Access to Lake Michigan is largely from Milwaukee
County parks. Note: the parks are officially closed from 10:00 p.m.
until 6:00 a.m. I know from personal experience that the 10:00 p.m. is
enforced. The following are the most kayaker friendly (have parking
and reasonable access to a launching/landing zone). Some also have
restroom facilities and concession stands that are open on a "seasonal" basis. From south to north the Milwaukee County sites
Bender Park--the first stop in Milwaukee County
when coming up from the south. This is largely an undeveloped park, but it
does have a developed parking area, boat docks and ramps, beach landing area,
restrooms, and drinking water.
sandy beach, lots of parking and restrooms. Suppose you could hike up the
road to the golf course club house for some food if you really needed to, but
I'd suggest keeping someone behind to watch over your equipment.
South Shore Park--the most frequented site in
Milwaukee County by those of us who live here. There's a group of kayakers
launching at 9:00 a.m. virtually every Sunday, when the Lake is in a liquid
state. These Sunday morning
paddles are more a get together of kayakers with a wide range of skills who
paddle for a couple of hours (when it's cold and nasty we paddle for an hour or
so) and then go for coffee and soup or whatever. The launching here is
protected by a breakwall, and if the Lake is really kicking-up, you can have a
nice paddle south for a couple of miles or north for about three miles, all
within the protection of the breakwall. But, don't be lulled into thinking
this is all a "a paddle in the park". The water is Lake
Michigan, which means it's cold most of the year. And the wind from the
south, SE, SW or north, NE, NW has been know to be brutal and kick up a lot of
chop on the water, even inside the breakwall.
Lakeshore State Park--located
in the Milwaukee harbor and just north of the entrance to the Milwaukee River is
the 17-acre site of the new Lakeshore State Park. With groundbreaking in
2005, the Department of Natural Resources will be developing this site into an
urban oasis complete with boat docks and a protected beach landing area for
kayakers. This will most likely be a
"touch and go" point on the water trail as there won't be camping on
the island and access will be by foot, boat or bike only.
of the main harbor and downtown area. McKinley actually consists of two beaches,
the southern one being sandy and the northern one is "pebble".
McKinley is just north of the McKinley marina, which from the water is accessed
through the harbor. At the marina you will find lots of parking,
restrooms, water and a snack shop. Across the street (Lincoln Memorial
Drive) from the street entrance to the marina is one of the finer coffee shops
in the Milwaukee area--Alterra at the Lake, they also serve food.
north of McKinley about .25 mile is Bradford Beach. A long sandy beach
that at one time was a real gem--unfortunately it has not been maintained and is
now famous for the rotting algae in the summer and is being taken over by
invading plant life. Bradford does have plenty of parking, restrooms,
water, and seasonal concession stands.
Doctors Park--the last stop in Milwaukee
County. If the restrooms at the beach are not open, take the steps up the
bluff and you'll find another building with restrooms that have longer
"open" hours. Doctors Park is a good place to paddle from--as a
destination/take-out point the steep hill is brutal to haul a kayak and gear up.