Suburban Soles Guided Nature Walks

Join the Friends of Grant Park and special guest experts on this bi monthly adventure of nature vs nurture, as we study and learn about various topics such as native plants & flowers, invasive species, water life and health and the history of the South Milwaukee and the Oak Creek area.


Connecting to the Forked Aster Trail near the old Mill Pond, we begin our 1.5 mile loop venture along the Oak Creek and winding down the dirt trails thru the valley of the Oak Creek Parkway. Once we make our way to the Grant Park Clubhouse, we continue down historic Hawthorne Avenue and back down Mill Hill to end where we began, at 6th and Milwaukee.

We start at 10 am on the corner of 6th & Milwaukee (Mill Hill) on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month. Future walks are scheduled as follows:

June 10th – “This Land is Your Land” 
Join the Friends of Grant Park and Milwaukee County Parks Natural Area Specialist, Brian Russart, to learn about invasive species that have infiltrated the park and affected the environment. As we stroll, participants will be shown how to identify some of these invasives, such as Garlic Mustard and Japanese Knotweed. We will even have the opportunity to pull out a few of the invaders, along the way.

June 24th – “Bloom Where You Are Planted” 
Milwaukee’s eastern region botanist, Sierra Dawkins will lead us on this exciting wildflower walk, consisting of identification of native plants and flowers of Wisconsin as well as identification of troublesome invasive plant species. Bring your walking shoes, curiosity and a good attitude! All backgrounds welcome!

July 8th – “Historic Escape” 
In addition to the tour route being surrounded by great natural beauty, it also encompasses some of South Milwaukee’s most significant historic sites. South Milwaukee historian Nels Monson will lead this fact-filled event where you will hear and learn about city founder John Fowle, the Mill Pond, the railroad trestle stretching over Mill Road as well as the Grant Park golf course club house, the Hawthorne House and other items of historic interest. For anyone with a genuine interest in the history of South Milwaukee, this walking tour is sure to please.

July 22nd – “Sweet Success” 
What is a pollinator? What species live in Grant Park and surroundings communities? Why are they important to us? Join Brooke Gilley, Naturalist at Wehr Nature Center, as we journey through Grant Park to find out the answers to these questions. A pair binoculars or camera is strongly suggested for this hike.

August 12th – “Healthy Water, Healthy Land” 
Explore the ecosystem of Oak Creek with Jan Marsh, EPA watershed expert and Laura Herrick, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission Chief Environmental Engineer, as they lead a walk along the Oak Creek channel. We will talk about the watershed landscape which surrounds the creek and the impacts of human activity in the area. We will also discuss how the creek corridor handles flood events, how those have changed over time, and how the stream has adapted to those changes. We will also look at features along the main stream channel and how they impact water quality, fish, and other aquatic organisms.

August 22nd -“One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” 
Water Resources Biologist Craig Helker, with the Wisconsin DNR, will talk about how rivers work, their form, and how the critters present reflect the environments water quality. Learn how fish surveys are done using a backpack electro-shocker and study aquatic macro-invertebrates (bugs), collected in a kick-net.

September 9th – “Fun with Fungi” 
While the fungi kingdom includes several thousand species, there is less scientific knowledge (approx. 15 % classified) vs. the plant and animal kingdoms. But new research, along with historic information, show how fungi is involved with almost every aspect of our life. Alan Bunde, President of the Wisconsin Mycological Society, an amateur mushroom enthusiast club, will provide a basic overview of different local mushroom types and their interaction with our environment.

September 23rd – “Put Your Garden to Rest” 
Many of our natural areas have been damaged to the point of becoming unrecognizable from their original pre-European settlement appearance. Still much of that original vegetation remains in small parcels scattered here and there in county parks, woodlots, and field edges.On this walk, join Bryce Ruddock, co-author of “Integrated Forest Gardening: the Complete Guide to Polyculture and Plant Guilds in Permaculture systems” as we begin to look at what nature has to share with us and ways to add these natural beauties to where we live.

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