Bike Dane highlights county's trails

With not a cloud in the sky and the sun beating down on your shoulders, Madison’s bike trails have a lot to offer its riders, but how often do we actually take time to look at the communities and nature around the trails? On Saturday, the Friends of Capital Spring invite Madisonians and others to the Bike Dane Event. 

“Everyone can come and enjoy the bike trail and then you can stop at different bike adventures that we have set up along the way,” said Rhea Stangel-Maier of the Dane County Parks Department, who is helping to coordinate the event.  

The event is part of National Trails Day, which means that all the trails are free to ride; no state trail pass is required, although they will be sold at the event. The event will take place along Madison’s Capital City Bike Trail near the Lussier Family Heritage Center.

There are three adventures at the event for people to check out. The first is to explore Baxter Park and the Indian Springs. Riders can ride through and learn about the springs in the park where a few natural scientists will be there to provide information about the area and answer questions.

Another adventure riders can participate in is near the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District Wildlife Observation Area, a birding hot spot. Members of the Madison Audubon Society will be there to assist riders and teach them about the birds.

The third adventure available for riders is to spend time with the Madison Area Herpetological Society and learn about snakes, salamanders and other amphibians and reptiles found in parks around Madison.

“Riders should bring their own bikes to the event,” Stangel-Maier said. “Free water and bike trail maps will be available. We hope this event encourages people to learn a little about the animals around the trails and broaden the biking experience.”

The Capital City Bike Trail is one of many bike trails that wind their way through the city and the rest of Dane County. Another historical trail traveling through natural areas is the Southwest Commuter Path.

Take the Southwest Commuter Path about 10 miles southwest from downtown to McKee Road, about an hour ride, and cyclists will be at the head of Ice Age Junction Area. This trail is paved and winds its way south for about two miles. This follows the area where glaciers started to retreat north over 12,000 years ago. 

Closer to downtown is the University of Wisconsin Arboretum. With two entrances, one on South Mills behind the St. Mary’s Hospital and another off of Seminole Highway, it’s easy to get to from any part of town. This paved trail is three miles, but just like the Bike Dane Event, to really appreciate the bike trails, riders have to go off the path.

One area just past the visitors’ center, located in the center of the Arboretum, is the Leopold Pines and Curtis Prairie. Aldo Leopold is known mostly for his conservation work and his book Sand County Almanac, but he spent many years in Madison and at the Arboretum. He helped design the lay out of the Arboretum and was its first research director. The Curtis Prairie is located just next to Leopold Pines near the Seminole Highway entrance and is the world’s oldest restored prairie at 81 years old. There are walking and hiking trails through these natural areas and across the Arboretum.

For more information on bike trails in Dane County please visit,

Bike Dane Flyer.pdf91.41 KB