Finding great, scenic dog walking routes in Madison is something we’re always sniffing around for. While Sherlock’s nose is to the ground (searching for squirrel clues, of course!), it’s a treat for parents to take in such sights as unique architecture, local history, or beautiful natural landscapes. Our paws have done some walkin’, so we’ve compiled a list of our favorite routes across town for you and your pups to check out!
- Picnic Point:
Picnic Point, a nearly mile-long peninsula along Lake Mendota’s south shore, is among Madison’s most distinctive features and is probably the most popular destination in the Preserve. Each year thousands of students and Madisonians visit the Point for outings. In a hectic world of university life or city living, it’s nice to know that this natural area is just a short distance from where you live.
- Vilas Park:
One of Madison’s oldest parks, Vilas Park, curves along the northern shore of Lake Wingra, offering a sandy beach for summer swims and numerous fishing sites, including two accessible piers. This expansive park is a great place to walk, pausing on one of the beautiful arched bridges to watch for blue herons and other wildlife that thrives in this urban green space. Vilas Park also has a bike path.
- Heritage Sanctuary:
At peak trillium bloom in mid-May, Heritage Sanctuary is unequaled. Under an oak forest canopy lies a wildflower carpet more typical of a maple forest. The winding trail takes you through this unusual woodland community.
- Owen Conservation: – Update March 14, 2021: Dogs no longer allowed.
On a hilltop overlooking Madison’s west side, Owen Conservation Park was the farm and personal retreat of former University Professor Edward T. Owen. Today, prairies and oak savannas have risen like a phoenix to reclaim the landscape. Coneflowers, goldenrod, and bluestem are among the many plants that yield a harvest of ever-changing color and texture throughout the year. Please note, we have received word from a blog reader that Owen Conservation Park no longer allows dogs.
- Hoyt Park:
Quiet, and slightly removed from the congested thoroughfare of Madison traffic, Hoyt Park is an ideal location for either a substantial, social gathering or a peaceful stroll through forest and prairie habitat. Truly, there is something for everyone to value. The naturalist will enjoy the lush mix of young, and old growth vegetation that is laced by a network of paved and unpaved hiking trails.
Owen Conservation Park does not allow dogs. Very disappointed to drive over here based on this list and find this out. Please correct!
Hi Kathryn, I’m sorry to hear this. This list was originally written in May of 2013. I guess things have changed at Owen Conservation Park. Thank you for letting us know. I am updating the post to reflect this new information.
FYI – Heritage Sanctuary does not allow dogs