Best Places to View Fall Foliage in Madison WI (2022)
It’s so easy to fall in love with autumn. Cozy sweaters, crisp mornings, and warm beverages feel indulgent after the hot summer months. Wisconsin is known across the midwest for its long fall season. Tall trees turn yellow, orange, and red behind a backdrop of wide-open blue skies. Their loss of chlorophyll is our gain— our state is an ideal place to see nature’s paintbrush in action. Take a scenic stroll down the Madison streets or dip into nature to take in some of America’s most vibrant colors.
When will the leaves start to change this year? (2022)
As of October 1st, cozy fall weather is greeting us daily but fall foliage is lagging a bit behind. Dark green leafy foliage is starting to turn a glowy shade of light green. Drops of bright yellow can be seen in capitol square.
According to Travel Wisconsin, more and more colors will reveal themselves to us in the next few weeks, before a peak color explosion the week of November 1st.
Click here to view an interactive fall foliage map for the entire state of Wisconsin.
Best Places to View Fall Foliage in Madison WI
We feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of Wisconsin. With Madison’s lakes, forests, and plains you don’t have to travel far to take in a gorgeous fall afternoon. Here are a few places around town where you can feel the full impact of fall:
CamRock County Park
On this 4.9-mile loop trail, you’ll pass over creeks, through dense forests, and over sweeping plains. This is a popular destination for mountain bikers, but bikers and dog walkers are also welcome.
Indian Lake County Park
This is one of Dane County’s largest parks. Recreationists can explore 791 acres of fall colors. You can hike a section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, utilize the dog park, or take in the fall foliage from your kayak.
Upper Yahara River Trail
This trail lives within the Village of DeForest. It’s a 2.7-mile trek into the woods. The entire trail is paved, making it a great option for foliage enthusiasts in wheelchairs or toting strollers.
UW- Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve
Lake Mendota is one of the most beautiful features of our city. The University has preserved 300 acres of Mendota’s southern shore for recreation and preservation. A mix of walking and biking trails make up this section of the shoreline. We love taking grilling supplies out to Picnic Point, and utilizing the fire pits to roast hot dogs and enjoy the views.
View the Nature preserve trail map.
Token Creek County Park
Just north of the city, this spectacular 400-acre park serves the city’s nature enthusiasts. Fall is a popular time at Token Creek for weekend warriors who love camping. Equestrians and hikers populate the trails. Fishermen relax on the waterfront, and frisbee golfers hang out in the fields.
There may not be a better place to check out fall foliage than a registered arboretum. Thousands of different species of plants- a perfect symphony of color. There are 17 miles of trails throughout the arboretum so you can explore until your heart is content!
Feel like traveling? Here are the best places to check out fall foliage in the state.
Nothing gets us more excited about a road trip than a seasonal change. If you’re looking for an adventure, here are the best places to travel for fall foliage:
Seven Bridges Trail, Grand Park Milwaukee
Wind your way through a ravine on Tolkien-esque stone paths and staircases. Enjoy the sound of rushing water from below, and pass beside enormous colorful beech trees until you reach the shores of lake Michigan. This trail is only a mile long but remains one of the best fall hikes in the state.
Holy Hill, Hubertus
The Holy Hill basilica sits on the highest peak in Southeastern Wisconsin. The gothic tower peaks out above colorful trees on a peak high above the surrounding area. 435 acres of preserved forest are nestled around it. No matter your religious preferences, this peak is an undeniably special place.
Blue Mound State Park
Higher elevations, unique geological features, and 15 miles of trails bring nature lovers from all around the state to Blue Mound. Hike, bike, swim, or flex your photography skills at this Wisconsin gem.
Great River Road
This is a great fall option for anyone who loves a scenic drive. The byway follows the Mississippi River for 250 miles. On your journey, you’ll dip through 33 historic river villages. Gorgeous Mississippi River vistas are iconic in the fall.
St. Croix National Scenic Riverway
The St. Croix and Namekagon rivers form this national riverway. 200 miles of clean water rushes through a forested landscape. You can paddle, boat, fish, and camp through the wilderness. Historic towns dot the river along the way.