10 Things You Can Find Along the East River Trail

Discover-the-East-River-Trail3

Wisconsin was recently ranked as one of the most bicycle-friendly places in America The League of American Bicyclists put Wisconsin in 3rd place – rising from 8th in 2013.

One of the best places for a leisurely bike ride in the Greater Green Bay Area is the East River Trail, which winds through De Pere, Ledgeview, Allouez, Bellevue and Green Bay’s east side.

Our newest WhooNEW contributor, Matt Welter, gives us a look at some of the highlights and interesting stops you’ll find along the trail.

1. Wildlife

Wildlife - east river trail

Whether it’s deer, turkeys, rabbits, green herons or red-tailed hawks, there are a lot of animals, which is surprising considering this trail runs through urban and suburban areas.

Then again it does follow a river with green spaces. Bring your camera or light binoculars along. You can usually see lots of birds including red winged blackbirds, orioles, robins, and goldfinches.

If you bird by ear you can hear catbirds, common yellowthroats, savannah sparrows, woodcock, wood thrushes, warbling vireos and rose breasted grosbeaks. Frogs, toads, and turtles can be spotted along the wetter areas.

2. Frisbee Golf

Frisbee Golf - East River Trail

The village of Allouez just added the Dier Straits Disc Golf course at the north end of Wiese Park. It has nine holes. It is also a little rugged.

Bring bug spray and expect to do a little searching through the brush if your disc goes off course. Watch where you step. Terrain is uneven and fresh cut stumps and wooden scraps are easy to trip over.

3.  Gardens

Gardens - East river trail

The showcase garden site along the trail is at the UW-Extension on Bellevue Ave. At these experimental gardens you can enjoy the Master Gardener’s garden just north of the building, look at the organic garden, the prairie garden or even look at a plot with 8 different kinds of grass growing side-by-side.

Neighbors also have different gardens, and including one outside of Biebel’s catering.

4.  Tiendas

Tiendas - east river trail

The closest is on Main Street, just a block east of the trail. La Espiga is Green Bay’s only tortilla factory, making fresh corn tortillas daily. It also features a butcher shop, Mexican pastries and sodas, fresh burritos, tortas (Mexican sandwiches), and roasted chicken, which they will chop up for you before you leave.

The second closest is La Palma located three blocks east and one block south of Weistmeister road. It has Mexican ice cream bars and other goodies.

5. Stillmank Brewery

Stillmank Brewery

Green Bay’s newest brewery is located one block east of the trail on Henry Street. Stillmank Brewing Company is soon to open a tap room and will have three different brews on tap.

6. Packer Heritage Trail

Packer Heritage Trail

There is a Packer Heritage Trail sign on the north side of Main Street indicates this is where the Acme Packing Plant that sponsored the Green Bay Packers originally stood.

What is interesting about this sign is that if you continue north on this part of the trail you weave behind some industrial areas and it gives you a feeling Green Bay’s heritage.

7.  Side Trails

Side Trails - east river trail

Throughout the trail there are interesting side trails:

  • In Weise Park there is a back loop on the northeast corner of the Park that goes past a wet prairie and through an oak woods.
  • The north end near Danz Avenue connects to the Baird Creek Parkway.
  • At the southernmost end of the East River Trail, a side trail leads to both to the high end Bleu restaurant and a coffee shop/cupcake house called The Creamery.
  • In East River Park there is a gravel side trail that follows along the river.
  • In Green Isle Park you can loop around or even go a couple blocks west from the main entrance to get some Zesty’s Frozen Custard.
  • Along much of the trail there are also official and unofficial side trails to look over the river.

8. Softball and Soccer

Softball and Soccer

In Weise, Ledgeview, Green Isle and Parkway Riverview Parks you can see these activities most weeknights during the summer. All but Weise have concession stands that you can grab a frozen treat or snack and watch the game.

9. Different Natural Habitats

Different Habitats - east river trail

Depending on the season the trail offers up some interesting smells from honeysuckle, to basswood flowers, to clover, to bergamot, to fresh mown hay. It just depends on what habitat you are in.

