What to Expect
The Pope Farm Conservancy
"Come out to Pope Farm Conservancy and get acquainted with a wonderful Town of Middleton treasure! The Pope Farm Conservancy is a unique location with the focus on learning about the land, past and present. We’ll walk over grassy and limestone trails and learn about the local archeology, farming, geology and natural history. This is one of the high points in our area, and we will walk where three different watersheds meet. The story of this land and the people involved should delight and inspire you.
The view from the top of the hill is spectacular, from the flowering prairies to the view of Lake Mendota and the Capitol. We’ll see the sunflower field just a few weeks before peak flowering, as well as several other crops. Erosion has always been a concern, and we’ll visit the Spillway built by the Civilian Conservation Corp which has saved the North Slope from serious damage.
Please wear close toed shoes and dress for the weather, which is usually windy and more extreme than the surrounding area."
A Few Words From Our Guide: Bibliography
"Stephanie was born in Washington, D.C., and is one of six children raised in the Maryland suburbs. She received her Degree in Geology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has been in the Madison area since 2002. She has been part of the Rock Ladies of Madison since 2003, supporting Earth Science programs for schools and other groups. Stephanie has been a naturalist at the UW Arboretum since 2007, working with the Earth Focus Day Camp, leading private tours and assisting with Families programs. Stephanie has developed curriculum and was on the Friends of Pheasant Branch Education committee for ten years, was on the Board for the Friends of Pope Farm Conservancy as the Education Committee Chair, and is currently on the Reviewing Board of Geologists, Hydrologists, and Soil Scientists for the Department of Safety and Professional Services.
Stephanie lives in Middleton with her husband and has two adult children living in the Madison area. She enjoys singing, sewing, photography, and being outdoors and sharing her love of local natural history and science with others."
Normally, the fields of Sun Flowers are ready to bloom in early August. This year, however, the field needed to be replanted, pushing the date of Sun Flower Days back at least two weeks.
Things to See & Do
See the tremendous abundance of grassland birds that feed on the Prairies, Sunflowers, Sorghum, Winter Wheat, and Oats. Some of these species are rare.
Stand on top of three different watersheds to enjoy the view of Lake Mendota, the Capitol, and Black Earth Creek Valley.
GEOLOGY & GLACIER FORMATIONS
Learn how the glacier formed Pope Farm Conservancy 10,000 to 15,000 years ago. View three different recessional moraines, three watersheds, and thousands of rocks that give you a feeling of the power of the glacier that once covered the land.
Learn about 12,000 years of human history in this area. Find out where Indian villages, trails, campsites, and burial sites were located.
NATIVE AMERICAN GARDEN
Study a replica of a 1,000 year old Native American garden, and how their knowledge contributed to agriculture.
LOG CABIN SITE
Follow the route of German immigrants from Mecklenburg to the Town of Middleton in the 1800’s. Learn who they were and how they lived.
Walk seven miles of trails through crops, prairie, and woodlands. Trail signs will guide you along the way. Click Here for a detailed trail map.
Picnic on top of three different watersheds and enjoy a 360 degree panoramic view of the area including; Lake Mendota, the Capitol, and Black Earth Creek Valley.
Walk along an historic stone fence built over 150 years ago when settlers cleared the glacial debris from the land.
Watch the ongoing process of restoring the land to 6 different prairies including an Oak Savanna.
See a variety of crops including Sunflowers. Learn what they are, where they come from and how they are used.
Observe how erosion is being controlled today by the work done by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930’s. Who was the CCC, what did they do, and why were they here?
Interpretive signage will guide you through Pope Farm Conservancy to enhance your visit. Click Herefor a list of our existing signage.
Why a $10 fee for this walk?
PLATO charges a $10 fee for each walk. We normally use a guide who is a member of the associated friends group. PLATO then will pass this registration fee onto the friends group as a way of saying thanks.
The main entrance is 2 miles west of the Beltline (Hwy 12/18) on Old Sauk Road.
- Lower Parking Lot: The lower parking lot is open from sunrise to sunset for people who want to hike from the entrance. We will be using this parking lot for our walk.
- Upper Parking Lot: The upper parking lot can be used by the elderly, disabled, and families with small children. The Upper Parking Lot closes one half hour before sunset. This lot is closed during the winter season. We will not use this parking lot since it closes before our walk ends.
Bike racks are available at the Old Sauk and Upper Parking lots. No biking is allowed on the trails.
Map & Directions