Four Parks & Trails you Must Visit on Madison’s East Side

It is so nice having a park and playground close to home.  My family enjoys walking and biking to playgrounds in our own neighborhood.  However, the kids tend to get bored with the same playground equipment and they sometimes need a change of atmosphere to keep them entertained.  We’ve branched-out and discovered some unique spaces on Madison’s east side over the past several years.  We enjoy many of these spots year-round.

Sun Prairie’s Firemen’s Dream Park

The Dream Park in Sun Prairie features unique playground equipment and two separate play areas for younger and older age groups.  Stop by and drive the wooden race cars, put on a play in the stage area or play a tune on the musical instruments scattered throughout the playground.  Families will enjoy plenty of shade and picnic tables.  Restrooms are on site as well as plenty of parking.  If your family is interested in taking a short walk, you may wish to stop for a coffee and board games at Beans ‘n Cream Coffeehouse or a sweet treat at Market Street Diner & Bakery.  The park is located within walking distance to the downtown shopping area.

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Unique playground equipment

Burke Park

This hidden gem is located between Sun Prairie and Cottage Grove on Reiner Road.  Burke Park offers everything you need for an afternoon playdate or a family picnic.  The playground has an assortment of equipment for all ages and a large shelter and grills for picnicking.  There are also public restrooms available.  The unique atmosphere includes a quiet spot with bench on top of a hill, surrounded by a pond and covered bridge.   A second hill and shaded picnicking area is located on the grounds.  My family has enjoyed this sledding hill and “skating” on the frozen pond.  The wooded area features a gravel hiking path and several geocaching finds.   We had our first geocaching adventure at this park.

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Sledding at Burke Park

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Unique picnicking areas

Upper Yahara River Trail

This unique hiking trail is located in Deforest, west of the Windsor Road/Lake Road intersection.  You will find several local runners enjoying this 2.37 mile path (five mile loop).  The path is paved, which features a boardwalk and several beautiful bridges.  You will find families enjoying bike rides or a hike.  The Upper Yahara River Trail features two challenging hills along the route and beautiful scenery, including the river.  My family has encountered deer on several occasions and there are educational spots along the river, where families can educate themselves on animals and plants in the area and river.  There are several playgrounds off of the path, including the splash park at the Conservancy Commons playground.  This trail also offers a butterfly garden and small fishing pond with pier at the trailhead.

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A great spot for family photos

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The boardwalk and paved trail are perfect for all ages

Tenney Park

Tenney Park is located between downtown Madison and Madison’s east side.   Offering a winding path, you and your family may want to enjoy a nice stroll or bike ride along the pond.  If you don’t want to transport your own bikes, you may rent bikes from B-cycle.  Families will enjoy the beautiful view of Lake Mendota and can watch boats travel through the Tenney Locks.  This historic park also features playground equipment near the Lake and outdoor sports during the warmer months.  Throughout the winter months, families can enjoy ice skating or a game of hockey on the frozen pond.  Ice skating rental and hot cocoa are available in the warming house.

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Ice skating

Now, pack up the minivan with a few sleds, some hiking shoes and a picnic lunch and make some new memories together on Madison’s east side.

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