Note: Out of concern for the health of our community during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Visitor Center will be closed and Arboretum events are cancelled until further notice. COVID-19 updates»
The Arboretum maintains more than 17 miles of trails through restored prairies, savannas, woodlands, and wetlands. The trail system offers visitors recreational, inspirational, and educational opportunities. It is also designed to facilitate the protection of landscapes, wildlife habitat, cultural resources, and ecosystem integrity.
Our purpose is to provide an enjoyable, safe outdoor experience and to foster curiosity for Wisconsin’s native ecosystems, the science of restoration ecology, and the value of restoring natural areas. We offer many free nature walks and family programs for those who want to learn more about Arboretum land, life, work, and history as they walk the trails.
The Arboretum’s trail system includes footpaths, boardwalks, and fire lanes. We recommend sturdy, closed-toe, weather appropriate shoes or boots. Trails may be muddy, icy, or flooded, depending on weather and season. Please stay on the paths walking on trail edges can damage plants and wildflowers, and going completely off trail can trample plants, damage wildlife habitat, and interfere with research and land care projects. Also, poison ivy is a native plant that grows in the Arboretum!
Mosquitos and ticks are to be expected, come prepared with your preferred insect repellent and clothing.
Pets, picnics, drones, hammocks and slack lines, collecting natural materials, in-line skates and skateboards, and bicycles on trails are not permitted at the Arboretum. These policies are for the benefit and protection of people, plants, and animals at the Arboretum. Please check the visitor etiquette before you visit.
NOTE: Beginning in early March 2020, Curtis Pond in west Curtis Prairie will be rehabilitated as part of a significant stormwater infrastructure project. The project may cause some disruption for visitors. Trails in west Curtis Prairie and the northeast corner of the Grady Tract may be closed during the project. For your safety and that of work crews, please stay off closed trails and out of project areas.
Many miles of trails throughout the rest of the Arboretum will remain open. McCaffrey Drive between Seminole Highway and the Curtis Prairie parking lot may be congested with truck traffic. The Curtis Prairie lot will be closed and used as a staging area.
Markers on wooden posts at trail intersections coincide with the circular labels on the map (e.g., A7, F1).
Grady Tract trails are accessible via a pedestrian tunnel under the Beltline Highway, from the parking lot on Seminole Highway (just south of the Beltline), and from the southeast entrance adjacent to the Cannonball Path.
Skiing and snowshoeing are allowed on designated trails. Routes are indicated on the Arboretum trail map, and ski and snowshoe maps are posted on trails seasonally. Please stay on trails in winter—snow is habitat and there’s a lot going on under the surface!