Looking for that perfect hike in Wisconsin for young children? Whether you’re new to hiking with your baby or toddler, or you’re looking for a new trail to explore, the Hike it Baby community is a valuable resource for finding family hiking trails around the country. In this article, our community shares three beautiful hikes in Wisconsin to explore with babies and young children.
Pheasant Branch Conservancy (Middleton, WI)
Pheasant Branch Conservancy offers a beautiful respite to those visiting Madison. This beautiful 3-mile gravel and boardwalk trail loops around and through marshy wetland, prairie and forest area and is just minutes from Madison, WI. Here you can see a natural bubbling spring and abundance of wildlife, and if you decide to hike up Frederick’s Hill, which is also home to Native American burial grounds, you will also get to see a great view of our state capitol building. Additionally there are hiking (non-gravel) trails available that take you deeper into the landscape.
This conservancy offers a broad range of land and habitat types and wildlife. It includes prairie, natural springs, marshes, meadows and woodland hills. There is a playground for the littles near the parking lot. There are some signs throughout that detail the rich history of this area. Read more about the trail in the Hike it Baby Family Trail Guide.
- You can rent an all-terrain wheelchair stored at the entrance to the conservancy in order to make this special place accessible to everyone.
- A map is available that indicates bench locations, habitat types and bike racks so that you can plan your next snack break and help your kids identify what they’re seeing.
- If you have kids that want a bit more of a challenge, Frederick’s Hill is worth the climb.
Photo courtesy of Dineo Dowd
Brady’s Bluff Prairie (Trempealeau, WI)
This 1.2-mile trail offers beautiful views of the Mississippi River from the top of the bluff. It’s a wonderful place to see fall colors, wildflowers in the spring, and wildlife. It’s great for families because it’s shorter in mileage and offers a low-grade climb to the top. At the steepest part of the trail, there are stairs and safety rails. While it’s not a stroller accessible trail, this is a great trail for older kids, or children that can be in a carrier. It’s a close drive to La Crosse and a favorite among many in our branch!
- The bathrooms are not readily available, so plan ahead.
- This trail is nestled inside the Perrot State Park.
- Have your kids guess how far it is to Minnesota!
Photo courtesy of Christina Marie
Owen Conservation Park (Madison, WI)
Owen Conservation Park is a gem nestled in on the west side of Madison, WI. It features a gently hilly terrain with woods surrounding a prairie. The 96-acre park has a total of 3 miles of interconnecting trails throughout the property that provides hiking options for all levels. This park is a former farm and retreat for a Madison university professor. Today the landscape is mostly prairie and oak.
There are places for kids to explore on rocks, ample benches along the trails, and even cross-country skiing in the winter! Don’t be fooled due to its city location – there are plenty of chances to see wildlife within the park. The park also has a monthly free guided nature walk. Get more details on the trail in the Family Trail Guide.
- The three ponds are a bit of a walk from the parking and restrooms, but offer great wildlife views.
- There are numerous trails that interconnect to allow you to customize the distance and allow you to turn around quickly if you need to.
Photo courtesy of Abby Czachur.
More Resources for Families with Young Children
Wisconsin has amazing trail options for families with young children. For more family hike ideas, see:
- Hike it Baby calendar (or connect with the local branch)
- Hike it Baby Family Trail Guide
- Wisconsin State Park System
- Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Outdoor Adventures with Babies and Toddlers – New Book by Hike it Baby Founder Shanti Hodges
- 3 Kid-friendly trails in Kansas for young children
- 3 Kid-friendly trails in Iowa to explore with young children
- 3 Beautiful hikes in Ohio for young children
What are your favorite hikes in Wisconsin for families with babies, toddlers and young children? Leave a comment below!
Trail reviews contributed by Amanda Cleary Pickart, Christina Marie and Abby Czachur.