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 uneven, 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! Visitors may use wheelchairs on trails at their discretion.
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.
The Arboretum trail map (PDF) can be downloaded here and found in trail boxes on the grounds and in the Visitor Center. If map boxes are empty, we recommend taking a photo of the big trail maps on site or checking out AllTrails, which is on the web and available as an app.
Markers on wooden posts at trail intersections coincide with the circular labels on the map (e.g., A7, F1).
Grady Tract trails can be reach 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.
Arboretum rangers provide suggested quarterly hiking routes to enjoy seasonal highlights. Several routes are suggested, of different distances and areas. These maps can be seen at the Visitor Center reception desk, on the information kiosk outside the Visitor Center, and by visiting the seasonal trail routes webpage.
You can view and download PDFs of the Wisconsin Native Plant Garden map and Longenecker Horticultural Gardens map. These maps are also included in our printed garden brochures, available in the Visitor Center.
Accessibility: The Arboretum Visitor Center is an accessible facility. There are five accessible parking spots in the main lot (two in the north section, three in the south section). There is an accessible path through the Native Plant Garden (map PDF) near the building; parts of this path are on a slope. Visitors may use wheelchairs on garden lawns and natural areas at their discretion. The Arboretum is unable to provide wheelchairs.
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!