The Alpha Trail Loop is one of the more recently reworked trails in Milwaukee, so it might be more appropriate to call it the Alpha Trail Loop 2.0. The original trail had a fast, flowy upper section, while the lower section tended to have sharper corners that could sneak up on you. This was made harder by the trees that obstructed your view of the trail. With the reworking, it’s still quite flowy, but the corners are much easier to go through. Overall it’s still a moderately challenging piece of singletrack that makes for a great after-work ride.
The Alpha Trail Loop has the main trailhead at the Rock Sports Complex on 7900 W. Crystal Ridge Drive, Franklin, Wisconsin. If you’re in Franklin, head northeast on Loomis Rd, then exit west onto Rawson Avenue. Turn north onto Crystal Ridge Rd and then turn east at the intersection between Crystal Ridge Rd and Ballpark Dr.
After that, turn northwest/left at the next intersection and go past the roundabout just up ahead. This road should take you to the Rock Sports Complex parking area. Once you’ve sorted out your parking situation and gotten your gear, the trailhead should be at the west end of the parking lot.
You’ll cross a small wooden bridge at the beginning; from there, it’s just singletrack. Most of the trail is fast, flowy, and technical since you must watch out for the trees, especially if you’re riding at speed.
It technically doesn’t qualify as flat, but the climbs are moderate and mostly doable. The trail was improved by both Milwaukee County Parks alongside Metro Mountain Bikers. It’s short enough for a quick ride after work, and the fact that it closes at 10 PM means night riding is allowed. However, a bike headlight will be necessary to make it through the trees.
There should be a second trailhead near the parking lot at Whitnall Park Dr. You can use the restrooms at the Whitnall Golf Clubhouse if you need to, or you can wait until you get back to The Rock Sports Complex. The trail is only 2.8 miles long, and you’re more than halfway through when you go past the Whitnall Park Dr parking lot, so it shouldn’t be a long wait.
Part of the trail snakes along the Root River, with some sections having poor drainage. As such, they may still be wet a few days after a downpour. However, if you don’t mind a bit of mud, you can still ride through there if the trail is open. You’ll also go through a creek crossing or two on the Alpha Trail Loop.
It’s worth noting that the trail is sometimes closed for special events or when wet.
We believe fall is a great time to visit the trail due to the vivid colors and leaves on the ground, which make for some beautiful views. Summer and spring aren’t too bad either, with the trail typically full of greenery.
You’re supposed to ride counterclockwise so you don’t crash into somebody, but we noticed that some riders don’t know that and ride it the other way around.
The whole trail is picturesque, especially when there are leaves on the trail. You can also see views of the Root River and stop at the Whitnall Park Golf Course while in the area.
Recommendations and Precautions