Photo by Rachel Hershberger, Wisconsin Department of Tourism
Once flowers start pushing their way out of the soil, spring can be the perfect time to hop on a bicycle and explore a new area.
The Ozaukee Interurban paved bicycle trail—30 miles in length—connecting six vibrant Ozaukee County cities (Thiensville, Cedarburg, Mequon, Port Washington, Belgium and Grafton) is the ideal marriage of urban and rural settings. It’s located within a 15-minute drive from downtown Milwaukee, directly north off of I-43, off of exit 82B (WI-100 W/W. Brown Deer Rd.), on former electric rail lines that thrived during their operation. According to historical records, famous African American blues musicians—many hailing from the South—hopped the train to Paramount Records’ Port Washington studio to record and rehearse during the 1920s and 1930s. The line discontinued service in 1951.
So grab a bike and helmet and get to ride—here’s how to have the perfect day on this trail.
11 a.m. Good to Go
Start the trail in Mequon, which is the trail’s southernmost point at West County Line Road, a few blocks west of North Green Bay Road. This is the dividing line between Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties.
11:30 a.m. A Worldly Lunch Spot
Between Highway 167/Mequon Road and West Freistadt Road, veer east off of the trail at Buntrock Avenue (which turns into Green Bay Road) to have lunch at The Cheel, a Nepalese restaurant that’s wildly popular in Ozaukee County, which opened in 2014. While evenings are a hit with locals thanks to solid live-music entertainment (to the likes of Leroy Stairmaster), lunch is worth a visit, too. Co-owner Barkha Daily grew up cooking with her family in Kathmandu, moving from Nepal to Milwaukee in 2003. Her husband Jesse helps out in the restaurant, too. Vegetarians will have no trouble finding options to order.
1:30 p.m. Refuel and Recharge
Where the trail crosses Pigeon Creek— just past Highland Road—is a great spot to whip out your water bottle and a snack. Don’t forget to breathe in the fresh air, check your tires for air and reflect on a beautiful afternoon.
2 p.m. History, Relived
A lesser-known history museum is the Jonathan Clark House, a good example of Ozaukee County’s stone structure buildings. Even today, some homeowners— particularly in Cedarburg—are proud to say they live in stone-walled homes. To reach the Greek Revival house, exit the trail at West Bonniwell Road and travel east two blocks to the house. Built in 1848, volunteers have worked tirelessly to restore the interior and exterior, and share stories about Ozaukee County’s history, including settler Jonathan Clark Even if it’s not open during your visit, a glimpse of the limestone and fieldstone house is a real treat. In 1982, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
3 p.m. Break and Browse
You’ve cycled just over 10 miles so far! You deserve a break, so exit the trail at Center Street. Downtown Cedarburg’s Washington Avenue is the perfect spot to lock up your bike, stretch your calves and stroll through quaint antique shops and eclectic boutiques. One of the first shops you’ll see is Amy’s Candy Kitchen, known for its caramel apples and chocolates. If your sweet tooth is calling, pick up a small treat. A block south, Cedarburg Cultural Center’s rotating art exhibits are always free to view.
GOOD TO KNOW
- One unique aspect of this trail is that there is no trail fee, unlike Wisconsin’s state parks.
- Keep in mind that with two vehicles, you can cover more ground and not have to loop back to your car.
- Trail markers every half-mile on the trail indicate how far you’ve traveled— ideal if you have some pre-set goals for the number of miles you want to cover.
GRAB SOME WHEELS
Don’t have your own wheels? If you’re coming from the south, stop at Fyxation’s retail store in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, at the corner of Humboldt and Locust streets. A word of warning: this Milwaukee-based bicycle manufacturer’s wheels might dazzle you so much (the designs are stunning and they come highly rated) that you may decide to buy a bike for yourself. With the on-site showroom, it’s totally possible!
For rentals, prices start at $35 per day for steel commuter and hybrid bikes; aluminum mountain and fat bikes run $50 per day; while carbon adventure and fat bikes cost $75 per day. You can also rent by the week, in case you’re doing an overnight or weekend stay in Ozaukee County.
Either before or after your bicycle rental pickup, drop into Colectivo’s Humboldt Café & Roastery next door to fuel up with coffee, lunch or items to-go.
This article originally appeared in the 2018 spring/summer issue of Experience Wisconsin magazine. The contents of this article were checked for accuracy when it was published; however, it’s possible some of the information has changed. We recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the destinations, attractions or restaurants mentioned in this article.
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