Offering choices of a wetland boardwalk, swimming, fishing, hiking, water-skiing, sailing, and motor boating, Lake Kegonsa is an attractive lakeside park just a few miles from Madison. The park has several trails, approximately 5.3 miles of multiple loop configurations. The hiking at Lake Kegonsa is easy and light; the scenery varies from prairie and marshlands to beach and forest.
Lake Kegonsa State Park:
Lake Kegonsa is the perfect place for Madisonians to spend three or four hours to hike or stroll the beautiful restored prairies, oak forests, locust trees, and pine plantations of southwest Wisconsin. Visitors have a choice of approximately 80 campsites nestled among the shaded oaks, eclectic wildflowers, and quiet prairie. From the campsites, hikers can saunter the sunny trails, swim the beach, picnic in the park.
Noted for its fine fishing, Lake Kegonsa, once part of a magnificent river valley dated back more than a million years ago, spans 3,209 acres and is more than 30 feet deep. At 342-acres, the diverse natural area was established in 1962 and formally opened on August 12, 1966. Home to a variety of wildlife, blandings, painted turtles, and snapping turtles and soft-shelled turtles are often spotted in the marsh. In addition to foxes and rabbits, the park is inhabited by many toads and frogs, including leopard, spring peeper, and gray tree.
Lake Kegonsa State Park, Hiking
White Oak Nature Trail wends across a crushed-limestone path through black raspberry patches, Native American burial grounds, and the divinely scented fragrance of red needle carpet forest. Oak Knoll Trail takes hikers through handsomely restored prairies teeming with native species of wildflowers, including Turk’s-cap lilies, purple prairie clovers, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, Queen Anne’s lace, and bergamot.
Lake Kegonsa State Park is a birder’s delight, as wide selections of birds are observed here during migration periods, generally mid-March to mid-May and mid-August. Its wet, damp, grassy meadows give refuge to a graceful assortment of crows, sparrows, kingbirds, pheasants, and horned larks. Approximately 60 types of birds are have been recorded visiting the park or nesting in summer. At least 20 kinds of resident or transitory birds have been documented frequenting the park during wintertime.
Lake Kegonsa State Park is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., year-round. All vehicles require a park sticker ($7 daily, $25 annually for vehicles with Wisconsin tags. Dogs are permitted on leashes, and the park has a pet swim area. Much of the park is wheelchair accessible, from picnic tables and restrooms to an assist railing for lake entry at the beach.