Lake Monona is the second largest lake in Madison, behind Lake Mendota, with an area of 3,359 acres and a max depth of 74 feet. In the summer you will see tons of kayakers, paddleboarders, and canoers enjoying the water, and plenty of sailboats on windy days. Lake Monona is also great for fishing. It is home to Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike, Walleye, Sturgeon, and Catfish.
There are plenty of parks and beaches to take advantage of if you don’t want to be out on the water. Below is a map of some of the great parks and beaches of Lake Monona, labeled with green and blue markers. The orange markers note some of the main public boat landings where you can gain access to the lake.
If you like to bike, the Monona Loop is just for you. Bike along the lake on an 11-mile circuit that takes you through many different neighborhoods of Madison. The bike path along John Nolen is a popular spot to get some exercise as you get a nice breeze from the lake. Make sure not to miss out on Loop the Lake, which is a popular yearly event put together by the Clean Lakes Alliance and is a fun way to support the great lakes of Madison.
In the winter, when the lake has frozen over, you will see a lot of ice fishing going on. This is especially true on Monona Bay, which stays frozen much longer than the lake. It will usually be packed on nice winter days and is a great spot to go if you like ice fishing.
Lake Monona Events
Lake Monona plays host to several events throughout the year. Below are some of the big ones:
Shake the Lake – Sadly due to COVID-19, it will not be happening this year.
Frozen Assets Festival – Put on by the Clean Lakes Alliance every winter.
Concerts on the Rooftop – Also shut down for 2020 due to COVID-19.
IRONMAN – Canceled for 2020.
Loop the Lake – Also, put on by the Clean Lakes Alliance and canceled for 2020 as well.
And finally, here is a good resource for Monona Lake and Terrace events.