As parents, we all know that getting our kids outside and active is important for their physical and mental health.
Outdoor activities like hiking can help children develop a love of nature, boost their confidence and self-esteem, and provide an opportunity for family bonding.
However, finding hiking trails that are suitable for kids of different ages and abilities can be a challenge.
Many hiking trails are too steep, too long, or too difficult for young children to handle, and without a kid-friendly option, families may miss out on the benefits of hiking altogether. Additionally, finding trails that are safe and well-marked can be a concern for parents.
Explore Lapham Peak State Park with your kids, just a short drive from downtown Milwaukee.
It’s one of our favorite easy hikes for kids around Milwaukee, and we know you’ll love it.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly hiking destination in the Wisconsin State Parks system, Lapham Peak State Park in Delafield may be just the place for you.
With over 17 miles of trails that range from easy to moderate, there are plenty of options for hikers of all ages and abilities.
Whether you’re looking for a short, scenic walk or a longer, more challenging hike, the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Lapham Peak Unit has excellent hiking for everyone.
The park also offers several amenities that make it a great destination for families, including picnic areas, a nature center, and even a tower with panoramic views of the surrounding area.
In this blog post, we’ll provide you with tips and tricks for hiking Lapham Peak with kids, including what to bring, which nature trails to explore, and how to make the most of your family hiking adventure.
So grab your hiking shoes, pack a backpack with snacks and water, and get ready for a day of outdoor fun and exploration with your little ones.
What to Bring
Before you head out, be sure to that everyone is wearing appropriate clothing for what weather southern Wisconsin decides to bring that day. Layers are usually a good idea.
It’s also important to wear comfortable shoes for walking.
In the summer, you’ll want to pack extra sunscreen and bug spray.
And of course, packing a water bottle and variety of healthy snacks will make the experience last longer and be more enjoyable.
You’ll also need a Wisconsin State Park System vehicle admission sticker is required on all motor vehicles stopping in state parks, forests and recreation areas. Annual vehicle admission stickers offer admission to all state parks and forests for the calendar year
You can purchase one online or at the state park.
You can also buy a day pass that is good for the date of issue.
Bringing a trail map or screenshotting one on your phone is also a good idea.
Lapham Peak is 25 miles west of Milwaukee and 1 mile south of Interstate 94 near Delafield, on County Highway C.
The forest is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. year-round.
From the Milwaukee area, we headed west on 94, exited on County Hwy C, and headed south. The park entrance will be on your left.
Put this address in your GPS: W329 N846, County Trunk Hwy C, Delafield, WI 53018
Trails to Explore
We recommend starting at the Hausman Nature Center and picking up the Plantation Path trail from there.
It’s a blacktopped, handicapped accessible trail through a prairie and wooded area. The Butterfly Garden is located just east of this path. Check the map before you go!
The Plantation Path will lead you to the crown jewel of the park, 45-foot observation tower atop the highest point in Waukesha County (1,233 feet above sea level) to take in the beautiful views.
The Lapham Peak Observation Tower is especially spectacular in the fall!
If you want to skip the hike and go right to the observation tower, there is a convenient parking lot located very close-by.
Tips & Tricks
Keep an eye out for wildlife.
There are deer, groundhogs, turkeys, raptors, and seasonal birds, including sandhill cranes, blue birds, warblers, etc.
If you are lucky, you might see a fox, skunk, raccoon, coyote, mink, badger, or more! Seasonal wildflowers are also spectacular in the park.
Go inside the Nature Center if it’s open.
The Hausmann Nature Center was the original 8700 square foot home of Bernice and Dr. Paul Hausmann. They donated their home to the state of Wisconsin to convert it into a nature center that would promote environmental education.
With its location near the top of Lapham Peak and abundant windows, people can take in spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Check out the displays that illustrate native plants and animals, the geologic history of Lapham Peak and several Native American artifacts found on the property.
Look for landmarks.
Find this plaque on the observation tower, and see if you can find I-94, Delafield, Holy Hill, and Nagawicka lake to the north.
To the northeast, look for Pewaukee Lake.
To the east, see if you can find the Milwaukee skyline, and the U.S. Bank and Northwestern Mutual Building.
To the southeast. look for the Ice Age Trail.
To the Northwest, look for the Ice Age Trail and Nemahbin Lakes.
What other kid-friendly hikes do you like? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.
In 2013, Calie Herbst, a former teacher with three little ones, saw a need for a “One Stop Shop” for family fun in Milwaukee. So she founded Milwaukee With Kids. Her goal was to find the best this city has to offer families and share it with other parents. In one place.
In 2019, she published “Exploring Milwaukee WIth Kids”, a comprehensive Milwaukee travel guide for families and kids.
She appears regularly on WISN News, Fox 6’s ‘Real Milwaukee’, B93.3, and Wisconsin Morning News. She has been featured in Medium, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, NPR, the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, and on CBS 58 News.
Calie is available for hosting, moderating and media appearances.