5 Places on Madison’s East Side to Hike With Kids

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Living in Sun Prairie, sometimes we don’t always want to go into Madison or to the west side of Madison. Especially if we are looking for a hike or walk in the evening and don’t want to fight that rush hour traffic. If you are in the same boat, this is a great list for you! These are some of our favorite east side and Sun Prairie area based hikes and walks.

Interlake on the Yahara River

Token Creek County Park

Make sure you are going to the county park and not the conservancy because they are two different places. We love Token Creek County Park because of it’s multi-functional trails. You can hike the trails from a variety of different starting locations, this park is dog friendly, there are plenty of bathrooms (hiking pregnant or with littles, we all know bathrooms are a must), or you can even get your steps in while playing a round of disc golf. The trails are very diverse with some being fully wooded and others going through the prairie fields.

Upper Yahara River Trail

Located in Deforest, this is an easy location for east siders to get to or even if you live right in Madison. This trail is stroller friendly as it is all paved. It follows the (you guessed it) Yahara River for most of its length making the scenery beautiful. In the summer months, this is a great place to take kids and play in the super shallow parts where the river is barely ankle deep. The trail also crosses a handful of newly built boardwalks, making it one of our favorite places to go in the fall. The Upper Yahara River Trail is also a very popular biking path so be sure to share the path with everyone! We’ve seen plenty of wildlife every time we’ve come here to walk so make sure you tell your little ones to keep their eyes peeled for furry or feathered friends.

McCarthy Youth and Conservation County Park

If you’re a sunset lover, run don’t walk, to this park. There are a few different trail options but the main one around the prairie on the hill, is the perfect place to catch sunset views. There is a woodland loop that follows the water part of the way as well. This is a popular equestrian park in the summer and during the winter months this is a great place to come snowshoe or cross country ski. Please note there are no bathrooms at this park.

Sheehan Park

This is one of our year-round favorite parks for any occasion. This is a 143 acre park that includes a huge play structure with shelters and bathrooms for those days when you just need to relax at the park. Or if you want to bike, the bike path follows along the edges of the park and into the city of Sun Prairie. During the winter there are cross country ski trails that can also be walked during the summer months. The trails go through an old growth forest of Pine Trees and through a prairie behind the park. If you and your family like to trail ride on your bikes, there is also a fun multi-level course behind the park to enjoy.

Cherokee Marsh – North Unit

This is another great sunset spot. Bathrooms are located at the main parking entrance and from here you can head off onto a few different trails. If you go left from the parking lot you’ll take a short hike to a small metal footbridge that goes along the marsh for a little ways. In the summer months we also see tons of butterflies and turtles here. If you go right from the parking lot, you can choose from two different hikes, a shorter one that goes to an overlook and through the woods or you can take the longer loop that goes more through the wetland and by a pond.

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