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Home > Programs > Outdoor Education > Hawthorn Glen

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Hawthorn Glen is a 23-acre nature center that primarily serves as a field trip location on weekdays for 12,000 children annually. Natural features include steep bluffs, flood-plain hardwood forest, spring-fed wetland, and a restored prairie. Visitors to this urban nature center can explore five different habitats interconnected by a trail system. The public is welcome to utilize our facility and the well-marked ¾ mile self-guided nature trail in the evenings or on weekends (the lower trail is mostly blacktopped and ADA accessible). Many seasonal programs are offered on the weekends.


Trails are designated for hiking only. Hikers are reminded to leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but memories, and watch for wildlife. Hawthorn Glen is home to deer, foxes, raccoons, opossum, rabbits, chipmunks, woodchucks, two species of hawks, many migratory birds, and songbirds of all kinds year-round.

Nature Museum

Come visit our Nature Museum and see native animals of Wisconsin, including tree frogs, several species of turtles and our six foot bullsnake. It is open weekdays (4:00-5:00 pm) and weekends (11:00-11:45 am and 3:00-4:00 pm). Admission is FREE!


Cross-country skiing

We are also an excellent location for cross-country skiing, located right in the city!


Picnic Areas

Hawthorn Glen also has two shelters/picnic areas and a meeting room (reservations needed), picnic tables, play equipment, and a fire pit. Hawthorn Glen offers visitors a choice of two picnic areas. Picnic Area #1 is directly south of the fieldhouse. This shelter provides picnic tables to accommodate up to 100 people, electricity, and a firepit. Picnic Area #2 is just northeast of the fieldhouse. The octagonal shelter provides picnic tables for up to 60 people and a firepit.

Reservations are required for either picnic area if your group is ten people or more. Please bring your own firewood. Removal of fallen timber from the woods for burning is not permitted. As our educational center is under the auspices of Milwaukee Public Schools, we must follow all School Board policies (just like a traditional, four-walled school): hence, no alcohol is allowed on the premises. Only city of Milwaukee residents may rent our facilities.

Call the Outdoor Education office at 647-6050 for reservations or information.


Color Brochure (PDF)

Educational Field Trip Listing (PDF)

Rules & Regulations (PDF)


A couple of Before & After shots of the buckthorn trees that were removed during the
Buckthorn Removal (habitat restoration) program implemented.

Unfortunately, there is a lot to go...but we are making excellent progress!!!

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