A concerted effort has been made to add ponds and prairie restoration areas in the Allouez areas of the trail. Wooded areas of ash, cottonwood and oak trees offer cool shaded parts of the trail with spring ephemeral flowers.

In Weise Park there are wet grassland areas. North of Green Isle Park and on the just south of Weise Park there are wetland areas. There are also various open grasslands throughout the trail.

10. Beautiful Bridges

Bridges - east river trail

There are some real scenic bridges throughout the trail. The most scenic is just north of Green Isle Park, and you may find a wedding party holding up bridge traffic to take pictures.

Three bridges are located in DePere/Ledgeview. Another two are just off of Sullivan School grounds, one of which leads to East High School and the Old City Stadium (hey, that’s more Packer Heritage!)

Other interesting surprises along the trail may include fireflies, woodcock sky-dancing, the smell of Biebel’s Catering roasting a pig, an annual vintage car show in Green Isle Park, antique planes flying over heading Oshkosh, or the announcer’s voice at Lambeau Field.

East River Trail Safety Tips, Rules & Reminders

When bicycling go easy. Blind curves, bumpy roads and broken branches are par for the course. If you’re a racer this trail may not appeal to you. Especially be cautious when going under overpasses as they tend to have slick gravel, people stopped along the trail and double blind curves. Wear a helmet and be mindful of low untrimmed branches.

Keep to the right side of the trail. Runners and bicyclists frequent the trail and it is courteous to allow them to pass. Bicyclists be patient, bring a bell or give a polite “On your left!” as you approach. Be sure to slow down as you approach.

Amazingly most of the trail does not cross street areas. Still there are a few spots where it is necessary to follow roads. Most notably are from KI Office Furniture to Biebel’s Catering, from Mason Street to Anne Sullivan School and across Henry Street. Be cautious in these area and be aware of traffic. Because of recent public service promotions in the Green Bay area you may be pleasantly surprised when traffic slows or stops to let you across. Reciprocate this courtesy by not tarrying in the road.

For emergency situations there are markers for much of the trail every .1 miles. These posts can help emergency response staff find your location faster.

If stopping along the trail or walking to the side there are some natural hazards. Prickly ash, wild parsnip and poison ivy are in spots.

Mosquitoes and biting flies are pesky to walkers and hikers. Bring some bug spray.

During rainy seasons the East River widens and even floods the trail, especially at the south most end in De Pere/Ledgeview. It is impassible by bicycle during this time and at times to walkers. If you own a pair of aqua socks and don’t mind getting wet, it’s an adventurous stroll. Be aware that a large sucker fish or some leaches may brush your ankles.

Different areas of the trail have different dog leash rules. The best practice is to bring a shorter leash and doggy pickup bags. Poor form is to allow you and your dog to take up the width of the trail.

Bring cameras as there are always opportunities to photograph wildlife, flowers and scenery. If you have GPS there are a few geocaches along the trail.

Plans for the Future of the East River Trail

In the not-so distant future, the East River Trail could be connected to two other popular trails in the Green Bay Area.

The city has plans to adjoin the trail to the Fox River State Recreational Trail. That will mean you could go from The Fox River Trail to the East River Trail to the Baird Creek Parkway Trail. Those working on the project say it will not only make it easier for people to safely travel the area, but it could have a positive economic impact too.

“The connection will benefit the entire regional trail system, but will especially become an asset to neighboring homes and businesses; the success of the Fox River Recreational Trail offers a shining local example of the positive impacts of new trails…But the East River corridor is unique from the Fox River in many ways, and holds the potential to enhance the vibrant urban environment of Olde Main Street and the Three Corners, Downtown, Joannes and Navarino neighborhoods. “

Find out more about these plans on the Downtown Green Bay website.

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Comments

  1. Koit Ojamaa says:

    First and foremost please display an accurate and detailed MAP of the trail.
    Everything you say is pointless if one does not know WHERE the trail is!

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