How to salvage a field trip: Exploring Muskego Park and Park Arthur

According to the Waukesha County “Dog Rules Swim Areas” website, Muskego Park is one of the places where dogs can swim in the lake in the same spot as their owners, as long as it’s before 11 am. Like other bulldogs, Gjalla is not the best swimmer, so this co-swimming option is preferable to the “designated dog swim” areas where only the dogs can go in the water.

Since my Third Trimester of pregnancy has given me the superpower to wake up at 5 am ready-to-go, Gjalla and I got a very early start on our grand adventure to Muskego Park. We arrived before the crowds and the heat waves, around 6:30 am. We were both ready to leave about 10 minutes later.

What a bust.

I should have suspected from the size of the water shown on Google Maps that the beach at Muskego Park would be mossy and murky. In my limited (but ever-growing) experience as a new Wisconsin-ite, the smaller lakes seem less likely to be suitable for swimming. My hypothesis is these little lakes don’t have enough water circulating, so it becomes a stagnant mess.

There are similar problems in certain parts of Southern California. Compared to Huntington Beach, Long Beach has sections where the shoreline faces the south instead of the west, which means smaller waves and more accumulated trash floating in the water.

Not All So Cal Beaches Point West
Not all Southern California beaches point West

“Adventure” is not synonymous with “good time” – that’s not the point of an adventure

Undaunted by the state of Muskego Park’s lake, I was determined to keep the adventure going and find another place nearby to explore. I did not drive 30 minutes just to visit one place for 5 minutes and go home.

The challenge with small lakes is the water can be murky and uninviting. On the contrary, the challenge with big lakes is it’s difficult to find a public beach from which to enjoy the water. This problem isn’t limited to lakes in Wisconsin – I also had this issue during a visit to Malibu. Malibu Beach is supposedly one of the most beautiful beaches in California. However, with all the mansions and private properly lining the coast, it’s no easy feat getting close enough to put your toes in the sand.

In Muskego, the city, there are two big lakes: Muskego Lake and Little Muskego Lake. These lakes are not to be confused with the water in Muskego Park, which doesn’t appear to have a name.  A Google Search and some Google Maps zoom-and-scroll work revealed a public beach to Little Muskego Lake named Idle Isle. Thus, with our new heading, Gjalla and I set off on the second part of our adventure.

Eight minutes later we arrived at Idle Isle. I didn’t even bother to stop the car. There were giant NO DOGS ALLOWED signs everywhere. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve ignored a sign like this, but when there are THAT MANY of them, I have to concede.

You get only three strikes in baseball. On an exploratory adventure, you get more chances.

Undeterred, I pulled up Google Maps yet again. I was determined to find a third place to explore before returning home. As luck would have it, directly across from Idle Isle was the Idle Isle overflow parking, which was connected to a park named “Park Arthur”. Park Arthur would be the gold mine Gjalla and I struck after two strikes in Muskego.

Exploring Park Arthur

Gjalla and I spent almost an hour exploring Park Arthur. It was a clean, open park with ample seating, shade, and clean restrooms. We explored the paths guiding us through and around the park until we found a sledding hill.

You don’t see sledding hills too often in So Cal. Seeing them in Wisconsin always makes me smile. 

Even in August, the trek up the sledding hill was lovely because of all the colorful flowers (or are they weeds? See previous post). Gjalla ate a few plants on our way up the hill but didn’t need any pushing, pulling, or coaxing to get to the top. When we reached the apex of the hill, we soaked in the views and I smiled at the success of our adventure, finally ready to return home.

I made sure to leave a nice review on my way out:

My trip to Idle Isle would have been a complete bust if it weren’t for Park Arthur. Unlike Idle Isle, dogs are welcome here. This is a big, clean park with lots of paved (wheelchair and stroller friendly) paths around the park. There are clean restrooms that were open even at 7 am. The park has plenty of nice grassy patches where one can enjoy the weather, and there are also plenty of benches around (some under the sun, some in the shade). There are two big parking lots, which is great because, based on the number of softball fields here, these lots may be just barely big enough. There’s even an archery field here – I haven’t seen that at too many other parks. There’s also a sledding hill, which is a pleasant trek up even in August because of all the pretty flowers. – Google Maps review

Park Arthur


I hope your adventures give you good stories to share – whether it’s good times or bad. Everything is an adventure, and this mindset can make the difference between a bad day and a good story.

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