Upcoming events

    • July 09, 2018
    • 7:30 AM
    • October 31, 2018
    • 11:30 AM
    • Various Locations and Times


    Walk The Trails and 

    Parks 

    of Dane County

    Through Oct.


    Please register for each walk.




    Join PLATO friends in a series of walks beginning in May and continuing through October.  We hope newcomers and experienced park visitors will find something new about some Dane County and Madison favorites.  We’ll walk several segments of the Ice Age Trail, some of Dane County and Madison’s Conservancy parks and perhaps one of your favorites—if you tell us what it is.  We intend to have leisurely paced walks of 2 to 3 miles while learning about the local geologic, historic and, perhaps, migratory significance of the areas.

    • Indian Lake County Park, July 9, 2018.  A varied landscape, beautiful throughout the year.
    • Pleasant Valley Conservancy SNA,  July 25, 2018.  Restored Oak Savana, one of the rarest landscapes.
    • Schumacher Farm Park, early August, 2018.  Conserving a way of life on farm and prairie.
    • Edna Taylor Conservation Park & Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Monona, late August, 2018
    • Lakeshore Nature Preserve, September 26. 1000 acres of land along the Mondota Shoreline including Picnic Point and Frautschi Point.
    • Olin Park/Turville Point Conservation Park, early-October
    • Stewart Lake county Park, mid-October

    Each of the walks will be lead by a Naturalist and/or a member of the Friends group who can tell us about the significance of the land and the efforts taken to restore and care for it.

    There is no charge for the walks but we ask that you register so we are able to send you last minute information about cancellations, driving and parking instruction.

    To register for a specific walk, choose the appropriate link, above.  More walks will be added throughout the season.


    Often, we meet after the walk for lunch.

    • July 25, 2018
    • 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    • 4609 Pleasant Valley Rd, Black Earth, WI 53515
    • 23
    Register

    We no longer charge for "Walks of Dane County"

    Please register for the walk so we can send you reminders and last minute change


    Pleasant Valley Conservancy State Natural Area



    ?Cancellation due to rain or excessive heat?

    I will send an email the evening before the walk with information about cancellatioin due to severe weather (wet, heat, etc.).  


    About your Guides: Kathie and Tom Brock

    Our guides for the walk are Kathie and tom Brock owners who have devoted much of their adult lives to restoring and caring for this land.  We will hear a little bit about their lives as they  relate stories about their vision for the land and devotion to restoration work.

    About the Walk:

    The walk will climb a ridge, continue along the ridge for about 3/4 mile and then return down a trail the cuts across the slope.  We will have options of riding a small off-road vehicle for those who could use an assist traveling both up and down the sloping trail.  There are also trails at the base of the hill, following a stream as an alternative route. 

    The views from atop the ridge are beautiful. The trails permit excellent views of the whole conservancy. The trails use in part mowed trails and the rest use the ridge-top service road and fire breaks.

    The walk will cover about 2 miles over rolling terrain (sometimes steep) and include a few stops as we hear about the various biomes and the life long work of Kathie and Tom to restore the land.

     About the Conservancy:

    Pleasant Valley Conservancy State Natural Area No. 551 is a 140 acre Preserve in western Dane County, Wisconsin. It consists of extensive restored oak savannas, dry, mesic, and wet prairies, wetlands, and oak woods. Scenic views and wildlife viewing are excellent, and several trails provide ready access to the Preserve. Especially noteworthy at Pleasant Valley are the fine restored oak savannas, once common in the Midwest but now very rare. The Preserve has many large open-grown white and bur oaks, which can be viewed from Pleasant Valley Road, and seen close up from the trails. The herbaceous layer in the savanna is highly diverse.

    The Preserve provides excellent habitat for cavity-nesting birds, including red-headed woodpeckers, a characteristic bird of oak savannas. Red-heads breed in the Preserve and can frequently be seen from the upper ridge trail. Breeding bird surveys have found around 70 species, including a number of rare and/or interesting species.

    Over 300 species of flowering plants have been recorded, including several rare ones.

    Purple milkweed, a species endangered in Wisconsin, is found extensively in the savanna areas and is thriving. Other plant species found here that are threatened or of special concern include: upland boneset, cream gentian, glade mallow, yellow giant hyssop, prairie turnip, and sweet Indian plantain.

