These Madison-area hiking spots are perfect for soaking up all the fall colors. Use our key to pick your favorite — and get there before the leaves fall.
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*.
* The nature center is currently closed to the public.
Wisconsin State Park System vehicle admission sticker ($13 – $16/day)
East Bluff Trail (1.5 to 3.5 hours)
* For trails with opportunities for great social distancing, head just outside of the park to explore Steinke Basin Loop, Grottos Trail or Roznos Meadow.
(aka "The Arb")
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.
Tree canopies along the main path. You'll feel like you're walking through a secret forest.
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.
Scenic Main Loop (3.2 miles)
Top of Frederick's Hill
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.
Wisconsin State Park System vehicle admission sticker ($8–$11/day)
Woodland Trail (1 mile; effigy mounds)
Lakeside, with the downtown Madison skyline in the background
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.
Out and back on the main path (1.5 miles)
Madison skyline from the benches at the point