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A Guide to Bicycling Around Lake Monona

  • June 18, 2020
  • December 04, 2020
  • Madison

This guide for bicycling around Lake Monona is  meant for your enjoyment during our time of dealing with the COVID-19 virus.  Please adhere to all municipal and state requirements for social distancing and healthy behavior on public paths and streets. 

Bicycling around Lake Monona is very popular with the bicycle community.    The route (12.5 miles) outlined below goes through a mixture of bicycle paths and lightly traveled streets and deviates slightly from the official Lake Loop but was selected because it is relatively flat and easy to follow.   It takes about 75 minutes for the average cyclist.   Enjoy


Monona Terrace to Waunona Way - 2.4 miles

This portion of the trail is flat and follows the John Nolen Drive Causeway.  There are three junctions to other trails on this section.  Shortly after leaving Monona Terrace there is a junction  to the Brittingham Park Bike Path where after 500 yards, you can connect to the Southwest Commuter Path.  At Olin Park, there is a junction  to the Wingra Creek Bike Path which will take you to Fish Hatchery where you can connect to the Cannonball Trail.     And just before Waunona Way and the railroad tracks, there is a junction that will enable you to continue on the Capital City Trail  where you have the option of biking to Fitchburg or biking to McFarland via the Lower Yahara River Trail.  But if you are continuing on the Lake Monona Trail, turn left onto Waunona Way.


Waunona Way to Winnequah Road - 1.8 miles

This section of the route goes along Waunona Road, a lightly traveled street.  Esther Beach Park has nice views of the Capital and Lake Monona.  At the end of Waunona Road, the path goes into A. O. Paunack Park.  Follow the path in the park to Bridge road where you will turn left for one block to reach Winnequah Road.


Winnequah Road - 2.4 miles

At Winnequah road turn left and follow it for the next 2.4 miles.  There is a bike lane for about half of the distance.  At the stop sign at Maywood and Winnequah, turn left on Winnequah and go up the hill.  When you go down the hill on Winnequah you will see a pond on your left side and a Lake Loop sign that says to turn left.  Ignore that sign (the Lake Loop route has some steep hills on Tonywatha) and instead turn right on Winnequah Road.  A few blocks further you will cross Nichols Road;  the Monona Public Library is two blocks to the right at 1000 Nichols Road, a nice half-way point on the route.    Continuing on Winnequah Road, at 4516 Winnequah (across from Schluter Park), you can get Babcock Hall ice cream at Monona Bait & Ice Cream Shop.  At the intersection of Winnequah Road and West Coldspring Avenue (there is a sign that says Lake Loop),  turn right onto W. Coldspring Avenue.


Winnequah Road to Capital City Trail - 1.5 miles

Go three blocks on W. Coldspring Avenue to Monona drive.  Cross Monona drive at the lights and go one block on E. Coldspring Avenue to Jerome street.    Turn left on Jerome street and continue until you reach E. Buckeye road.   Go straight ahead on Monona Court for four blocks until you reach Maher Avenue.  Turn left on Maher Avenue for four more blocks.  Cross Cottage Grove Road (the new Pinney Branch Library is a block away on the right) and go straight ahead onto Royster Oaks Drive for two blocks.  Turn right on Pinney street for one block and then left on Dempsey for one block.  Just after the railroad tracks, you will turn left onto the Capital City Trail.


Capital City Trail at Dempsey to Monona Terrace - 4.5 miles

The final stretch follows the Capital City Trail back to Monona Terrace.   About a mile along the route you will come across Olbrich Botanical Gardens which is now open but has restrictions regarding hours and the number of visitors.  Across from Olbrich is the  Garver Feed Mill where you can get pizza and ice cream.   Further down along Atwood Avenue you can get ice cream at the Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Company (2322 Atwood Avenue) or the Atwood Scoop  (2302 Atwood Avenue), both of which have outdoor seating along the trail.  The trail then parallels Atwood Avenue and Williamson Street and both streets have a cornucopia of establishments for food and drink.


BCycle Stations along the Route

Madison BCycle has a number of stations along the route where you can rent an electric bicycle. The following map lists some stations within a block of the route.


Other Resources

Dane County Bicycle Map

Madison BCycle

Madison Bikes Community (Facebook)

Madison Bikes

Bicycle Benefits

Top 10 Trails to Try in Madison

Madison Road Bike Routes

Monona Lake Loop Map

Biking in Fitchburg

Riding in Sun Prairie


Compiled by Bob Shaw -

June 2020

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