KAUKAUNA — A new 1.3-mile Kaukauna Interpretive Trail opens this spring and will bring hikers and bikers within view of all five Kaukauna Locks and links to the settlement-era Charles A. Grignon Mansion.
People are often surprised to learn the drop in the Fox River’s elevation between Lake Winnebago and the river’s mouth in Green Bay is about equal to the height of Niagara Falls. The largest portion of that drop – more than 50 feet – is contained within the five locks in Kaukauna.
Visitors will soon be able to access information about the locks in the Kaukauna area while taking a leisurely stroll. The new 1.3-mile Kaukauna Interpretive Trail will bring hikers and bikers within view of all five Kaukauna Locks and links to the settlement-era Grignon Mansion. Way-finding signs will communicate information and lore about the world’s only working, hand-operated lock system.
A $300,000 grant from the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region made the trail project possible.
The fund also was a major backer of the Nelson Family Heritage Crossing that opened in June of 2021.
The trail stretches along the north bank of the Fox River from the dam near Wisconsin Avenue and Lawe Street to Kaukauna Lock 5 near the end of Augustine Street. It will feature a close-up look at how the locks operate and a chance to chat with the lock tenders. The trail also will pass one of two railroad swing bridges built in 1901 and still in use.
Construction of the Kaukauna Interpretive Trail started in 2021 on land owned by the Fox River Locks System Authority, as the restoration of the five Kaukauna locks was being completed. The trail is to open this spring. The Kaukauna Locks, part of the 17-lock system, were built in the 1850s.