Autumn is in its full glory in southern Wisconsin, and that means it’s an incredible time to lace up your sneakers and take in the fall color. Whether you’re out for a leisurely stroll or looking for a heart-pounding jog, here are two spots you won’t want to miss this season.
Near the city center, at 2390 Chapel Valley Rd., is nearly 60 acres of beautiful green space called McKee Farms Park. Here you’ll find a dog-friendly bike/pedestrian path over a mile long and ablaze in fall color, passing by four ponds and two waterways (complete with frogs, turtles and sandhill cranes). It will even lead you to “Bike the ‘Burg Bucky,” a larger-than-life statue of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s mascot, Bucky Badger, decked out in a helmet, bike shorts and a jersey depicting scenes from Fitchburg’s bike trails. Dotted with plenty of benches, the path also passes by three play areas, including the huge, castle-themed Kids Crossing Dream Park, complete with towers, swings, slides, climbing walls, rope ladders and a special area for toddlers.
Capital City State Trail
The Capital City State Trail is a great place to get your blood pumping with a fall jog. A total of 17 miles long, this paved asphalt trail meanders from Fitchburg through downtown Madison and east of the city. Wildly popular since its inception in 2000, users of the dog-friendly Cap City Trail can experience forest and prairie landscapes, marshes, creeks, lakes and breathtaking views of Madison and the state Capitol surrounded by a spectacular fall scene. Walk or jog far enough and you’ll encounter a zoo, the UW-Madison Arboretum and Olbrich Botanical Gardens.
A large portion of the trail was recently restored; however, two miles of the trail are currently closed between Fish Hatchery Road and Seminole Highway for resurfacing. The section will reopen in November and include a new bridge and improved wayfinding signs. Once the restoration is complete, users can find parking near the western endpoint of the trail in Fitchburg at the Dawley Conservancy. Until then, users can pick up the path at the DNR Service Center at 3911 Fish Hatchery Road. Trail passes are not required for pedestrians.