Bicycling the Capital City State Trail


The Capital City State Trail in Madison WI
The Capital City State Trail in Madison WI


The Capital City State Trail is a 17 mile safe and easy bicycle trail paved with asphalt. It begins on Madison's East Side and follows alongside a rail corridor to the center of the city. From there it follows along the shoreline of Lake Monona, and passes through Frank Lloyd Wright's Monona Terrace. It crosses under the Beltline and enters the Nine Springs E-Way Corridor - a series of nature preserves and park lands. This beautiful and serene part of the trail meanders across rolling hills through forest and prairie in Fitchburg.

The official trail ends in Madison near the junction between The Southwest Commuter Trail, The Military Ridge State Trail, The Badger State Trail, and The Cannonball Path. From there, you can loop back on the Southwest Commuter trail to Monona Terrace.

This exciting trail takes recreational bike riders past many of Madison's famous sites. There are countless places to stop for ice cream, drinks, and food along the way. And, with all of the trails and bikable streets in Madison there are infinite iterations of loop routes that can be made. See the sample itinerary below for ideas for an afternoon of biking. Don't miss the photos, interactive map, video, and related links in the article below.




Monona Terrace - On The Capital City State Trail
Monona Terrace - On The Capital City State Trail


Biking the route that I describe below reminded me of why the Madison area is such a popular place to live. It's one of the most fantastic cities in the Midwest. And, pedestrian pathways like the Capital City State Trail are at the heart of why Madisonians are so proud of their city.

Most locals probably don't realize that the Capital City Trail is a State Trail. It's just the bike trail at the end of the block. It's been here for as long as most can remember. Yet, in recent years the trail has been improved and refined. It now hugs closely to the shoreline of Lake Monona in Madison's downtown area. It has also been linked up to a whole network of local trails and long distance trails spreading out across the State from Madison.

Along the Capital City State Trail in Madison WI
Along the Capital City State Trail in Madison WI


From the world class Olbrich Gardens, to Frank Lloyd Wright's Monona Terrace, to the lakes with their fishermen and water skiers, to the rolling meadows and forests of Fitchburg, The Capital City State Trail takes you on a journey that inspires wonder, awe, excitement, and relaxation all at once.

You'll also get an inside peek at the way people in Madison live. From the small WWII era cottage communities on the East Side, to impressively modern apartments downtown, to sprawling estates in Fitchburg. Everyone who lives along the trail seems to inhabit an easy-going recreational attitude towards life. And everyone in Madison lives near a trail.

Visitors to this city will find all that they need to enjoy the afternoon along the Capital City State Trail. You can rent bikes along the trail at BCycle stations. There are parks with restrooms and water stations sprinkled along the entire length of the trail. And, there are countless restaurants and eateries to stop for a bite to eat. You can even camp along the trail at the Capital Springs State Recreational Area.

For serious touring cyclists, you can continue on from the Capital City State Trail  into Central Illinois along uninterrupted trails on the Badger State Trail. Or you can continue on for a long ride into the scenic Driftless Area all the way to Dodgeville on the Military Ridge State Trail.

I myself can handle about 25 miles in one bike ride. I've outlined a sample itinerary below of a lollipop route I recommend. I bike a bit faster than the average recreational rider and don't stop - so I was able to make this route in about 2 1/2 hours. Hard core bikers may finish this route in 1.5 hours. But, recreational riders and families can make a whole day of this trail by stopping for coffee, ice cream, burgers, and to relax at parks along the way. You can take your time and soak in all of the great scenery along the trail by taking a relaxed 7 mph pace. At this pace and with plenty of rest stops it might take you about 6 hours to complete the loop.

Along the Capital City State Trail in Fitchburg WI
Along the Capital City State Trail in Fitchburg WI


SAMPLE ITINERARY

11am - Park at Olbrich Park 43.091510, -89.332970
Bike 1 mile
11:07am-11:40am  - Stop for coffee and tea trailside at Cafe Zoma 43.094074, -89.347744
Bike 2.3 Miles
12:00pm- 12:30pm - Stop at Monona Terrace, take the elevator to the rooftop terrace
43.071514, -89.379938
Bike 8 Miles
1:30pm-2:30pm - Stop for lunch at The Great Dane Brewery 43.017798, -89.423785
Bike 4 Miles
3:00pm - Turn right onto the Southwest Commuter Path 43.017798, -89.423785
Bike 6 miles
3:45pm - Turn Left onto Capital City State Trail 43.066808, -89.385520
Bike 2.5 Miles
4:15 - 4:30pm  - Stop trailside for ice cream at Chocolate Shop Ice Cream Stand
43.093704, -89.348430
Bike 1 Mile
4:40pm- Arrive back at Olbrich Gardens

Total Miles: 25 miles
Total Time: 6 hours

Along the Capital City State Trail in Fitchburg WI
Along the Capital City State Trail in Fitchburg WI


Overview: Capital City State Trail


COUNTY: DANE
COMMUNITIES: Madison, Fitchburg

TOTAL MILES: 17 Miles
PAVEMENT: Asphalt

POINTS OF INTEREST: Lake Monona, Olbrich Gardens, Central Park, Monona Terrace, Olin Park, Nine Springs E-Way, Capital Springs State Park, Dawley Park, Gunflint Trail Park, Jeni and Kyle Preserve

Directions and Trail Map




If viewing on a mobile device, open the trail map above to load into Google Maps App by touching the expand rectangle in the upper right corner

Address for your GPS: 3400 Atwood Avenue Madison WI
| coordinates: 43.091771, -89.333048 |

From Milwaukee1 Hour
From Madisonn/a
From Green Bay2 Hours
From Wausau2 Hours
From Minneapolis4 Hours
From Chicago2.5 Horus


Photos




Capital City State Trail
Capital City State Trail 


Capital City State Trail
Capital City State Trail 


Southwest Commuter Path - Madison WI
Southwest Commuter Path - Madison WI

Southwest Commuter Path - Madison WI
UW Field House on the Southwest Commuter Path - Madison WI

Southwest Commuter Path - Madison WI
State Capitol on the Southwest Commuter Path - Madison WI

Southwest Commuter Path - Madison WI
Southwest Commuter Path - Madison WI

BCycle Station on the Southwest Commuter Path - Madison WI
BCycle Station on the Southwest Commuter Path - Madison WI


Video












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