Five places to see the leaves change color in and around Madison, WI

Fall leaves changing color around Holy Hill church

Un-be-leaf-able fall colors surrounding Holy Hill. | Photo via @abovemke

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The air is crisp, the leaves are changing, and pumpkin-flavored everything is back. Put on your plaid scarf + sweater, because we’re rounding up the top 5 spots in and around Dane County for an Insta-worthy, quintessential fall adventure.

Lakeshore Path (~5 min. drive from Madison)

  • 🍂 Take a stroll along Lake Mendota + through UW-Madison’s campus.
  • 📍2000 University Bay Dr., Madison, WI| Sunrise to sunset daily
  • 🎟️ Free parking at Picnic Point on the weekends
  • Pro Tip: Take a break at the Wisconsin Union Terrace Rathskeller with a hoppy brew.

Lakeshore path along Lake Mendota | Photo via @bossybrittany

Gibraltar Rock (~30 min. drive from Madison)

  • 🍂 Venture north of Madison for a short hike on the Ice Age Trail with views of the Wisconsin River Valley.
  • 📍 Gibraltar Rock Rd., Lodi, WI| 6 a.m.-8 p.m. daily
  • 🎟️ Free entry
  • Pro Tip: Pack a blanket + snacks for a small picnic on the overlook.

Devil’s Lake State Park (~1 hr. drive from Madison)

  • 🍂 A must-do fall classic. Hike the East Bluff or West Bluff trail for panoramic views of the lake.
  • 📍 S5975 Park Rd., Baraboo, WI| 6 a.m.-11 p.m. daily
  • 🎟️ Daily or annual vehicle sticker | $13+
  • Pro Tip: Spaces fill up fast, so arrive early to guarantee your parking spot.
Sunrise photo over Devil's Lake in Baraboo, WI

The hike is always worth the panoramic views. | Photo via @bringmehaunsolo

Holy Hill (~1.25 hr. drive from Madison)

  • 🍂 Climb the scenic tower for breathtaking views of the Kettle Moraine area.
  • 📍 1525 Carmel Rd., Hubertus, WI| Mon.-Sat. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sun. 1:45-4:30 p.m., May-Oct.
  • 🎟️ Free entry, donations welcome
  • Pro Tip: Make your way out before All Hallows’ Eve, because the tower closes Oct. 31 for the season.

Geneva Lake Shore Path (~1.5 hr. drive from Madison)

  • 🍂 Pick a section of the 26 mile path for a brisk walk around “The Hamptons of the Midwest.”
  • 📍 918 W Main St., Lake Geneva, WI | Open daily, sunrise to sunset
  • 🎟️ Free entry
  • Pro Tip: Park near the library for easy access to the trail.

….And a bonus for those willing to drive a bit more.

Mountain Lookout Tower (~3 hr. drive from Madison)

  • 🍂 Climb the 100-ft. National Historic Lookout registered tower for scenery of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest.
  • 📍 Mountain Lookout Tower, Mountain, WI | May 1-Nov. 1 | 8 a.m.-Sunset
  • 🎟️ Free entry
  • Pro Tip: Aim for golden hour to catch stunning light on the leaves.
Hiking boots and fall leaves on top of a old fire tower.

An early morning sunrise on the tower. | Photo via 608today team

Trying to hit peak foliage? We’re currently predicted to reach the brightest hues at the end of Oct., but stay up-to-date on other regions of the state.


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