Added by Alex Tande
A great place to escape the city. Located just outside Madison, it is short drive to experience a little patch of paradise. With activities year round, a clear night sky, or a great hiking/running spot, it provides an excellent spot for all to enjoy.
442 acre park just outside of Madison is a perfect spot to escape for awhile. About a 20 minute drive from Madison makes it easily accessible even on a tight schedule. It provides a great place for lots of outdoor activities, year round.
I love this place enough that I have been there many times and I will continue to go there in the future. I most commonly trail run through the park, starting and ending at the parking lot. The trail most commonly used the 4.7 route around the outside of the central region of the park, the red loop.
The start of the run goes right along the lakes edge, making it tough to keep running rather than sitting and enjoying the view. It kicks you out of the woods and into the an expansive view of the lake and the surrounding prairie. Weave in and around the trails though the prairie and work your way back into the woods. If running in the fall, the tree colors are truly spectacular. When the light hits the canopy it can be breathtaking.
This up and down course will give you a great workout through the woods, and then the last bit heads down into another open prairie surrounded by heavy woods on both sides. You finish the loop by cruising along a gravel road back towards the parking lot. Both the distance and elevation gain listed for this spot is for the red loop!
Hiking is another great option for this park. I have done all the different loops, all four of them. Red, yellow, green, and orange trails wind their way through the parks, all intersecting with each other. Red is the 4.7 mile loop, green is two miles, yellow and orange are both 1.3 miles long. Green, yellow, and orange all use the red trail (described running route) as part of the loop, but have trails that break off from the red trail and head back towards the car park through the open prairie land rather than looping around the outside of the park.
The awesome part of this park is that if you start out wanting to do the red loop, but decide partway through that there isn't enough time or you are starting to tire, take one of the other color loops back to the parking lot and still enjoy some beautiful scenery.
The winter option is cross country skiing. The ski routes follow the same loops as the hiking/running trails that are used when there is no snow on the ground. The red loop can be very challenging, and I was in over my head (I am a very inexperienced skier) when attempting it. All the loops are rated for their skill level, mostly dictated by the elevation change.
The awesome part of the skiing, is where the green and yellow loops intersect, there is a warming hut with a well stocked pile of firewood. Located just a few minutes from the parking lot (depending on which side of the loop you are on) it is an awesome spot to build a fire and warm up before climbing into the car.
While there are other activities you can do at Indian Lake, these are the ones that I do on a regular basis. Next time you are feeling the need to get outside in Madison, check out Indian lake, I know you won't regret it!
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Permits based upon which activity you are seeking https://www.countyofdane.com/lwrd/parks/indian_lake.aspx
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