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5 Essential Fall Hiking Spots

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.


Key

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Devil's Lake State Park

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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.

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Wisconsin State Park System vehicle admission sticker ($13 – $16/day)

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East Bluff Trail (1.5 to 3.5 hours)



UW-Madison Arboretum

(aka "The Arb")

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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.

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Free!

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Curtis Prairie

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Tree canopies along the main path. You'll feel like you're walking through a secret forest.



Pheasant Branch Conservancy

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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.

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Free!

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Scenic Main Loop (3.2 miles)

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Top of Frederick's Hill



Governor Nelson State Park

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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.

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Wisconsin State Park System vehicle admission sticker ($8–$11/day)

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Woodland Trail (1 mile; effigy mounds)

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Lakeside, with the downtown Madison skyline in the background



Picnic Point

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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.

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Free!

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Out and back on the main path (1.5 miles)

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Madison skyline from the benches at the point