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Fall Hiking in Madison Parks

October 3, 2020 9:14 PM

Take a self-guided walk in nature any day this fall.  As we continue to follow safety guidelines from Public Health Madison & Dane County, and are unable to promote guided Bird & Nature Outings, our volunteer nature experts have created these suggested walks. Follow and tag us on Instgram, and show us where you're exploring in #madisonparks. 

Tenney Park, 1650 Sherman Ave. 
Migrating Magic
Tenney Park is a favorite place for observing birds and fall colors! Take a self-guided nature walk exploring the lake path, around the picturesque lagoon and along the Yahara canal for scenic fall views. Look for tiny migrating Warblers flitting in the trees and colorful ducks, geese and other waterfowl on the water. Where are they coming from? What are they doing? Where are they going? Bring binoculars or a camera if you have one. Try to identify and learn more about the birds you see. Our nature experts suggest the website All About Birds to help you identify and learn more about the many birds you'll spot around Tenney Park.

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park - North Unit, 6098 N Sherman Ave. 

cherokee marsh fall

Fall Colors at Cherokee 
Take the River trail to the Hickory Island boardwalk (named after the hickory trees) for a great view of the marsh and go back up the trail to the Overlook trail through the woods. In fall, leaf colors change with shortening hours of daylight. The sugar-making green chlorophyll 'solar panels' shut down, the leaf petioles detach, and energy is stored over winter in the roots. As leaves drop the structures of tree branch patterns and leaf shapes become more apparent. Can you tell a native Wisconsin white oak from a red oak? A basswood? Use a guidebook or app such as Seek to try and identify some of the trees by their leaves, bark, branches, colors and seeds.  TRAIL MAP  

Photo Credit: Jan Axelson, Friends of Cherokee Marsh


Owen Conservation Park, 6021 Old Sauk Road owen fall by brian shore
Life at Owen 
Slip on your hiking shoes and discover the amazing variety of native wildflowers, butterflies and other forms of life in the restored prairies at Owen Park. Hike among the giant oaks and across the Ice Age moraine hill to look for wild turkeys and white-tailed deer feeding on acorns on the ground and colorful woodpeckers hammering for insects in the trees. What kinds of life do you see? Bring binoculars or a camera if you have one. TRAIL MAP Photo Credit: Brian Shore 



Turville Point Conservation Park, 1156 Olin-Turville Court 
turville pointFall Trees at Turville 
Start your walk through the woodsy path from the parking lot to the restored prairie. Continue along the winding nature trails for spectacular views of ancient pine groves and colorful autumn trees. If feeling adventurous you can follow a bit steeper paths down to the Lake Monona shoreline and circle back to the prairie and parking lot. Try to identify some of the many trees by their leaves, bark, branches, colors and seeds. Why do leaves change colors? Why do leave fall in autumn? What colors are typical of different tree species? TRAIL MAP



Warner Park, 2930 N. Sherman Ave.
Reflections and Change 
Take a fall nature walk on the easy paths along the Warner Lagoon, through the quiet Warner Woods and up to sled hill for a beautiful view of the Wild Side of Warner Park. Enjoy the honking of geese and the colors changing in the trees. October is a time of seasonal change and transformation. What do you remember from previous years about colors changing, birds flocking, seed harvests, warm days, cool nights and more?  Bring those memories and make a few new ones as you explore how "this" October compares with past.  Will we find dragonflies, late wildflowers blooming, Sandhill Cranes, or tracks in the snow? Visit Wild Warner to learn more.


Edna Taylor Conservation Park, 330 Femrite Drive 
edna taylorNature Scavenger Hunt 
Can you spot a tree changing colors? A frog or bug that has not yet snuggled in for winter? Canada geese honking and gathering?  A robin eating worms or berries to fatten up for migration?  A junco (grey bird with white edges on tail) that has arrived from further up north? A yellow leaf? Milkweed pod seeds floating in the wind? Make your own nature adventure list of interesting things you find. Edna Taylor Conservation Park connects to the trails of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and nearby Woodland Park in Monona. TRAIL MAP

See HIKING for more suggestions throughout Madison Parks. 


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