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A Guide to Bicycling the Blackhawk Path/Lake Mendota Drive/Lakeshore Nature Preserve Loop

  • August 06, 2020
  • April 07, 2021
  • Madison


This guide for bicycling the Blackhawk Path/Lake Mendota Drive/Lakeshore Nature Preserve 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 (7.8 miles) outlined below, starting at Allen Centennial Garden, is along dedicated bicycle paths and quiet residential streets.   It takes a little less one hour for the average cyclist.   Enjoy

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Allen Garden to Spring Harbor Drive - 3.6 miles


The ride starts at UW-Madison's Allen Centennial Garden, 620 Babcock Drive.  During Covid-19 the Garden is open by reservation only at selected times.

From the garden go south for 1/2 block to Observatory Drive and turn right.  Take the first left (Elm Drive) for one block where you will see the bicycle/pedestrian University Avenue overpass.  Before the overpass turn right and bike past the Dairy Cattle Center and the greenhouses until you reach the stop sign.  At the stop sign, turn left.  There is construction fencing but after 50 feet you will see the Campus Bike Path intersection.   That is the start of the Campus Drive Bike Path that parallels Campus Drive.

Continuing on the Campus Drive Bike Path you will cross Highland Avenue (VA and University Hospitals to the right) and University Bay Drive (Frank LLoyd Wright's Unitarian Meeting House a block to the right).  At University Bay Drive the bike path changes to the  Blackhawk Path which goes through Shorewood Hills. 

Continue on the Blackhawk Path until you reach Shorewood Blvd.  Turn left on Shorewood Blvd for 50 feet until you reach Locust Drive where you turn right.  At the stop sign at Locust Drive/Rose Place, turn right and continue on Locust Drive where after a block you will see on the right the Indian Hills Bike Path which you will take to Spring Harbor Drive.

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Lake Mendota Drive - 1.6 miles


Turn right on Spring Harbor Drive for one block to Lake Mendota Drive.  If you turn left on Lake Mendota Drive, after two blocks you will be at Spring Harbor Beach Park which has a small swimming area.  But if you are on the Loop Trail, turn right on Lake Mendota Drive.

After one block on Lake Mendota Drive,  Spring Court will be on your left.  If you take Spring Court for three blocks you will be at Merrill Springs Park which features three stone picnic benches and a spring cistern built by the Wisconsin Emergency Relief Administration in 1934.

Continuing on Lake Mendota Drive, you will be biking past the Blackhawk Country Club on your right.  Lake Mendota Drive is a quiet tree lined residential street where you can occasionally view Lake Mendota over the houses.   At 3650 Lake Mendota Drive is the Frank Lloyd Wright designed privately owned John Pew House.  At 3400 Lake Mendota Drive is another public park, McKenna Park, also known as Shorewood Hills Beach, where you have access to the Lake Mendota waterfront along with a boat dock and pier.  Continue on Lake Mendota Drive until you reach Eagle Heights and the Lakeshore Nature Preserve.

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Lakeshore Nature Preserve - 2.6 miles


This portion stays on Lake Mendota Drive and follows the Lakeshore Nature Preserve which has a myriad of hiking trails to explore.  Bicycles are not allowed on the trails but bicycle parking is available at Raymer's Cove, Frautschi Point, Eagle Heights Gardens, and Picnic Point.

At the entrance to the Eagle Heights Gardens you will see a paved path that is the start of the Howard Temin  Path that you can take or you can continue on Lake Mendota Drive until you reach University Bay Drive which turns left onto the Howard Temin Path .  Follow the bike path until you reach the Porter Boat House where you will turn right for one block to return to the Allen Centennial Garden.

Then you can treat yourself by biking a block south to Babcock Hall, 1605 Linden Drive,  for some ice cream.  Check for its hours during the pandemic.

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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 few blocks of the route.



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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

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Compiled by Bob Shaw - robert.e.shaw@gmail.com

August 2020

PLATO is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in association with:

For more information about PLATO, contact:

Christine Bartlett
UW-Madison Continuing Studies
21 N. Park St, 7th Floor, Madison, WI 53715
Email: info@platomadison.org
Phone: 608-262-5823
Fax: 608-265-4555

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