The Milwaukee river watershed has seen considerable habitat improvement in recent decades. A great area to enjoy the fruits of this work runs through Riverside Park in West Bend. The current beauty of the area sparks the imagination of what is possible within the limits of a city.
This park was once under water. The River Road access point tells the story of the Woolen Mills dam which once harnessed the river for power. The area behind the dam formed the West Bend Mill Pond, a 67 acre lake within the city. By the 1970s the Mill Pond was obsolete as a power source and had turned into a turbid, stagnant pool with poor water quality and wildlife habitat. In 1988 the dam was removed allowing the river to flow freely. Within a decade the free flow of the river had rehabilitated the environment and according to a 1997 fish study, smallmouth bass replaced carp as the prominent fish over 8 inches in length.
Riverside Park was built in what was the basin of the mill pond. Native grasses with their singing birds now live in areas once covered with silt. The beautiful walking path meanders through the park as part of the West Bend Riverwalk system entering at the Water street access and running through the park to River Road. The walkway features several unique old rail bridges spanning the river proper.
Riverside Park can be accessed from Kilbourn or Indiana Avenues, River Road, or Water Street. The Water Street entrance is a 10 minute walk from downtown West Bend restaurants and shops by taking Water Street east of downtown. Another way to stroll over to the park from downtown is walking down Auxiliary Ct. and hooking up with the Riverwalk Parkway just a short walk south down the river.
In addition to the wonderful walking path, Riverside Park has the typical amenities along with a disk golf course, tennis, sand volleyball courts, baseball diamonds, play equipment, permanent restrooms, and grills.
Riverside Park is only 10 short minutes from Hidden Serenity and is easy and fun to explore. For our guests looking for a mixture of city and relaxing park, this is an excellent choice. Visit downtown shops and the museum and then head over to enjoy a picnic in the park. The Riverwalk is truly a gem in the city.