Wisconsin Hikes: Dane County Indian Lake Park

On a crisp April morning, Lola the labrador and I headed out to Dane County’s Indian Lake Park. This park is a favorite of ours because of the large dog exercise area as well as the beautiful wooded trail section. 

As we neared the parking lot, Lola let out squeals of happiness that are reserved for her most favorite places like dog parks, lakes and the vet. I am training for a hiking trip out west, so I loaded up my backpack with about 30 pounds and we set off for the trails.

Indian Lake is a short drive from Madison and features:

  • A large unfenced dog park.
  • A teeny-tiny church on the peak of a hill overlooking the valley.
  • Miles of hilly trails to hike in summer or classic ski on in winter.
  • A beautiful lake where dogs can swim with a boat launch for boats that are not gas powered.

Although it was only 35 degrees, the sun was shining and there were a lot of other people out enjoying the park. Families with small children were hiking to the overlook by the teeny-tiny church; the dog park was full of pet families and we ran into other hikers as well as trail runners on the trails between the dog park and the church overlook.

I have never skied at Indian Lake because the trails are only groomed for classic skiers. They are a fun challenge to hike on though and I imagine they are quite a workout for skiers in the winter featuring many technical steep and twisty hills, some with narrow paths through the trees. 

Hiking in the early spring is beautiful because you aren’t bothered by insects and because things haven’t fully greened up, you can see through the trees to the vistas below. 

Far up in the hills, Lola and I found some poetry that had weathered over time. Lola and I hiked just over 4 miles and it felt like we could have hiked 4 more.