and hunting seasons. Check availability by calling the Richard Bong State Recreation Area at (262) 878-5600.
-Mapped by Ted Villaire

To Trailhead

Drive 30 miles south of Milwaukee on I-94 E/US 41 and take exit 340 and merge with 120th Ave. In 0.3 miles, turn right onto Burlington Rd. and drive 9.1 miles and turn left into Richard Bong State Recreation Area. Drive past the visitors’ center and follow signs to the trailhead parking lot.

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