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Governor Nelson State ParkActivities and recreation

Hiking Hiking

In spring, summer and fall, hike 8.4 miles of trails through many diverse ecological communities including oak woodland and savannah and mesic and wet prairies. Wildflowers are abundant along the trails. Various animals can often be seen while hiking the trails. Also found on the hiking trails are two accessible viewing platforms with information panels.

Hiking Pets

Pets are permitted on the park hiking trails during summer. When trails are snow-covered, pets and hiking are allowed only on the Morningside multi-use trail. Pets must be kept on a leash no longer than 8 feet and be under physical control at all times. Owners must clean up any messes that their pets make.

There is a designated pet swim area north of the beach/picnic area located off the Morningside Trail. Pets must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet when they are not in the water.

Pets are not permitted at the swimming beach/picnic area, shelters or in any buildings.

Swimming Swimming

Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend the 500-foot sand beach will be marked with buoys for swimming. No lifeguards are on duty. No boats, sailboards or personal watercraft are allowed within the marked swim area and boaters must go slow-no-wake, within 100 feet of the swim buoys.

From mid-May through September, flush toilets are available at the beach and boat landing. October through mid-May, flush toilets are available at the boat landing. A pit toilet is available year-round in the Wakanda area.

Boat Launch Canoeing & Kayaking Boating, canoeing and kayaking

The park has a four-stall boat launch.

Picnicking Shelters Playgrounds Picnic areas and playgrounds

Grills are provided in the picnic area. Fires are not allowed at the park. If you bring your own grill, please use the receptacles in the picnic areas for your hot coals.

Fishing Fishing

Game fish and panfish are plentiful in Lake Mendota, allowing for year-round fishing. An accessible fishing pier next to the boat landing provides visitors with a great place to fish or just relax and enjoy the feel of the lake. A fish cleaning station is available in season.

Winter Activities Winter activities

In the winter, trails are tracked for diagonal skiers and groomed for skate skiers. Most are easy to moderate in difficulty. A few trails have hills with difficult turns. Hiking is not allowed when snow conditions are favorable to cross-country skiing.

No Hunting No Hunting No Hunting and trapping allowed in park

Hunting and trapping are not allowed at the property. For more information, please see:

Last revised: Wednesday July 05 2017