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A Guide to Bicycling the McFarland Loop

  • July 06, 2020
  • December 04, 2020
  • Madison

This guide for bicycling the McFarland loop 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. 

The route (18 miles) outlined below traverses a mixture of bicycle paths and city streets with bike lanes.   It takes a little less than two hours 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 if you turn left will enable you to continue on the Lake Monona Loop trail.  However if you are going to McFarland, turn right onto the Capital City State Trail.


Waunona Way to Lake Farm Campground - 2 miles

At Nob Hill Road there is a kiosk where you can purchase a state trail pass for the Capital City State trail.  Check the website for details about obtaining a pass during Covid-19.  After crossing South Towne drive, on the right is the Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District's (MMSD) wastewater treatment plant and on the left is MMSD's wildlife observation area and boardwalk.   Arriving at Lake Farm campground, there is another junction.  Turning right you will be continuing on the Capital City State trail.  Turning left, you will be riding on the Lower Yahara River trail to McFarland.


Lower Yahara River Trail - 2.6 miles

A trail pass is not required to bicycle the Lower Yahara River Trail.  To your left is  the Lussier Family Heritage Center which connects the community to natural resources through education, recreation, and experiences.  The highlight of Lower Yahara River Trail is the mile-long boardwalk spanning Lake Waubesa.  It is the longest inland boardwalk bridge constructed solely for non-motorized transportation in North America.  At the eastern terminus of the bridge is McFarland's McDaniel Park and the Green Lantern Restaurant.


Siggelkow Road - 1.0 miles

Turn left on Siggelkow's Road bike lane for one mile until you reach Marsh Road where you will turn left.


Siggelkow Road to Pflaum Road - 2.7 miles

There is a bike lane on Marsh Road.  An overpass takes you over Highway 18.  At the stop sign after the overpass, you will arrive at the 4-way stop which is located at the intersection of Femrite Drive/Agriculture Drive.  Continue straight ahead on Agriculture Drive. 

There are two notable buildings on this stretch of Agriculture Drive.  The first right after the Femrite  Drive intersection is Fen Oak Drive where at 5201 Fen Oak Drive  you can explore the Dane County Extension Teaching Garden with over 850 varieties of perennials, shrubs & trees that are midwest hardy. Further down on the right is World Dairy Drive that leads to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection building.

But you want to stay on Agriculture drive where the road bends a little to the left until you reach Pflaum Road where you will turn right.


Pflaum Road to Capital City Trail - 2.6 miles

Travel 100 yards on Pflaum Road until you reach Vondron Road.  After the railroad tracks on Vondron Road, take the first left onto Pebblebrook Drive.  Take Pebblebrook Drive until you reach the first left - Sandlewood Circle.  On the left of Sandlewood Circle you will see an unmarked bike/pedestrian path that runs for 500 yards  to Leona Court.  Take Leona Court for a half block to Tarragon Drive.  Turn left on Tarragon Drive for 50 feet where you will see the start of the Capital City Bike path at 1933 Tarragon Drive. 

Take the Capital City Bike path to E. Buckeye Road.  Cross E. Buckeye where you will see the sign for the Acewood Interior Bike Path.  Continue on the  path for one block to Deerwood Drive.  At that intersection you will see an unmarked path which is the Acewood Interior Bike Path.  Continue on that path to Leo drive and take the first left onto Vernon Avenue.  Vernon Avenue dead ends onto Cottage Grove Road.  

On Cottage Grove Road you turn left.  On Cottage Grove Road you can either take the sidewalk on the south side or the bike lane on the north side for a half mile until you reach the Capital City Trail located underneath the Highway51/S. Stoughton Road overpass. 


Capital City Trail to Monona Terrace - 4.7 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 to Monona Terrace then parallels Atwood Avenue and Williamson Street.  Both streets have a cornucopia of establishments for food and drink.


BCycle Station 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

Biking in Fitchburg

Riding in Sun Prairie


Compiled by Bob Shaw -

June 2020

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