A Historic Trail Through the Midwest’s Best Backyards: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

A Frank Lloyd Wright inspired house sits in the trees along Lake Geneva’s scenic trail.

Lake Geneva is known, among other things, as “the Newport of the Midwest.” So it should come as no surprise that, like Newport, its historic summer mansions left by the 19th century’s elite are balanced by a public walking trail that encircles the entire lake. Much like Newport’s Cliff Walk, the trail primarily skirts backyards of such mansions as Green Gables, one of six lake-front properties owned by the Wrigley family. Lake Geneva has even been the summer home of Rockefellers.

The trail has its roots in the paths used by the Potawatomi tribe. Long before the arrival of European settlers, the tribe used footpaths and canoe to get between several small villages along the lake’s shores. The Potawatomi tribe was forcefully removed in 1836 and sent to reservations in Kansas. The trail remained.

Today the trail is a rare treat: a chance for anyone to stroll the lakeshore, appreciating both the scenic beauty of the lake and the historic houses.

Do you know of similar trails that allow public access through backyards in scenic places? I’d love to hear about them!

Sources and Further Reading:

Similar walks can be found in both Newport and ‘Sconset, which I wrote about here:

Get a glimpse of some the estates here.

The Wrigley family has owned several Lake Geneva estates; get a look inside Hillcroft here.

Interesting: take a look at all the Wrigley properties in this WSJ article.

Notes on the trail’s history from this Journal Sentinel article.


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