Get to know Madison by taking in the city from a new perspective – from the trails! Experiencing the city by foot is a great way to explore the area and soak up the fall colors, while enjoying some time outdoors. With over 200 miles of trails in Greater Madison, you are sure to “fall” in love.
Capital City Trail - Lake Monona Loop
Start with the Lake Loop, one of Madison’s most famous routes – particularly the stretch along John Nolen Drive. Walk, bike or run along Lake Monona on the asphalt trail that winds along the lakeshore. Take in a view of the Madison skyline from Olin Park, then head toward the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace. From here, you can make your way along the entire lake, or connect to several trails including the Southwest Commuter Bike Path, the Badger State Trail, Military Ridge Trail and Capital Springs State Recreation Area.
UW-Madison Arboretum Trail
If you want to view phenomenal fall foliage, head to the UW-Madison Arboretum. With 1,200 acres of land, the Arboretum provides a diverse landscape which includes woodlands, wetlands, ponds, restored prairies, gardens – and of course, trees! Walk or bike the scenic route looping Lake Wingra through Vilas Park and Nakoma Golf Club, or explore the more than 20 miles of footpaths and boardwalks. Visitors are free to explore the trails on their own, or join a guided group tour. Afterward, explore the Henry Vilas Zoo or the Monroe Street Neighborhood
UW-Madison Lakeshore Path
Head to the Memorial Union alongside Lake Mendota to pick up another one of Madison’s most famous paths. Developed thousands of years ago by Native Americans, the Lakeshore Path winds through the west end of the UW-Madison campus alongside wooded areas, the lake, marsh and effigy mounds. Extend your walk or run to Picnic Point, Madison’s popular and picturesque peninsula to take in a beautiful view of the skyline. And be sure to tap the plaque reading: “Touch Here for an Official Picnic Point Run.”
Devil’s Lake State Park
Located an hour north of Madison, the beautiful Devil’s Lake State Park provides more than 29 miles of hiking trails that vary in skill level. From climbing rock formations and bluffs, to hiking its wooded paths and winding, grassy trails, there are more than 29 miles of paths in this park alone. There is a one-mile interpretive nature trail and 1.5 miles of trail that are accessible for people with disabilities. The view from the top of the bluffs looking out onto the lake and all the colorful leaves is truly magical.
Pheasant Branch Conservancy
Pheasant Branch Conservancy, located in Middleton Wisconsin, is a 160-acre site that provides a panoramic view of the Capitol, skyline and Lake Mendota. This natural area is home to a variety of terrains including oak savanna, restored prairie, sedge meadow and shrub thicket, woodlands, marsh, fields and forest – making it an excellent place to spot birds, cranes, deer and other animals.
Holy Wisdom Monastery
Tucked along the north side of Lake Mendota, Holy Wisdom Monastery is a place for peaceful retreats and quiet time in nature. Visitors are encouraged to explore the four miles of trails – perfect for a brisk hike or contemplative walk, as well as 130 acres of restored prairie, a glacial lake and apple orchards.
After a day on the trails, refuel with a farm-to-table meal and a good night’s sleep. Head to visitmadison.com to plan your stay!