Winter trails (Photo: Jeff Miller/UW–Madison)

Winter trails (Photo: Jeff Miller/UW–Madison)

The Arboretum features distinct ecological communities, horticultural collections, effigy mounds, more than 17 miles of trails, and a Visitor Center. It is a place of active learning, reflection, creativity, land care, research, and recreation—where human, animal, and plant communities coexist.

To start your visit, stop by the Visitor Center, the central source of information and learning opportunities. Get the latest news from the volunteer receptionist, pick up maps and pamphlets, visit the bookstore and art gallery.

Drop in for a tour or restoration work party, take a class, volunteer, learn about our ecological communities and gardens. See the calendar of events for a complete listing of activities.

Explore the Arboretum independently—quiet places for reflection and observation are easy to come by on the trail system. See Getting Here for directions, hours, and parking.

In the field of ecological restoration, the Arboretum fills important research, education, and land care roles. It is home to thousands of plant and animal species that rely on the care and respect of humans in order to thrive. To protect the wildlife and ecological communities, please stay on trails and do not bring pets or picnics.

Please read and follow Visitor Etiquette.


Visitor Center restrooms are available year-round during building hours. From May to October, restrooms are also available in a small building a short distance northeast of the Visitor Center. A port-a-potty is located in the main parking lot during winter months.

Ways to enjoy the Arboretum

Hike and observe nature: Bird watch, soak in changing seasons through blooming wildflowers and fall colors, tune in to the subtleties of winter ecology. There is always something to discover at the Arboretum. Use the trail map to locate particular ecological communities and gardens.

Free nature walks are a great introduction to the Arboretum, plant and animal identification, and ecological concepts. You can also schedule a private group tour for adults as well as school and youth groups.

Exercise: Runners and cyclists can use 4 miles of paved road through woodlands, wetlands, and prairie. Walkers and runners on paved roads should travel single file, facing traffic, on the road edge. Running is also permitted on the unpaved fire lanes and footpaths within the Arboretum. Biking on unpaved areas is prohibited.

Ski and Snowshoe: Skis and snowshoes are allowed only on designated trails. The Arboretum has 10+ miles of multi-use trails. Off-trail skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking is not permitted.

Create: Nature-loving artists and photographers will find excellent subject matter throughout the Arboretum. Photographers should take note of the photo policy.