The Best Running Paths in Madison

Springtime is here! The weather is finally nice and it’s the perfect time to start running outside. Madison is known for its trails and paths that take you all over the city. But who knew there were so many?
Here are some of the best places to run!

The Lakeshore path (Mendota Lakeshore Path): This path is famous throughout the Midwest. It is 19 miles long, beautiful and scenic. You can access the path at the Memorial Union on Langdon Street. There are actually two trail segments that make up the Lakeshore Path: the Howard Temin Path and the Lake Mendota Path. The Howard Temin Path extends from North Park Street (east) to Oxford Road (west). The Lake Mendota Path intersects with the Temin Path at the main gate to Picnic Point. Picnic Point has one of the best views of Madison and the campus and serves as a great turnaround point. It’s a great place for bonfires and springtime dining! From the Union to Picnic Point is 2.25 miles one way and 5 miles round-trip.

Southwest Commuter Bike Path: This paved path is a little luxury to residents in the southeast. It stretches from Lake Monona (the second Madison lake) to Camp Randall. Less scenic than the Lakeshore paths, this path is rich in urban terrain and runs partly next to a Madison railroad line. It stretches 5.6 miles long. You can pick up the trail just behind the Ogg residence hall. When you go underneath the bridge, you’ll see ramps to the left and right. Follow either one up and you will be in the middle of the path! If you wish to start from the beginning, enter south of the intersection of South Bedford St. and North Shore Drive as it branches off from the Brittingham Trail that hugs the west bank of Lake Monona and runs through Brittingham Park. Best part of this path? It leads right to Mickie’s Dairy bar! This town treasure is right next to Camp Randall and is a place everyone should visit before they graduate.

The Second Lakeshore path (Monona Lakeshore Path): More commonly known to the residents of Madison than UW students, this stretches 19.66 miles! This lakeshore path is just as scenic as the Mendota path, but provides another view of Madison. You can reach the path by taking the Southwest Commuter path behind Ogg or from the Monona Terrace. Going west, this path passes along a narrow crossing of Monona Bay originally used by Madison’s railroads. Near John Nolan Drive, auto traffic is nearby, but the path is separated from the road by a concrete barrier.

Wingra Park: This path runs along the city’s West side. The park serves as a gateway to UW Arboretum. Runners can enjoy a pleasant 6-mile loop around Lake Wingra through prairie-like grassland and woods.Usually, you will share the route with few runners, but it is also a hot spot for group runs! This path is located near the Henry Vilas Zoo and other great Madison sights. It’s only six minutes from downtown Madison! Turn right on West Dayton, left on North Park Street, right on Regent Street and then left on Jefferson Street.
If you like to run in groups and want to run throughout the year, think about joining one of the various running groups on campus! The University of Wisconsin Running Club (UWRC) is organized by students and plans runs typically on Wednesdays and Sundays. There’s also the Wisconsin Track Club that coordinates various training groups. Lastly, there is Madison’s Frontrunners/Frontwalkers group.

The one and only State Street: The main artery of campus, filled with dozen of coffee shops, cafes and restaurants, is a great place to run! State Street runs about a half mile from Bascom Hill to Capitol Square. You can start off at Bascom Hill or the Memorial Union. Street musicians and political rallies also spice things up from time to time. Heads up: the traffic will be more crowded. A great time to take this run is during the Saturday Farmers’ Market! One of the largest farmers’ markets in the United States, the Farmers’ Market is home to Madison’s famous cheese breads and apple cider. The market runs from April to Nov. You can make your run longer by heading south a few blocks from Capitol Square along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which brings you to the Monona Terrace and the Monona Lakeshore path.
Here are some just websites to help track your run or look up other people’s runs for more ideas!