Well, the leaves they are a-changin'. The fall foliage peaks this weekend in southeastern Wisconsin, so it's the perfect time to find an Observation Tower or scenic drive to take it all in.
The DNR's Observation Towers are officially closed this year, but here are some observation towers and scenic overlooks that are still accessible in 2020.
We are so thankful to our partners at the Child Advancement Network (CAN) for sponsoring us this season. CAN was established as a broad-based, comprehensive, and innovative approach to child health via partnerships, advocacy and collaborations aimed at advancing the wellbeing of children across domains of health. Learn more about them here.
Kadish Park (AKA Kilbourne Reservoir Park)
750 E North Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53212
Established in 2007 at the intersection of three Milwaukee neighborhoods, Alice Bertschy Kadish Park is the result of a public-private partnership. The City of Milwaukee leases the entire park area to the nonprofit COA Youth & Family Centers, which obtained an endowment that provides for upkeep and maintenance. Climb the stairs from North Ave. for an incredible view of the city skyline and surrounding trees!
Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive
Follow the green acorn signs! It's the best time of the year to ride along the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. Enjoy the beauty and geological variety of southeast Wisconsin along this 115-mile drive that covers six Wisconsin counties. The northern end begins near Elkhart Lake in northern Sheboygan County and the southern end begins at Whitewater Lake in southeastern Walworth County. There are numerous places to picnic and hike along the way.
Do you want beautiful views of Holy Hill? Drive along Hwy K.
Mequon Nature Preserve (Tower Open) - Free Admission!
Mequon Nature Preserve sits on over 400 acres of beech maple forest and wooded wetlands. There are five miles of trails for families to enjoy, and it's completely free to visit! You can also bring pets as long as they are on a leash. To access the Observation Tower, enter off of Swan Rd. and walk past Pat's Pond. The trail map is located on MNP's website.
Retzer Nature Center (Free admission!)
S14W28167 Madison St, Waukesha, WI 53188
For an expansive view of Waukesha, follow the Orange Loop (or take a shortcut) to the Vista marked on this Trail Map. While you're there, don't miss Scarecrow Lane, a half mile looped marked with creative community-made scarecrows.
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (Tower Open)
1111 E Brown Deer Rd, Bayside, WI 53217
When it’s not rainy or snowy, you can walk a short quarter mile from the main building & parking lot, and climb the 60-ft. Observation Tower for a spectacular view of the surrounding area including Lake Michigan. While you're there, don't miss Mystery Lake, a turtle and frog paradise tucked away in the forest!
Parnell Tower (Tower currently closed)
W7876 Co Rd U, Plymouth, WI 53073
Holy Hill National Shrine of Mary (Tower Currently Closed)
1525 Carmel Rd, Hubertus, WI 53033
The scenic tower at Holy Hill is just up the stairs from the parking lot. It stretches 192 feet at its base, and has 178 stairs. It’s actually kind of scary, in a good-adventures-are-kinda-scary type of way. The views are unparalleled. On a clear day, you can even see the skyline of downtown Milwaukee.
Lapham Peak (Tower Currently Closed)
W 329 N 846, Delafield, WI 53018
Start your trip at the Hausmann Nature Center where you’ll find a children’s interactive area, great views of the forest, and nature exhibits. From there, it’s a relatively easy hike to the 45-foot observation tower that sits atop the highest point in Waukesha County (1,233 feet above sea level). You’ll see lake country for miles.
Kettle Moraine State Forest Pike Lake Unit (Tower Currently Closed)
3544 Kettle Moraine Rd., Hartford, WI 53086
The trailhead of the hike to Powder Hill is about a half mile away from the Nature Trail parking lot. Powder Hill is the second highest point in southeastern Wisconsin, and you can climb the observation tower for a panoramic view.
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