Cannonball Path


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Cannonball Path Facts

States: Wisconsin
Counties: Dane
Length: 3.9 miles
Trail end points: Military Ridge State Trail south of Cottonwood Dr. (Fitchburg) and W. Beltline Frontage Rd. north of US 12/18 (Madison)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6129740
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking

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Cannonball Path Description

The Cannonball Path runs on a railbanked Union Pacific corridor from near downtown Madison to Fitchburg, a southern suburb. A majority of the paved trail is complete between Madison's Beltline—including a new bridge over the busy highway and its frontage road—and its terminus at the Military Ridge State Trail in Fitchburg.

The trail gently curves through the Arbor Hills neighborhood, which has been named "Tree City USA" by the Arbor Day Foundation for more than 17 years. And trees are what you'll find: the trail skirts the edge of the sprawling University of Wisconsin Arboretum, home to several deciduous forests.

At the west end of the Cannonball Path, trail users can hop on the 45-mile Military Ridge State Trail after first crossing a new trail bridge over McKee Road. Trail users should be aware that this section of the trail within Fitchburg city limits—the most recent to be completed—is also known as the Military Ridge Path and may be labeled as such on Fitchburg's bike map.

Near Arrowhead Park in Fitchburg, a junction with several popular trails offers a bounty of recreation options. Take the Southwest Commuter Path to directly reach downtown Madison and the main campus of the University of Wisconsin. A trip east on the Capital City State Trail instead takes trail users along a winding route, ultimately passing by Lake Monona and ending in Madison's northeastern neighborhoods. Alternatively, trekking south on the Badger State Trail from the trail junction will take you as far as the Illinois state line, where you can continue even farther south on Illinois' Jane Addams Trail to Freeport.

But that's not all: future plans call for the Cannonball Path to be extended north as a rail-with-trail to Fish Hatchery Road, and ultimately to Madison's Wingra Creek Path.

Parking and Trail Access

There are currently no dedicated parking lots for the Cannonball Path. Parking may be available along neighborhood streets in Fitchburg and Madison.

Cannonball Path Reviews

Rode from Dawley's Sanctuary on the Capital City Trail east. Took several tries to find the right path through Chicory Hills and I stumbled onto the Cannonball Path at the southeast corner of the Arboretum. Signage is indeed awful here. So many trails and offshoots and no idea where to go! But I headed west on Cannonball until we got the to hub where all the trails come together. I decided to keep going west and did the Military Ridge Trail until about 2 miles past Verona when it became sandy at Sugar River Wetlands, where I turned around. I rode all the way back and took Cannonball into some residential neighborhood near Rosecommon Park and had to use my Spidey sense to fine my way to home base. Cannonball is in great shape, easy ride, shady and lovely. Great for a road bike. Wish it were longer. Probably the best part of the ride.

I rode the Southwest Commuter trail from John Nolen Dr. to the "bike roundabout" where that trail, the Cannonball, the Badger, the Capital City, and Military Ridge spur come together. I didn't want to ride back the same way so I took this back. The scenery is very nice as much of the trail borders the UW Arboretum on the south side and it rolls through some wide prairies and marsh areas. It's also very fast going from Fitchburg back to Madison. There is a bit of an incline to get up to the bridge over Hwy 12/18, but the downhill is worth it. The trail ends at Fish Hatchery Road, but if you turn left in about a mile you'll hit the Wingra Creek trail and can head to Olin Park from there (which is also a pleasant surprise).

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