by Samantha Haas
on Friday, December 15th, 2017 at 9:46am.
As the area gets teased with traces of snow, there's still not enough on the ground to trade your hiking boots for snowshoes or cross country skis. But in Wisconsin that could quickly change, so be prepared for all sorts of weather conditions for these free outdoor nature events at local parks in Madison. After many of these leisurely and family-friendly walks, warm up by the campfire and sip hot chocolate. Don't forget your binoculars or camera!
Bird and Nature Outing When: 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, December 16 Where: Goodman Community Center, 149 Waubesa St., Madison What: Hike the bike trails and paths next to Starkweather Creek Area. Photo (above) credit: Goodman Community Center
Candlelit Hike When: 4:30-8 p.m. Saturday, December 16 Where: Aldo Leopold Nature Center, 330 Femrite Dr., Madison What: Hike along trails illuminated by hundreds of lights through the nature center and adjacent Edna Taylor Conservancy and Woodland Park, sit by the fire, get hot chocolate and popcorn. Parking: Free parking at UnityPoint Health, 6408 Copps Ave., and free shuttle to the event. Photo (below) credit: Greg Dixon
Bird and Nature Outing When: 1:30-3 p.m. Sunday, December 17 Where: Warner Park, 1625 Northport Dr., Madison What: Learn about what wildlife does in winter and listen to Aldo Leopold and John Muir readings by the campfire with hot chocolate.
Solstice Night Walk When: 4-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 20 Where: UW Arboretum, 1207 Seminole Highway, Madison What: Naturalist-led sunset walk on shortest day of the year.
Bird and Nature Outing When: 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, December 23 Where: Aldo Leopold Nature Center, 330 Femrite Dr., Madison What: Explore the Edna Taylor Conservation Park on this family-friendly walk.
Bird and Nature Outing When: 1:30-3 p.m. Sunday, December 24 Where: Lakeshore Preserve, 2002 University Bay Dr., Madison What: Look for woodpeckers and other birds in the trees and enjoy hot chocolate and marshmallows by the fire.
New Year's Eve Night Walk When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Sunday, December 31 Where: UW Arboretum, 1207 Seminole Highway, Madison What: Welcome in the new year with this naturalist-led outing, check out the visitor center, warm up with hot chocolate.
Bird and Nature Outing When: 2:30-4 p.m. Saturday, January 6 Where: Tenney Beach, 1330 Sherman Ave., Madison What: Naturalist Paul Noeldner leads this new walk along Lake Mendota and the Yahara River Parkway bike path through the Madison Isthmus.
Candlelight Walk When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Saturday, January 27 Where: Cherokee Marsh - North Unit, 6098 N. Sherman Ave., Madison What: Tour the marsh on three lighted trails and warm up with a hot drink by the fire.
Bird and Nature Outings are held most Saturdays and Sundays. For a full list, click here.