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A line of hikers on a woodland trail

Photo essay: A winter hike along the Milwaukee River

February 7, 2020  |  Topics: Places, Stories

Story and photos by Troy Freund

I went with the Urban Wilderness Explorers on a hike along the Milwaukee River at the end of January. We hiked a loop on the Milwaukee River Greenway between Capitol Drive and Port Washington Road. The single-track trail on the west side of the river was ice-covered, making it tricky and slow-going. But the hikers persevered. Many saw a portion of urban wilderness they were unfamiliar with!

Hikers on the icy west bank trail
Icy west bank trail

On the east side of the river, the group returned on the paved Oak Leaf Trail through Estabrook Park, which was much easier.

Eddee Daniel, who is currently serving as an ARTservancy Artist in Residence in the Milwaukee River Greenway, led the hike. He was assisted in answering hikers’ questions by three River Revitalization Foundation (RRF) staff members, who were also on the hike. RRF is Milwaukee’s urban rivers land trust and a major stakeholder in the Greenway.

Mallards on the icy river
Mallards on the icy river

Wildlife was scarce, except for a number of ducks on the river, including the ubiquitous mallards and some surprisingly early migrators: common goldeneye. We also heard other birds and saw deer tracks, as well as LOTS of evidence of beaver activity along the river. 

Beaver chew
Beaver chew

The Urban Wilderness Explorers go on hikes regularly. If you’d like to be apprised of the next opportunity, feel free to join the group on

Here is a selection of images from the hike.

The west bank trail under the Capitol Dr. bridge
Kimberly Gleffe, Executive Director of RRF, answering questions from the group
More evidence of the beaver
The urban wilderness
Group portrait of Urban Wilderness Explorers on Oak Leaf Trail
Group portrait of Urban Wilderness Explorers on Oak Leaf Trail

Troy Freund is a Milwaukee-based photographer and consultant, currently working with A Wealth of Nature. RRF is a project partner to A Wealth of Nature.