10Best: Madison WI Super for Cyclists with Hills, Lakes

Red-tailed hawk sightings just one of of many of nature's beauties along the bike trails


John Nolen Bike Path stretches along Lake Monona to Olin Park and connects to the Capitol City trail — Photo courtesy of Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau

Madison, Wisconsin’s biking scene is pretty active among children and adults alike, even during the colder months.

In town, Lake Monona’s bike path has cyclists winding 13 miles around the Lake and through beautiful Madison neighborhoods. The path takes about an hour and a half to two hours, depending on one’s speed, and is well marked and an easy ride with a few small hills. Since the route is in the city, it’s easy to jump on and off the route to make it shorter, too.

Cyclists young and old bike along State Street near the Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin — Photo courtesy of Greater Madison Convention & Visitors BureauUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison’s Arboretum includes a scenic route looping around Lake Wingra through Vilas Park and Nakoma. It's not odd for cyclists to see red-tailed hawks or bald eagles throughout the preserved land.

For those who enjoy longer distances, Badger State Trail offers 40 miles between Madison and the Wisconsin-Illinois border and the trail traverses farmlands, rolling hills and several small towns. Among the highlights is the restored awe-inspiring 1,200 foot-long Stewart Tunnel constructed in 1887. Because of a slight bend in the tunnel, cyclists are advised to bring a bright flashlight because they will gaze into total darkness.

Mountain bikers may want to trek 25 miles west of Madison via US Highway 18/151 to Blue Mound State Park. Perched atop the highest point in southern Wisconsin, the hilly, 12-mile route has off-road trails that lead to a breathtaking, panoramic view that makes the route worth the challenge.

There are so many more biking and hiking trails to explore within and close to Madison; hopefully these encourage cyclists to put on their helmets and go exploring.

About Megy Karydes

Megy Karydes is a freelance writer and a Chicago expert for 10Best. She has run along the perimeter of Lake Monona but looks forward to bringing her family's bikes on their next trip to Madison to ride its many scenic trails. She just needs to make sure her son doesn't break his neck staring at the sky to find a red-tailed hawk.

Read more about Megy Karydes here.

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