Walk: Lakeshore Nature Preserve: Effigy Mounds and Bird Migration

  • September 26, 2018
  • 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM
  • Frautschi Point parking lot
  • 0


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Lakeshore Nature Preserve: Effigy Mounds and Bird Migration

About the Preserve

The 300-acre Lakeshore Nature Preserve stretches for 4.3 miles along the south shore of Lake Mendota on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus–from the Hasler Limnology Laboratory on the east to the Village of Shorewood Hills on the west. The preserve includes two historical features: Frautschi Point snd Picnic Point.

The Walk

Gisela Kutzbach, who lead us on last years popular August walk in the Preserve, will again lead us through the Nature Preserve, together with co-leader and birding enthusiast Chuck Henrikson.  You will see a different part of the preserve, during a different season and hear new stories. The themes for this walk will be effigy mounds, early use of the land, birds that can be found in the preserve, bird migration through the Preserve as they rest up on their travels to their winter grounds and some basic geology of this fascinating landscape.  All of this in the middle of our city and university.

We will meet at Frautschi Point parking lot.  There is a new path from Frautschi Point parking lot that will give us quick access into the Preserve and toward Picnic Point, via the effigy mounds.


Our leaders will have directional microphones to assist in delivering the message clearly as possible.  The microphones have added greatly to the quality of the conversations as we walk and make informational stops along the way.

What to Expect on the Walk

Length & Pace of Walk

The pace will be moderate with stops for education about the effigy mounds, local geology and bird migration.  The walk will be about a 3 mile walk.  The walk will take about 2.5 hours.  The length of the walk and the time it takes to complete the walk will depend on the informational stops we make along the way. 

Walk Difficulty

A three mile walk along a several trails along mixed hilly and flat terrain. There will be opportunities to shorten or lengthen the path, depending on group interests and abilities.

On a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is very  steep, the trails are rated 2.5.  

Handicap Accessibility?

The trails are not particularly handicap accessible.  They may be manageable with someone to assist you.  Please call me at 608 257-9164 to further evaluate the trails

Driving and Parking Information: 

We will meet at Frautschi Point parking lot to start our walk.  The following directions will help guide you to the trailhead parking lot.

Directions to Frautschi Point Parking Area:

From the campus, take University Bay Drive towards the entrance to Picnic Point, and continue on a short distance, make the right hand turn onto Lake Mendota Drive.  Drive about 0.2 miles up hill to where Lake Mendota Drive curves sharply to the left. The Frautschi Point parking area is on the right at the curve.

From University Avenue, take University Bay Drive at light at Farley St., go up the hill, and sharp left at the top of the hill onto continuation of University Bay Drive (Highland Ave. continues straight). Continue down along soccer fields, then take left onto Lake Mendota Drive, across from soccer fields. Turn left onto Lake Mendota Drive, drive about 0.2 miles up hill to where Lake Mendota Drive curves sharply to the left. The Frautschi Point parking area is on the right at the curve.

Additional parking is available by the University housing, across the road.

Attached is a sketched map showing how to get to Frautschi Point. The map is available at the Lakeshore Nature Preserve website (lakeshorenaturepreserve.com) under Trails.

Frautschi Pt Map009.pdf

To learn more about Lakeshore Preserve Nature Area, go to the following website:  https://lakeshorepreserve.wisc.edu/visit/places/picnic-point/

Highlights of the Walk

Native Americans and the Preserve

For more than 12,000 years, Native peoples have lived on the land that is today the UW-Madison campus. Evidence of this long human occupation is inscribed all across the campus landscape. Earthen burial mounds, including unique effigy forms constructed over 1000 years ago, can be visited in several parts of the Preserve. Learn about the more than 40 archaeological sites across campus.


In the Madison of 50,000 years ago, the Yahara River flowed sweetly at the bottom of a steep river valley perhaps as much as 600 feet deep. Resilient sandstone layers formed extensive ledges and spring fed streams issued from limestone caves to cascade to the river far below. Incredibly, a natural event of unimaginable scale literally wiped this entire ecosystem from the face of the Earth—glaciers.

 geology map of Dane County


Hydrology and hydrologic process within and around the Preserve greatly influence the quality and health of its diverse biotic communities. Additionally, the Willow Creek Watershed—which is much larger than most people realize—has a substantial impact on the quality of water in Willow Creek and University Bay.

 Willow Creek watershed map


Prairies are grasslands dominated by native grasses associated with a diverse assemblage of flowering herbaceous plants known as forbs. UW-Madison's Biocore Program has been carrying out tallgrass prairie restoration in the Preserve in the field between Picnic Point and the Eagle Heights Community Gardens since 1997.

 prescribed fire in Biocore Prairie


Wetlands have water at or just above the surface of the soil for much if not all of the year. Known for a distinctive set of plants, wetlands support a wide variety of animals, and provide essential services such as flood and stormwater abatement and water quality management. The Preserve has two major natural wetlands—Picnic Point Marsh and University Bay Marsh—as well as a wetland restoration, the Class of 1918 Marsh.

 sandhill cranes in Class of 1918 Marsh


The Woods in the Preserve typify the broadleaf forest common to relatively moist, upland sites in southern Wisconsin. You'll find a common set of tree species occupying the overstory throughout the woods, but the relative abundance of each varies with slope and aspect (the direction the slope faces). Common species include Bur oak, White oak, Northern red oak, Shagbark hickory, Slippery elm, Hackberry, White ash, Black cherry and Basswood.


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