Hiking in Madison, Wisconsin is magical year-round, but there's something extra special about those fall colors on a cool, crisp morning. These hiking spots are perfect for taking in the views. Grab your water bottle and a flannel, it's fall y'all.
1. UW Madison Arboretum
This nature wonderland, amidst restored prairies, savannas, woodlands and wetlands, is home to 17 miles of easy trails of various lengths. The popular paved 6.2-mile loop is the perfect 10K training route and runs through a gorgeous tree-lined path, adjacent to Lake Wingra.
Pro Tip: While The Arb is free to access, no pets are allowed. Make sure to check out their Visitor Center, where you'll find restrooms and drinking fountains, murals, a public browsing library, a bookstore and more.
2. Picnic Point
Take a nature break on the UW-Madison campus with a hike on this iconic peninsula along Lake Mendota's south shore. Stop for a drink at the bubbler at the tip of Picnic Point, and touch the official mile marker as you prepare for the return trip.
Pro Tip: Furry friends welcome on this free hiking trail. If you want to rest and take in views along the way, you'll find benches with spectacular views lining the trail.
3. Blue Mound State Park
There are fall colors aplenty at Blue Mound State Park, located just 30 miles from downtown Madison. As the highest point in southern Wisconsin, Blue Mound offers spectacular views, especially at the top of the lookout towers.
Pro Tip: A Wisconsin State Park System vehicle admission sticker is required ($8–$11/day). Pets are allowed, and there are great spots for picnics throughout the park.
4. Pheasant Branch Conservatory
Escape the sights and sounds of the city at this oasis just eight miles from Downtown Madison. Walk, run or bike through 160 acres of meadows, forest and hills.
Pro Tip: Pheasant Branch is free to the public, and pets are allowed, but make sure they stay leashed at all times so wildlife isn't disturbed.
5. Governor Nelson State Park
Stroll through this serene, waterfront state park (named after the founder of Earth Day), within sight of the State Capitol. The short trails, playground and picnic areas make for a perfect, low-key family day.
Pro Tip: Just like at Blue Mound, a state park pass is required for entry!
Bonus: Devil's Lake State Park
Located just an hour away in Baraboo, Wisconsin, Devil's Lake is a popular hiking spot for many hoping to take in the fall foliage. With 500-foot-high quartzite bluffs and 41 miles of hiking trails, Devil’s Lake State Park makes for the perfect day trip — whether you’re looking for a chill stroll or seeking adventure. When you’re hiked out, relax and enjoy a picnic overlooking the lake, followed by a visit to the nature center*.
Pro Tip: As a state park, a park pass is required for entry.