    Pleasant Valley Conservancy is a site of The Prairie Enthusiasts (TPE), an organization active in the upper Midwest. Part of the Conservancy is owned by TPE and the rest is permanently protected by a conservation easement donated to TPE by Kathie and Tom Brock.

     
    Driving & Parking:

    Pleasant Valley Conservancy State Natural Area

    4609 Pleasant Valley Rd, Black Earth, WI 53515

    The Conservancy is about 4 miles southwest of the Village of Black Earth. Go west from Black Earth on County Highway F and continue south on F until Pleasant Valley Road. Turn left on Pleasant Valley Road. The preserve will be on both sides of the road . Continue past the steep hillside (large prairie remnant) until you reach an open area and walking trail entrance (about ¾ mile east on Pleasant Valley Road from the junction with County F). (Fire number 4554 Pleasant Valley Road.) Cars should be parked off the road facing the entrance

    1 min (0.4 mi)

    A google map is provided starting downtown Madison.  Change the starting address to tailor the driving instructions.


     Questions? Contact Mike Di Iorio @ mdiiorio1234@gmail.com or 608  520 4448.

     

     

       


    • August 07, 2018
    • 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM (EDT)
    • Parking lot on Schumacher Road, off of WI-19, Waunakee, WI 53597
    • 28

    We no longer charge for "Walks of Dane County"


    Please register for the walk so we can send you reminders and last minute change




    ?Cancellation due to rain or excessive heat?

    I will send an email the evening before the walk with information about cancellatioin due to severe weather (wet, heat, etc.).  


    ?Cancellation due to rain or excessive heat?

    I will send an email the evening before the walk with information about cancellation due to severe weather (wet, heat, etc.).  Mike


    The Farm

    This 40-acre farmstead with trails leading through a 10-acre prairie restoration project sits on a hilltop, with a view of the state capital, just east of Waunakee. The original farmhouse and barn built by Henry Schumacher in 1908 is accompanied by outbuildings of the same era, donated to the park from local farms.

    Volunteers tend the chickens and harvest the heirloom garden. They also coordinate antique farming demonstrations for workshops and public events

    This beautiful piece of land was gifted to the Dane County Parks Commission in 1978 by Marcella Schumacher Pendall, the only child of Henry Schumacher. She was born on the property, traveled the world, and returned home to teach Spanish and Ancient History at Waunakee high school for thirty years.  


    The Walk

    The trails are mowed 4-6 foot wide through a hilled prairie, around and through a woods.  The climbing difficulty is moderate while the distance is 2 miles.  We will stop often to hear historical and geographical information from a member of the Friends of Shumacher Farm Park.

    The Friends of Schumacher Farm have a two-part mission:

    • To preserve life ways of rural Dane County through education and restoration.
    • To maintain a conservancy


     
    Driving & Parking:

    Directions 

    Schumacher Farm Park is located on the top of a hill on County Hwy 19 just east of Waunakee, Wisconsin.  Please park in the large lot off of Schumacher Road.

    From the East: We are across the highway from the Industrial park water tower, which you will see as you are coming into Waunakee on Hwy 19. Go past the Farm house on the right to the bottom of the hill and a stop signal; turn right at the intersection onto Q/Schumacher Road. Park in the large parking field on your right.

    From the West: Make the left turn at the intersection of Hwy 19 and Q/Schumacher Road.  Make the first right into the large parking field on Schumacher Road. 

    Accessibility

    Handicapped parking is available next to the house. The house is not handicapped accessible by modern standards. There is an uneven stone walkway leading to the house, but there is also a wheelchair ramp. The grounds are grass with uneven footing. Please be careful!


     Questions? Contact Mike Di Iorio @ mdiiorio1234@gmail.com or 608  520 4448.

     

     

       


    • August 22, 2018
    • 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM
    • 1156 Olin-Turville Ct.
    • 35


    No charge for "Walks of Dane County"

    Please register for the walk so we can send you reminders and last minute change


    Edna Taylor Conservancy & Aldo Leopold Nature Center



    Edna Taylor Conservancy

    A glacial drumlin rising above a broad ribbon of marsh forms the backbone of this southeast Madison Park.  On-going projects are oak savanna and wetland restorations.  Nearby Glendale School and Leopold Nature Center use the park extensively for environmental education.

