My Favorite Runs in Wisconsin. I’m obviously missing a million great runs here and it’s a little Madison-centric, so please send your runs in. I favor traffic-free, multi-use paths as they do a great job of cleaning them in Madison. I prefer to stay off of pavement, but the opportunities are limited in Wisconsin winters.
My Top Madison, WI Running Routes
Madison Arboretum: My, and most other Madison runners, favorite route in Madison. The actual Arb route is about a 10k. When the snow is gone–or if you’re more hardcore than me–you can add miles and miles of great trails.
Tenney Lock Loop: 6.4 miles. Great little loop takes you along Lake Mendota to Tenney Park, across the isthmus to the Capital City Trail, along Lake Monona to the SW Commuter Path, and back into campus.
Lake Monona Loop: 12-13 miles. Loop around Lake Monona. It’s mostly through quiet neighborhood streets and can be really pleasant. I like this run on the weekends, although I do tend to favor the arb.
Lakeshore Path and Picnic Point: Runs along Lake Mendota. On picnic point, you can follow the trails along the lake to add on another mile or two of easy pleasant trail running. You can also continue this run and go through the hilly, but pretty Shorewood Hills, abutting Lake Mendota.
Southwest Commuter Path: Long multi-use path cutting through the heart of campus extending to southwest madison. It also meets up with the Capitol City Trail eventually. I generally do out and back runs on this and really enjoy it. There’s an almost imperceptible elevation gain heading out of campus, so you’re usually flying when you return.
Capitol City Trail: Great Dane County Rail to Trail option. You can meet up with it downtown, out in the burbs, on the east side. Wherever you need it.
Southeast Wisconsin Running Routes
I’m from the town of Slinger, but generally run on the road in the country when i’m there. Here are a few options anyway.
Glacial Drumlin Trail: Great rail-to-trail path–either paved or crushed gravel, running from Waukesha to Madison(almost). 50 miles.
Kettle Moraine Forest: Runs from Whitewater area to near Kewaskum, covering around 100 miles. It’s hilly, and partitioned into several sections. I’ve actually only biked there, but it’s beautiful.
Ice Age Trail: Cuts across the state. Fantastic Trail Running.
Lakefront Milwaukee: The link takes you to a 20 miler-partly along the lake. My experience is that just running along the lakefront and the Milwaukee River–which has some fantastic paths, is great.
Door County & Peninsula State Park: If you’re in Door County, Peninsula State Park provides miles and miles of amazing trails. You can go easy and flat along the Sunset Trail, or tackle some of the other, more challenging loops. For numerous reasons, Door County is my favorite place to run(and relax) in Wisconsin.
Elroy-Sparta Trail: I actually never have run on this, but would imagine it’s great if you’re in the area. We use to take family bike trips here as a kid. It’s 32 miles between Elroy and Sparta.
La Crosee River State Trail: Connects to the Elroy-Starta Trail and the Great River State Trail, along with various other forests and parks. 21.5 miles long.