The “Westabrook” Trail is located on the West bank of the Milwaukee River, where the Estabrook Dam was removed. It is within the Milwaukee River Greenway and covers approximately 800 acres of urban riparian greenspace coursing through three municipalities.
Easements have been secured from three landowners in the Glendale Corporate Park to accommodate a public access trail, connecting to and creating a 3-mile loop along the riverfront from Port Washington Road and Hampton Avenue to Capitol Drive and Humboldt Boulevard.
One section of the proposed trail has been improved and the bank restored post-dam removal by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD). This section emulates what the rest of the trail could look like: native vegetation, bank stabilization, benches, overlooks and fishing platforms along a sustainable crushed gravel surface. “Blue Hole,” a water-filled quarry adjacent to a newly developed solid waste landfill site, offers unique habitat, and there is documented presence of dragonflies and mussels.
Milwaukee Area Technical College donated this 1-mile, 14-foot wide easement in 2013, which became RRF’s first recreational trail easement! This link on the west bank connects Capitol and Humboldt (Kern Park) to the “blue hole,” a recommendation in the Greenway Master Plan is to put together these riverfront trail connections to create a 13-mile loop in the river valley.
In 2019-20, Glendale Corporate Park landowners (Ascension, Barnabus, Caddis) also donated recreational easements, another ½ mile, to build further connections along the river and links to the downstream MATC trail. The City of Glendale supports this project and will incorporate it into its Park and Open Space Plan, encouraging people to access and enjoy the river and parks nearby. This is another 3-mile loop within the Greenway from Capitol and Humboldt to Port Washington and Hampton Avenue, encompassing Estabrook Parkway and Lincoln Park. Of interest at this location is the Estabrook Dam, which was demolished in 2018, removing barriers for fish passage and improving water quality.
A feature along the trail is art sculptures by Tom Queoff that use dam remnants are installed at the falls.
Thanks to an NCCC Americorps Crew, Maple 1, the Westabrook Trail construction began in Fall 2021. Under the fearless leadership of Tim Malzhan of Trail Eyes LLC, and his comrades, Jason and Mark, many hours were spent clearing and grubbing, placing silt sock erosion control, and laying geotextile fabric and aggregate to define the hiking trail.
There is a meandering path at the down stream end of the project area near the “Blue Hole” which continues upstream to connect to Port Washington Road at Hampton. Volunteers from JCI helped build a bridge here! (See photos below)
None of this could be accomplished without the generous support of the landowners in the Glendale Corporate Park (Holiday Inn, Barnabus, Ascension and Caddis Healthcare) who donated easements and permission to cross their land and accommodate the trail.
Our most sincere thanks to Impact 100, the Fund for Lake Michigan and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation among others who provided grant funding for this project. All the “leg work” that took about 7 years brought us to this point – building a trail with the Americorps crew, Trail Eyes LLC, RRF staff and volunteers, and corporate volunteers. Thank you to all who helped make this trail a reality.
We are so excited about this accomplishment and hope the community enjoys this treasured amenity along the beautiful Milwaukee River!
To see some trail work in action, fast forward to 2:22 on this video!
Record your bird sightings at Westabrook – MATC Trail on eBird