Loop the Little Lake, often referred to as the “Loop,” is a 3.5 mile route that links three (3) communities (Village of Fox Crossing, City of Menasha and City of Neenah) while creating connections for bicycle commuting/recreation and pedestrian recreation with scenic vistas and access to Little Lake Butte des Morts. The route combines off-road bike/pedestrian trails, FOUR (4) trestles of various lengths and on-road bike lanes / sidewalk sections. Along the way, visitors will experience four (4) developed parks with restrooms and 1 undeveloped park.
Each trestle crossing is unique. Crossing the Fox Cities Trestle (approx. 1,600’) provides views of the entire lake including the 441 bridge, paper mills, open space, and residential development along the shores; the Slough Trestle (approx. 150’) allows for views of native shoreline with blue herons, egrets, osprey, and a slow moving body of water that is influenced by the lake level; the Neenah Trestle (approx. 740’) sits in the shadows of the Plexus World Headquarters building with views of Downtown Neenah and undeveloped Arrowhead Park; coming full circle, visitors will encounter the Menasha Trestle (approx. 725’) with views of James Island, the Fox Cities Trestle bird life, sunsets and rushing water under the trestle.
The entire route started with a dream to connect the City of Menasha to the then Town of Menasha in the early 1990’s via a railroad trestle that crossed the lake. After 10 years of developing relationships, raising funds and writing grants the conversion of the former railroad trestle became a reality! Once completed the entire .8 mile trail connected Broad Street in Menasha to Fritse Park in the Town of Menasha (now Fox Crossing) providing a bike and pedestrian crossing over Little Lake Butte des Morts with a lift bridge over the Menasha locks. Over 300,000 visitor counts were registered during the first year of operation. The Fox Cities Trestle has become a bicycling commuter’s dream connecting east to west while encouraging recreation opportunities and most importantly, connecting people.
Because of the popularity of the Fox Cities Trestle, Fritse Park was fully redeveloped to include a trailhead building with restrooms. In the Town of Menasha (Fox Crossing) the reconstruction of North Lake included a 10’ wide, off-road trail leading southbound towards the City of Neenah. Due to right-of-way road restrictions, a small portion of the route requires on-road bike lanes and sidewalk connections.
The City of Neenah’s portion of the Loop the Little Lake route began with the acquisition of the property now known as Herb and Dolly Smith Park in 2006. Over the course of six (6) years, the acquisition was finalized and grants were written to develop the 2.5 acre park, including the 10’ wide off-road bike and pedestrian trail with supporting structures. During this same time frame, a vision for the development of Arrowhead Park including a 1,900’ linear trail that would parallel the southern shore of Little Lake Butte des Morts became part of the overall loop.
Realizing that 75% of the Loop was already completed, the dream to close the Loop began in 2012. After several years of study and conceptual designs, the Common Councils from both Menasha and Neenah agreed to move forward with construction of two additional trestles that would help to complete what is now known as “Loop the Little Lake.” With additional design/engineering, grant writing and fundraising completed, construction of the two trestles began in November 2017 with completion in spring of 2018. The Neenah Trestle and Menasha are connected via on-road bike facilities and sidewalks leading to an off-road trail along the lake shore and Shepard Park. Where guests will cross the road leading to the Menasha Trestle.
Fox Cities Trestle
Menasha Locks (Menasha)
Miron Lift Bridge (Menasha)