Holly Recommends…

Best Hiking in and around Dane County, Wisconsin

If you live in or around Madison, you don’t have to go far to enjoy a beautiful, nature-filled hike. Whether you have an hour or a whole afternoon, there are plenty of great options.

Here are my top four recommendation, all within an hour of Madison. Proximity to Madison, natural beauty, views, trails, and overall experience all factor in to their final score. Photos all link to websites outside my own, for more information.

 

Number 4. Pope Farm Conservancy, Madison, Wisconsin

Pope Farm Conservancy, Madison, Wisconsin. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Pope Farm Conservancy, Madison, Wisconsin. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Pope Farm Conservancy. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Pope Farm Conservancy. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Don’t let the description you’ll find online saying Pope Farm Conservancy is in Verona fool you. Pope Farm is on the edge of the far west side of Madison on Old Sauk Road, which gives it many proximity points.

In mid summer, the sunflowers and wild flowers there are breathtaking. Bring your mosquito repellant if you plan to hike through the low forest section of the park. Pope Farm wins the award for the worst mosquitoes I’ve ever experienced in my entire life, but otherwise it’s a great spot to connect with nature.

Number 3. Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area, Lodi, Wisconsin

Hiking at Gibralter Rock, Lodi, Wisconsin. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Hiking at Gibraltar Rock, Lodi, Wisconsin. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Gibraltar Rock. Lodi, Wisconsin. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Gibraltar Rock. Lodi, Wisconsin. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Located just outside Dane County in Columbia County, Gibraltar Rock is a beautiful place for a hike, and offers many great views and photo opportunities.

Number 2. Devil’s Lake State Park, Baraboo, Wisconsin.

Devil's Lake. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Devil’s Lake State Park. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Devil's Lake. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Devil’s Lake State Park. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

This beautiful spot, located in Sauk County, would surely be number one on this list, if it weren’t nearly an hour from downtown Madison.

Number 1. Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Middleton, Wisconsin

Scoring big points in every category, especially proximity, is Pheasant Branch Conservancy. It winds through all of Middleton, and boasts beautiful wild flowers, wooded areas, open areas, a natural springs detour, and more. There are also added perks, like public restrooms open during warmer months, and leashed dogs are allowed.

Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Middleton, Wisconsin. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Middleton, Wisconsin. Photo by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

 

Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Middleton, Wisconsin. Photos by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Middleton, Wisconsin. Photos by Holly Tierney-Bedord. All rights reserved.

Other close contenders:
Indian Lake Park on Highway 19, Cross Plains
Governor Nelson Park, Middleton
Stewart Park, Mount Horeb

Did I miss any of your favorites? Tell me who you recommend!

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This entry was published on May 22, 2015 at 8:19 pm. It’s filed under Dane County, Dane County Hiking, Devil's Lake, Hiking, Indian Lake, Madison, Middleton, Nature, Pheasant Branch, Pheasant Branch Conservancy, Photography, Pope Farm, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

5 thoughts on “Best Hiking in and around Dane County, Wisconsin

  1. Katie on said:

    Great subject and blog, Holly. I need to get to Pheasant Branch Conservancy. It’s right in my backyard and I never take advantage of that. If I were a vacationer, I’d be there for sure. I need to use my weekends more wisely and get there!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We always see deer there. It’s so pretty. I guess you can tell, I skipped the movie 🙂

    Like

  3. Becky on said:

    Holly, if you haven’t yet discovered it, you definitely need to get to Donald Park, near Mt. Vernon (just south of Mt. Horeb). Less than 10 miles from my home, I only first went there last year, and was blown away.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bill on said:

    I want to hike now.

    Liked by 1 person

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