Top 10 Trails To Try in Madison
What makes Madison special? It's one of the most bikeable cities in the world (along with so many other things, of course). More than 200 miles of biking and hiking trails are in and around Madison. Here are 10 and why you should try them all.
1. LAKE MONONA LOOP
This may be one of Madison’s most famous routes, particularly the stretch along John Nolen drive between the expansive Olin Park and our city's lakefront architectural gem, Monona Terrace.
Tip: If you go counter-clockwise around the lake, around mile seven, in a quiet neighborhood, you’ll discover the Monona Bait & Ice Cream store (or simply, The Bait Shop, as it's lovingly referred to by locals). Need we say more?
2. UW-MADISON ARBORETUM TRAILS
You can access the Arboretum Trails via multiple access points, many of them in neighborhoods such as Monroe Street, Seminole, Fitchburg and on the UW-Madison campus.
Tip: The foliage is phenomenal, especially the spring wildflowers. Geraniums, blue phlox and emerging ferns.
3. RIDE AN URBAN ROUTE
Didn’t bring a bike? Looking for more city-like scenery? Borrow from Madison's e-bike collection -- rent a BCycle.
If you’re looking for routes that keep you near a drop-off station, the City of Madison Bike Map & Guide combines popular routes and BCycle Station locations.
Tip: You can pick up and drop off at any access point depending on where you wander.
4. UW-MADISON LAKESHORE PATH
Another one of Madison’s most famous — this time around Lake Mendota. The Lakeshore Path starts in the heart of downtown at theUW-Madison Memorial Union and winds through the west end of campus through wooded and prairie areas.
Tip: The prize for your exercise is ending up at Picnic Point, Madison’s popular and picturesque peninsula. Though you can’t bike to the tip, you can trade your tires for tennies and do some hiking or contemplative strolling.
5. RIDE QUARRY RIDGE
Mountain biking is big in Madison and the Quarry Ridge Trail System offers more than three miles of off-road mountain biking trails. Plus, it provides direct access to the Military Ridge and Capital City State Trails.
Tip: Trails range from “easy” to “advanced." They're a great way to get started and grow your skills.
6. BIKE TO THE BORDER
The Badger State Trail stretches 40 miles between Madison and the Wisconsin-Illinois border. Along the way, you’ll traverse farmlands, woods, meadows, prairies, ravines, glacial topography and small communities.
Tip: A highlight of this trail is the 1,200-foot long Stewart Tunnel that is built on a curve. Flashlights and jackets are recommended!
7. TOUR DE TALIESIN
Delight in the Driftless direction by biking in Spring Green. The Taliesin Loop treats you to stunning nature and architectural mastery, while Spring Green offers glorious views and tourist attractions that are well worth the hilly climbs.
Tip: Taliesin, American Players Theatre and House on the Rock. Three amazing attractions.
8. IRONMAN® 70.3 ROUTE
Madison’s newest triathlon features a 56-mile bike route that begins at Olin Park, runs through the endless rolling hills of Dane County and back to the shores of Lake Monona for the half-marathon.
Tip: Get a head start on your training. This natural course is available all year round.
9. PICK THE PARENT PATH
Hook up your Burley or pack the bike rack and try one of our community trails. As an example, Middleton (on Madison's west side) is home to 15 different trails and conservancies including Pheasant Branch, Tiedeman Pond and Bock Forest.
Tip: It’s a family-friendly way to spend a day.
10. IRONMAN® DOUBLE-LOOP
The IRONMAN WISCONSIN bike route has been ridden for nearly 15 years by athletes who've earned the title of IRONMAN (or woman). It is well-documented that Greater Madison’s 112-mile course is renowned among athletes, largely due to the scenic urban/rural mix of challenging terrain and the 30,000 cheering fans who line the course on race day.
Tip: What's satisfying about this particular ride? You can repeat to yourself, “I. Am. An. IRONMAN!”
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