Ozaukee Interurban Trail by Randy Winkleman
There is nothing better than lighting that first fire in the fireplace on a crisp fall day and reflecting back on memorable outings over the past year. Seems like all we can remember about the summer of 2012 was the heat and lack of rain, but I recalled one trip that stood out among all others. Back in late June, on yet another scorching day here in Madison, I decided to head to the coast. The coast of Lake Michigan that is! I packed up the bikes and a friend and I headed to Port Washington to ride the Ozaukee Interurban Trail. While the temperature flirted near 100 degrees in Madison, we had a beautiful 82 degrees near the shore of Lake Michigan. The Interurban trail is a wonderful, paved trail that runs more than 30 miles through Ozaukee county and unlike most trails in Wisconsin, there is no fee to use this trail. We started the trail right downtown in Port Washington, plenty of parking, a rest/picnic area, bathrooms and Lake Michigan in the background. We headed out of Port Washington making our way towards Cedarburg. The trail winds through neighborhoods, along a golf course, through wooded areas, through farm fields and often provides views of Lake Michigan in the distance. The trail uses an old railroad bed, therefore the majority of the trail is relatively flat. The cool lake breeze was a welcome relief after many days of sweltering heat back in Madison. We encountered many trail users traveling both directions along the trail and were always greeted with a friendly smile! Before we knew it, we had traveled 11 miles and decided to turn back. The ride back was a little more downhill requiring less effort and a chance to simply coast along and enjoy the beauty of the trail. As we arrived back at the starting point we heard the sounds of live music. We had hit the jackpot and out of sheer luck, the downtown of Port Washington had come alive with live music, vendors selling food, crafts and other things. We enjoyed a fabulous fish taco from one of the local vendors and walked the lighthouse pier enjoying the sunshine and cool breeze coming off Lake Michigan. We walked the sandy beach shoreline at the city’s public beach and even braved a dip in the icy waters of Lake Michigan. Finally, we called it a day and headed back to Madison, only to return to 100 degree temperatures. We were so glad we headed to the shoreline for a day we would never forget and a place we surely will head back to on one of those hot summer days in Madison. There are lots of shops, restaurants, a beautiful wharf, public beach, and lighthouse pier all right downtown in Port Washington just two blocks from the start of the bike trail. Check out the website for more information on the trail.