In addition to the usual playing fields and playgrounds, Estabrook Park contains many natural and introduced features that help characterize the park and are the reasons that many people come to the park
- Waterfall and Limestone Ledge
2. Dog Park
in 2008, ROMP (Residents for Off-leash Milwaukee Parks) and the Milwaukee County Parks System campaigned for funds to create additional dog parks. This resulted in the opening, a couple of years later, of the new DEA (dog exercise area) in our park. This 3 acre fenced in DEA, located in an area with trees, benches and a separate small dog area, has proved quite popular with dog lovers. Permits for its use are issued for $25 per year.
This portion of the park, until it was re-purposed as a dog exercise area, was a dump for vegetative waste in the parks. It was graded, trees were planted and it was surrounded by a fence. Its presence reduced considerably the number of dogs running around off-leash in other parts of the park.
An annual celebration, “Barktoberfest” was begun in 2011 to bring together dog lovers and beer lovers in the Beer Garden. This popular event continues to be held every September.
Compared to larger bodies of water, the Estabrook pond may seem like a small scummy puddle. However, it is surprisingly diverse and dynamic, even more so than larger bodies of water. Dug out in the 1930s as part of the landscaping of the park, it was left relatively untouched, except for sporadic herbicide treatments, last used in the 1990s. For a time the pond had been stocked with trout fingerlings originating from the program that raises fish within the department of corrections. In recent years it has become a spring fishing spot with fish stocked annually (sometimes) by the county parks department.
Over the years, local biologists have seen this pond as a special place to study aquatic biology. The advantages that the pond provides by being unconnected to other bodies of water turn it into a unique and accessible living ecosystem.
The pond had been studied sporadically over the past 30 years by UWM botany and limnology researchers. But then, in 2015, UWM biologist John Berges received a grant from the National Science Foundation to study the pond and its processes to gain a greater understanding of aquatic ecosystems. He and his students have collected weekly samples to monitor nutrients, as well as using sensors in to constantly monitor the the temperature and light received by different regions of the pond.
4. River Trail
Dirt trails have a long history in the park. The old trail along the riverbank probably existed in some form before the Europeans arrived in the area. This trail runs from the corner of Port Washington and Hampton paralleling the river south to Capitol Drive where it connects to a trail that continues south to North Avenue. The trail is heavily used by hikers, birders and runners. Because much of this trail is along the river bank, it is subject to periodic flooding which makes the trail unusable and causes erosion.
The Milwaukee River Greenway Coalition has a goal of establishing a hiking trail available to the public on both sides of the Milwaukee River from the North Avenue dam site to Silver Spring Drive. As a member of the coalition, FOE has been active in constructing a sustainable new trail that will not flood on the side of the bluff paralleling the river. The Estabrook Park segment was completed in 2015. In 2018 the trail was extended by going under the Port Washington Road bridge and the I-43 bridge. It continues along the river in Lincoln Park to the bridge that crosses the river on Hampton Avenue. Access to the trail in Estabrook and the river is provided by a number of stairwells which are undergoing repair under FOE sponsorship as well. It is anticipated that the completion of all restoration of these stairwells will occur in 2019.