The outdoors is for the birds… and the humans! —Tone Madison
And there’s a plethora of local outdoor activities besides having fun with the birds.
If you’re not excited about the How Lovely Are Thy Branches temporary maze project, which opened Sunday, January 30 in Olbrich Park, you’re not a woo-woo hippie. But check this. The project, the brainchild of local Madison artist Lillian Sizemore, uses the Tannenbaums donated last year to create a mystical spiral walk. With a single path in and out, mazes are a way to calm the mind, reflect and contemplate. The labyrinth (probably without David Bowie) is open until February near the Biergarten.
Do you like skating? Would you like to try? There are more than a dozen ice and hockey rinks and lagoons in Madison. Madison has skate rentals at Elver, Tenney and Vilas Parks Wednesday through Friday 4-8 p.m., Saturday 12-8 p.m., and Sunday 12-6 p.m. Here are complete details about skating at Madison City Parks and a link to subscribe to the city’s winter recreation news mailing list.
On February 12, you can skate and then sit and watch a movie on the Tenney Park ice rink. It starts with music from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. followed by Skate Cinema: Space Jam: A New Legacy. It’s free, no registration required. Just bring a lawn chair and a blanket and meet Don Cheadle, y’all. And LeBron James if you like that kind of stuff. In other skating news, the city is hosting Groove & Glide events every Friday until February 11, with music and games for all ages.
Maybe you are a skier or thinking about getting into it. There is cross-country skiing at Dane County parks, state parks, and city parks. Some of them require a state parks pass and/or sticker on your vehicle. Nearby Governor Nelson and Devil’s Lake each have 10 km of ski runs. Mirror Lake, which is often overshadowed by Devil’s Lake in the Baraboo area, has 19 miles of ski trails. Not too bad.
Maybe you prefer to skilfully slide down a hill for fun. There are a handful of toboggan runs in the city, Elver Park being the most popular. It’s even lit up at night for sledding under the stars!
I’m waiting for my first pair of snowshoes to arrive in the mail! I’m going to do some pet sitting on land that adjoins the Nicolet-Chequamegon National Forest and it’s going to be beautiful. Local snowshoeing is an option in Madison at parks with four inches of snow — Vilas Park even rents snowshoes on days the rinks are open. Please do not snowshoe on groomed ski trails in parks and conservation parks, or off-trail. It can spoil the habitat of the tiny mammals that live there, making it an easy snack for something bigger. (Sidenote: Please don’t eat the tiny mammals.) Here’s a handy snowshoe guide.
And for the big badass Madison bikers, there’s a single-lane bike path at Aldo Leopold Park. It’s 0.25 miles, so maybe you can circle it 8 or 17 times?
A few words of farewell for hikers, snowshoers and winter skiers in Wisconsin and Madison: if it’s a mound, go around it. Wish you happy outdoor activities in winter! May you be blessed by the sight of Nolan the snowy owl.