    Conservation Parks are uniquely managed to further protect native species and wildlife. The following rules apply to all conservation designated parks.

    Tucked off Monona Drive and Femrite Drive, Edna Taylor Conservation Park offers three out-and-back hiking loops, a spring, marsh habitat, a glacial drumlin, oak stands, nature viewing platforms, and a Native American effigy mound. The area incorporates a little more than 3 miles of trails; the scenery is comprised of wetlands, willows, oak forest, ponds, savanna, and a handsome assortment of wildflowers. At the corner of the parking lot a large memorial stone dedicated to Edna Taylor denotes the trail’s beginnings.

    The trail starts in between high grass and pretty marshland, and is easy to follow and well-maintained throughout. Birders will have exciting field days watching Canadian geese, cranes, herons, and mallards. Redwing and tricolor birds are abundant in the marshy ponds, and the surrounding shrubbery is especially comely in the fall. Raspberries abound in the fields in July. Observation platforms at the edge of the ponds are great for spotting water fowl. It’s common in the springtime to spy tiny Canada geese chicks and tadpoles.On the east side of the park are six linear Indian effigy mounds and one panther-shaped mound, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Edna Taylor Conservation Park abuts the equally enjoyable Aldo Leopold Park; wedged in the thickness of evergreens, a sign denotes the change of parks. Trail traffic is generally pretty light, and the park is open 4 a.m. to 1 hour before sunset. Restrooms and water are available at the park office during those hours.



    Aldo Leopold Nature Center

    Established in 1994, the Aldo Leopold Nature Center (ALNC) is an independent, non-profit organization. Through hands-on interactive programs and special exhibits, ALNC is leading the way to engage, educate and empowerthe next generation of stewards of the land for a healthy, happy, and sustainable future. ALNC offers many opportunities for you and your family to connect with nature both indoors and out. In addition to our special events and education programsour indoor children’s exhibits provide a special place for your child to learn about Monarch Butterflies and Prairies, Native Fish and Wetlands and Woodlands. Visit our Exhibit Hall to learn about climate, weather and earth science using high-tech, interactive features found nowhere else in the region. Head outside and explore our wetland, woodland and prairie trails, open sun-up to sun-down, 7 days a week!  Sign your child up for our Wonder Bugspreschool programs, vacation day nature programs and home schoolprograms for ages 5-12, or summer camps for ages 2-16. See you on the trails!

    Walk-in visitors, along with program participants and students, will continue to have access to our interactive theaters, our digital touchscreen curriculum, renewable energy displays, and our hands-on Leopold Family Phenology Center, along with our lobby Nature Nooks and our outdoor interpretive trails. Plus, we will continue improving drop-in and self-guided offerings for our visitors, including re-vamped Family Trailside Backpacks, identification guides and trail maps, and educational merchandise geared towards connecting and engaging visitors and families with our local habitats, flora, and fauna. And, using our grounds, phenology, Leopold teachings, and interactive multimedia curricula, we are continuing to integrate age-appropriate climate change education across our programming to help children understand these impacts, how their actions affect the environment, and how they can enact solutions to ecological challenges.


    Edna Taylor Conservation Park Directions

    From the Beltline Highway (US 12/18), drive north on Monona Drive 0.6 miles and hook a right on Femrite Drive. The parking lot for Edna Taylor Conservancy Park is on the left about 0.4 miles from Monona Drive. To the right of the parking is the easily identifiable trailhead. The entry to the Aldo Leopold Nature Center is also on the left side, approximately 1,000 feet from Monona Drive.





    • September 26, 2018
    • 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
    • Picnic Point Parking Lot
    • 33
    Register

    We no longer charge for "Walks of Dane County"


    Please register for the walk so we can send you reminders and last minute change

    Lakeshore Nature Preserve


    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

    We should see some migratory birds. In addition we will focus on Effigy mounds and the geology of the area and lake. This walk would be a loop including Picnic Point. Meeting point would be Picnic Point parking lot. 

