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Featured national recreation trail

Jacobus Park Nature Trail, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

A hiking and biking loop trail takes visitors through a woodland island in Metropolitan Milwaukee.

By Jim Ciha and Jim Price

Map of Wisconsin


Jacobus Park in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, is an outstanding example of an undisturbed woodland environment remaining in the highly developed urban setting of metropolitan Milwaukee. With more than 160 native species surveyed, among them several state-listed Threatened and Endangered Species, it is a unique natural outdoor classroom for schoolchildren and area citizens.

Photo of trail with wood rail fence on one side

Part of the trail through Jacobus Park (photo by Guy Smith)



By 2000, the park's 35-year-old trail system and interpretive signage had reached a state of disrepair. Walkways and wooden signs were crumbling. To raise funds for renovation, the Charles Jacobus Park Neighborhood Association, the City of Wauwatosa, Milwaukee County, and the State of Wisconsin became partners.

Neighborhood volunteers provided $30,000 and nearly $100,000 was raised through matching grants. Walkways, signs, post and railing fencing, stone steps and a wooden bridge were repaired to bring the trails system up to current standards

So ODNR Division of Wildlife started talking about the idea of a state water trail program to other state agencies including Watercraft, State Parks, Scenic Rivers Program, and Real Estate and Land Management.

Photo of kiosk with big park map

Park and trail map at jacobus Park (photo by Guy Smith)



New stainless-steel signs provide a durable, vandal-resistant medium on which the story of the park is told. These acid-etched signs offer text and graphic images of the unique plants and ecosystems in the park. The examples help the reader consider the diversity of the park environment and how they can help protect it.


The renovated Jacobus Park Nature Trail System serves schoolchildren throughout the Milwaukee Area who use it for outdoor education and field trips. The signs are helping teachers and parents lead self-interpretive walks that provide their children valuable lessons in environmental education that cannot be learned in the classroom.

Photo of trail going down stairs to pond


Jacobus Park is located at 6501 W. Hillside Lane, Wauwatosa, WI

For more information:

Milwaukee County Park System
9480 Watertown Plank Road
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
(414) 257-4782

The National Recreation Trails Program
American Trails, P.O. Box 491797, Redding, CA 96049-1797 (530) 547-2060 Fax: (530) 547-2035


Enter the annual Photo Contest for National Recreation Trails

Photo of boardwalk in swamp
Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest (photo: Mark Musselman)

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