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: Please stay on trails and off of newly planted areas around Curtis Pond in west Curtis Prairie. These newly restored areas are covered with erosion control fabric for protection. These restorations are fragile and a significant ecological benefit of the Curtis Pond stormwater infrastructure project. Please help protect them.
The Arboretum trail map (PDF) can be downloaded here and found in trail boxes throughout the Arboretum and in the Visitor Center. Note: the Visitor Center is closed until further notice due to COVID-19. On-site staffing is limited and maps boxes may not be stocked at all times. 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 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!