    We will be led by two knowledgeable guides,  Gisela Kutzbach (member, Lakeshore Nature Preserve Friends group) and a bird specialist who will tell us something about the Spring and Fall migration through the Preserve.


    What to Expect on the Walk

    Quality of the Path/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. 


    Hill Rating

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

    Quality of trail footing

    On a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 represents very difficult footing, the trails we will follow are rated a 2.0.

    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.

    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

    Microphone

    Our leader will have a microphone along to assist in delivering her message clearly as possible.

    Driving and Parking Information: 

    We will use the Picnic Point Parking lot to start our walk.


    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.


    Geology

    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

    Watershed

    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

    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

    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

    Woodlands

    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.


    • October 08, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
    • 1156 Olin-Turville Ct.
    • 35


    We no longer charge for "Walks of Dane County"


    Please register for the walk so we can send you reminders and last minute change

    Turville Point Conservation Park


    Olin Park Details

    Offering some of the best views of downtown Madison, Olin Park, located on the shores of Lake Monona is convenient, accessible and affordable. The reservable restored historic pavilion is perfect for events and seats up to approximately 150 guests. 

    There are an abundance of recreational outlets for the entire family such as a soccer field, baseball diamond, walking paths, and playground equipment.  Swim or soak up some sun on the welcoming beach, take an enjoyable jog on the trail, or go biking through the park and up and around the Capitol.  Adjacent to Olin Park is an expansive Turville Point Conservation Park, where you can relish in a majestic nature walk, go cross-country skiing, or hiking.  It is easy to retreat to Olin Park with its central location and convenience to the Beltline, Capital City and Wingra bike trails, bus routes, and a boat launch. 


    Turville Point Conservation Park

    This natural gem borders the shores of Lake Monona, a short walk from downtown.  Large red, bur and white oak provide the canopy under which a variety of spring wildflowers bloom.  A seven acre prairie opening adds to the diversity of the site.  Adjacent to Olin Park which has restrooms and a parking lot. 

    Features 2.3 miles of trails









    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

    We should see some migratory birds. In addition we will focus on Effigy mounds and the geology of the area and lake. This walk would be a loop including Picnic Point. Meeting point would be Picnic Point parking lot. 

    We will be led by two knowledgeable guides,  Gisela Kutzbach (member, Lakeshore Nature Preserve Friends group) and a bird specialist who will tell us something about the Spring and Fall migration through the Preserve.


    What to Expect on the Walk

    Quality of the Path/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. 


    Hill Rating

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

    Quality of trail footing

    On a scale of 1 to 5 where 5 represents very difficult footing, the trails we will follow are rated a 2.0.

    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.

    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

    Microphone

    Our leader will have a microphone along to assist in delivering her message clearly as possible.

    Driving and Parking Information: 

    We will use the Picnic Point Parking lot to start our walk.


    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.


    Geology

    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

    Watershed

    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

    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

    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

    Woodlands

    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.


    • October 31, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
    • 3101 County Highway JG Mt. Horeb, WI 53572
    • 35

    No charge 

    "Walks of Dane County"

    Please register for the walk so we can send you reminders and last minute change


    Stewart Lake County Park




    Stewart Lake County Park

    Stewart Lake County Park was established in 1935, making it the first County Park in Dane County. Within this 191-acre park is shimmering Stewart Lake, an artificial lake on spring-fed tributary of Moen Creek. The lake offers a challenge for trout and bass fishing. Recreational facilities include picnic shelters, play equipment, hiking trails, and a beach area (no lifeguard on duty).  Please note that gas motors are not allowed on Stewart Lake (electric motors are permitted). Stewart Lake County Park can be reached by traveling north on County Highway JG from Main Street in the Village of Mt. Horeb.

    For information about the water quality at the beach, please visit the Stewart Lake County Park Beach website from Public Health Madison and Dane County.

    Trailhead and Parking Instructions

    3101 County Highway JG
    Mt. Horeb, WI 53572
    Get Directions

 

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For more info about PLATO contact:

Louise Fowler
UW-Madison Continuing Studies
21 N. Park St, 7th Floor, Madison, WI 53715

Email: info@platomadison.org
Phone: 608-262-5823
Fax: 608-265-4555

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