Southwest Commuter Path, Madison, WI

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Still in Madison, I went for another walk.  This time I wanted to focus on the bike path that I’d traversed a short section of two days earlier.  Within the City of Madison it’s actually called the Southwest Commuter Path, and it’s built along a former railroad track right-of-way, converted to a bike/multi-use path.  While checking out the path on the computer before setting out, I was surprised and amused to find that I could trace it, with very few breaks, all the way to the Illinois state line.  Later I discovered that the Madison path is actually part of the Badger State Trail, which does indeed extend to the state line some 40 miles away.  Technically, it’s part of the Wisconsin State Park System.

The weather was in the mid-to-high 80’s with moderate Midwest summertime humidity and little breeze.  I was planning to walk 5-6 miles, accessing the path at Virginia Terrace on the West Side of town, and I hoped to make it to the US 12/18 beltway south of the city (I did).

GPS track

GPS track

A striking feature of this path is that many areas along the path have been planted with native and prairie wildflowers.  I was struck by the diversity of types and colors of flowers.

picture of beautiful wildflower along the commuter path

Beautiful wildflower along the commuter path

There are even sections that have been planted and are maintained by residents of the neighborhoods through which the path goes.  This is an example of a prairie planting maintained by the Dudgeon Monroe neighborhood.

picture of Dudgeon Monroe Prairie

Dudgeon Monroe Prairie

In another area the neighborhood group had erected a sign with pictures and names of several flowers.  Because of this sign I was able to identify these beautiful yellow day lilies as Hyperion day lilies.

picture of Hyperion day lilies

Hyperion day lilies

Other neighborhoods had installed informational signs regarding the origin of the neighborhood name.

picture of Nakoma neighborhood sign

Nakoma neighborhood sign

Although many city as well as rural areas seem to have much less bird life than a few decades ago, along the commuter path I heard several favorites that reminded me of childhood visits to Madison: mourning doves, cardinals, house wrens, and goldfinches.  I have inserted links to pages that include information as well as calls of these species.

While walking along enjoying the wildflowers and bird songs, I was startled to see a sign informing me I had reached Saturn!

picture of Saturn in Madison?!

Saturn in Madison?!

It turns out that there is an entire scale model of the solar system, called Planet Trek, with the sun in central Madison and Pluto located 23 miles away on another bike path that connects to the Southwest Commuter Path.  This is a seasonal display and is taken down for the winter months.  I look forward to returning some other time to find other planets.

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5 Responses to Southwest Commuter Path, Madison, WI

  1. Pingback: Southwest Commuter Path, Madison, WI (east end) | trailhiker

  2. Pingback: Military Ridge Trail – Mt Horeb | trailhiker

  3. Pingback: Badger State Trail – north | trailhiker

  4. Pingback: Southwest Commuter Path, Madison, WI (east end) | trailhiker

  5. Pingback: Military Ridge Trail: County PB to Fitchburg | trailhiker

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