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My 5 Favorite Bike Paths in Madison

Nick Baxter

September 17, 2020

Prior to moving to Madison, the last bike I owned was a Nashville Predators themed bike I won at the age of 9, so it had been a while since I found myself in the saddle. Upon my arrival here, I discovered the city’s rich biking culture as well as its system of paths and knew I had to take advantage of all it had to offer. After a couple of years of riding and exploring, I feel like I know my way around town on a bike pretty decently.

(Big thanks to Jacci Ziebert for creating this subway style path map!)

  1. Capital City State Trail

    This path really just has it all. Forest, rolling hills, lake views, etc. Stretching over 20 miles, the Cap City Trail takes a rider from the Velo UnderRound on the southwest end of town through Fitchburg, on up to Olin Park and along the beautiful stretch of path along John Nolen (my personal favorite), and all the way over the the east side of Lake Monona. This trail does require a state trail pass for certain stretches, but well worth the expense as the pass gives access to many other great rides.

  2. US Highway 12 Path

    This one actually starts in Middleton, but the US Highway 12 Path has become one of my favorites to ride. Sometimes there’s just nothing better than getting out and riding in the outskirts of town, and this 10.9-mile path allows one to do so without the need to navigate some bumpy country roads.

  3. Wingra Creek

    Coming in at 1.9 miles, Wingra Creek Path is the shortest path on my list, but I take it so often that I could not ignore it. I take this path every time I ride to work, and the morning creek views are always a great way to start the day. I recommend taking this path along the entire length of Wingra Creek until you hit Olin Park and get that great view of downtown.


  4. Cannonball Path 

    The Cannonball Path is another I use to get to work, as its bridge over the beltline is right next to our office here at Berndt CPA. At 3.9 miles, the Cannonball path provides a smooth, flat ride and some scenic views as it takes you to the Velo and its access to many other paths.

  5. Southwest Commuter

    I just love this path for its convenience more than anything. The 5.6 mile Southwest Commuter path stretches from the Velo all the way over to Monona Bay. This path is a flat, easy ride with many exit points that can get you almost anywhere on the West Side or downtown.

I must give an honorable mention to the Military Ridge and Badger Trails. If you are seeking a longer ride, I definitely suggest these!

We really are fortunate to live in a city with such a sophisticated system of paths, as well as bike lanes to connect the dots in between. I recommend getting out and enjoying a ride while the warm weather is here. Happy Bike Week, Madison!

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