Biking In Madison

March 29th, 2012


If you're not one of the hardy souls who bikes year-round in our beautiful city, then it's time to dust off your bike and hit the roads (not literally, mind you.) As one of the oft-cited best places for cyclists in the US (including nods from both Bicycle and Outside magazines), Madison is rife with biking trails and shops. So grab your helmet and take advantage of the many, many miles of biking trails that wind throughout our fair town.

If you don't have a bike of your own, you can rent from both Williamson Bicycle Works (aka Willy St Bikes now found on W. Washington) and Budget Bicycle Center. Or, you can sign up for the B-Cycle program (either an annual $65 membership or a 24-hour rental for $5) and tool around town lock-free with one of the provided bikes. There are several B-Cycle stations on the Isthmus (see the map below) and it's a lot cheaper than parking! The City of Madison has a website with up-to-date info on all thing bike related in Madison: http://www.cityofmadison.com/bikemadison/

And here's a link to a list of Madison bike shops: http://www.wnbr.org/bikeshops.htm

The Greater Madison Convention & Visitor's Bureau provides these helpful links in their visitor's guide:


Lake Monona: An easy, two hour ride around Lake Monona, going through B. B. Clarke Park and Olbrich Botanical Gardens. 
UW Arboretum: Scenic route looping around Lake Wingra through Vilas Park and Nakoma. 
UW Madison Campus: Running along the shores of Lake Mendota, past the Memorial Union to the Picnic Point area.

>>>The City of Madison and offers numerous resources for biking and walking in Madison including the City of Madison and the Dane County bike maps.


  • The Southern Unit Kettle Moraine State Forest is said to have some of the best mountain bike trails in the country! This trail system offers 5 different loops each varying in length and difficulty. The red loop is a short beginner level loop through open fields, scattered pines, and hardwoods. The blue loop consists of tight singletrack and steep rocky hills designed to test physical strength and riding ability.  In contrast to the technical difficulty of Blue Mound this is the place to crank up the RPM's and carry some speed. Check out the trail maps to see which one is right for you and don't forget to buy your trail pass before you go! >>>For those who are taking the Southern Kettle Moraine trails for the first time The Wisconsin Off-Road Bicycling  Association has put together some helpful pointers. 
  • The Blue Mound State Park offers 12 miles of trail for enthusiasts willing to take the challenge. The DNR ranked this the best mountain biking trail in wisconsin in 2007 and 2008. Blue Mound State Park offers spectacular views of the dolomite and chert outcroppings and challenges cyclist's bike handling skills. 
  • The Devil's Lake Uplands Loop trail is a connector trail which provides about 8 total miles of bike trail. The Loop is generally a medium effort trail that is long, winding and grassy with variable grades through open fields, deep brush and woods. The Most scenic views are from the top of the East Bluff Trail on the south end. 
  • Quarry Ridge is a free park located just 5 min from downtown Madison in Fitchburg, WI.  Quarry Ridge features only two miles of trail but is unique in the opportunity it provides. 
  • Badger Prairie Park* is popular among cyclo-cross riders and is ideal  if you're interested in getting into mountain biking, but aren't sure what you are ready for.  It is located in Verona, just 15 minutes from Madison. 
  • Cam-Rock Park* is 25 minutes from Madison, located between Rockdale, WI and Cambridge, WI along the Koshkonong Creek. These 6 miles of trail features some of the most technical singletrack in the area lives on Cam-Rock 3s expert loop.

*Permits are required at Cam-Rock County Park and Badger Prairie County Park and can be purchased at the parks or on-line at www.reservedane.com/permits.


  • The Capital City Trail is an asphalt trail that connects with the Military Ridge State Trail and with Madison's Southwest Path, part of Badger State Trail that eventually will go to the Illinois border. Nine miles of it go through the scenic Capital Springs State Recreation Area. There is a $4 fee for biking the trail, taken by an honor system at a station at the end of the trail. 
  • Military Ridge State Trail is 40-mile packed dirt trail that connects Madison to Dodgeville, by way of the communities of Ridgeway, Barneveld, Blue Mounds, Mount Horeb, Riley, Klevenville, and Verona. 
  • Glacial Drumline State Trail stretches for 52 miles through farmlands and glacial topography. The trail travels through 10 small towns from Cottage Grove to Waukesha. The trail is on an abandoned rail corridor, except for a 1.5-mile section northeast of Jefferson, between State Highway 26 and County Highway Y, which uses public roads as the trail route. The smooth surface of the trail is crushed packed limestone until 13 miles from Waukesha where it becomes asphalt.
  • Sugar River State Trail is a 23 mile recreation trail surfaced with limestone suitable for bicycling, walking and snowmobiling. A one-mile stretch in New Glarus is blacktopped and suitable for in-line skating.
  • Badger State Trail is a 40-mile trail from Madison to the Illinois State line that connects to the Capital City , Military Ridge, and Sugar River state trails; Madison bikeway system; Capital Springs and New Glarus Woods state parks; Albany State Wildlife Area; Ice Age National Scenic Trail; 13 communities in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois; and numerous local parks.
  • The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a National Scenic Trail located entirely within Wisconsin from Interstate State Park on the Minnesota border to Potawatomi State Park on Lake Michigan, the Ice Age Trail winds for more than 1,000 miles, following the edge of the last continental glacier in Wisconsin.
  • Devil's Lake has over 29 miles of hiking trails that vary in skill level. There is a 1-mile interpretive nature trail and 1.5 miles of trail that are accessible for people with disabilities.

Happy biking! 

(On your left!)