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Capital Springs State Recreation Area

The DNR and Dane County cooperatively operate and manage Capital Springs State Recreation Area. Capital Springs and the adjacent Lake Farm County Park offer several recreation opportunities.


The Capital City State Trail winds through Capital Springs State Recreation Area. There is direct access to the trail at the campground in Lake Farm County Park near the Lussier Family Heritage Center. The paved trail is popular for bicycling and connects to several other city of Madison and state trails.

Boating, canoeing and kayaking

The boat launch is open year-round. Each vehicle parked in the boat launch parking area must have a lake access permit. Self-registration is available at the launch. Valid lake access permits include:

  1. Dane County Lake Access Permit [exit DNR]
  2. Wisconsin State Park Vehicle Admission Sticker
  3. Wisconsin Conservation Patron License

Note: If you have Conservation Patron License but no sticker, you may write your name, patron license number and date on a daily permit from the kiosks and display the receipt in the lower left corner of your windshield. Don't forget to put the envelope portion into the pay tube.


Dane County's Lake Farm Park, adjacent to Capital Springs, offers camping. To reserve a campsite, see the Dane County Parks website [exit DNR] or call 608-224-3730.


Fishing is available in Lake Waubesa. Fishing licenses apply. The Jenni and Kyle Preserve, part of Capital Springs State Recreation Area, is a fully accessible park between State Highway 14 and Fish Hatchery Road. The preserve was established as a park to be accessible and enjoyed by all children. Fishing is restricted to children age 14 and under and adults with disabilities.


There are over 6 miles of hiking trails and boardwalks at Capital Springs. Some trails contain interpretive signs along the way to help visitors learn about the surrounding area. Birding is excellent throughout the year due to the variety of natural habitat.

Hunting and trapping

Hunting and trapping are allowed in the open areas of the park during the Wisconsin state parks hunting and trapping time frame. Trapping is not permitted in closed areas as noted on the park hunting map or within 100 yards of any designated use area, including trails. Certain trap types are restricted on state park properties. For more information, please see:


All pets must be on leash 8 feet or shorter and under control at all times. A Dane County Pet permit is required and can be purchased at the E-Way, Heritage Center or Shelter #1 trailhead kiosks.

Picnic areas

There are several large picnic and playground areas near Lake Waubesa. Three shelters are available for reservations.

Winter activities

During winter, 6 miles of trails are groomed for cross-country skiing. Hikers, snowshoers and pets are asked to remain off trails when they are snow-covered and groomed.

The boat launch area provides access to Lake Waubesa for ice fishing. Staff do not monitor ice conditions on the lake.