Upcoming events

    • July 26, 2019
    • 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    • 3101 County Highway JG Mt. Horeb, WI 53572
    • 8

    Free to PLATO members and guests.

    Registration is recommended.

    This walk features Oak Openings, Savannas and Prairies overlooking Stewart Lake

    On the edge of Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, an earthen Dam holds back the waters of Moen Creek, forming Stewart Lake.  The lake is surrounded by wooded hills and flowering prairies.

    The Walk

    Our walk will take us through woods, prairies currently in full flower, and savannas at a leisurely pace.  We'll take time to enjoy overlooks and try to identify some of the plants and birds we'll see. The walk will take about 2 hours and cover approximately two and a half miles.  This park has long been a favorite of ours and you'll find it quite beautiful.

    Lunch at Sjolinds Chocolate House

    Following our walk, those interested in lunching together will reconvene at this charming restaurant on 219 East Main St. in Mt. Horeb.  They serve soups, sandwiches, pastries and, of course, chocolate in a myriad of forms.  We will be seated at separate tables and we would like to know ahead of time if you will be joining us so we can alert the staff.  Please tell us by Thursday if you plan to lunch there so we can alert the staff.  Their menu can be found at:


    Lunch Alternative 

    Alternatively, you may prefer to bring a lunch and eat at the park shelter above the swimming beach.  Facilities include the shelter, picnic tables, drinking fountain (you know, a bubbler) and porta-potty.

    About 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). 

    Trailhead and Parking Instructions

    Stewart Lake County Park can be reached by traveling north on County Highway JG from Main Street in the Village of Mt. Horeb.

    3101 County Highway JG

    Mt. Horeb, WI 53572

    • August 21, 2019
    • 8:30 AM - 11:00 AM
    • Parking lot at Orchid Heights Park, 3960 Valley Ridge Road, Middleton.
    • 0
    Join waitlist

    Free to PLATO members and guests.

    Registration is recommended.

    Amy Rosebrough will lead us through portions of the Conservancy to Native American Effigy Mounds and talk about what they reveal about the early cultures that lived in the area thousands of years ago. She will explain the significance of their shapes, what these mounds meant to the people who built them, and the importance of maintaining these structures. According to Ms. Rosebrough, Wisconsin is home to more Native American earthworks than any other place in the world.  Dane County has more Effigy Mounds than any other location in the world.  During our walk, Amy will present an overview of the monumental earthen creations of Wisconsin and the Midwest, from burial mounds to ceremonial geometric earthen enclosures.

    Dr. Amy Rosebrough is a Middleton resident, a staff archaeologist with the State Archaeology and Maritime Preservation Program of Wisconsin Historical Society, and an alumna of UW-Madison. She is a specialist in Wisconsin's effigy mounds, and assists Wisconsin citizens with issues of archaeological and burial site preservation.

    The Walk

    Pheasant Branch Conservancy is a regionally significant natural area located on the north side of Middleton, Wisconsin. It contains a marsh with open water, springs, prairies, meadows, lowland forest, and wooded hills. 

    The diverse topography of the 160 acre site provides panoramic as well as close up views of prairies, wooded hillsides, the Pheasant Branch Creek wetlands and several predominant springs that provide fresh water for Lake Mendota. 

    A relatively flat walkway with some stretches of slight elevation will lead us around a portion of the perimeter of the conservancy. However, we will need to climb Fredricks Hill to view the effigy mounds of the Conservancy. 

    Driving and Parking Information

    We will meet in the parking lot at Orchid Heights Park, 3960 Valley Ridge Road, Middleton.  DIRECTIONS

    Additional Information:

    Several maps of the conservancy are available at the Friends of Pheasant Branch website:  http://www.pheasantbranch.org/

    • A three mile walk along a graded path makes this walk one of the more accessible we'll offer this year.  However the route we will follow will involve climbing Fredrick's Hill to view the effigy mounds.


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

    Driving and Parking Information.

    • will be emailed the week of the walk.

    Additional Information:

    The Watershed

    Pheasant Branch Watershed* drains into Lake Mendota. It covers approximately 24 square miles in an area that includes portions of the Towns of Middleton and Springfield and the Cities of Madison and Middleton. (See map on page 5.)

    As the last glaciers began to melt about 13,000 years ago, much of the land west of present-day Highway 12 drained into the bed of Glacial Lake Middleton, the wetland flat along Airport Road in Middleton.

    Today, Pheasant Branch originates out of a glacial moraine in the Towns of Middleton and Springfield, and flows through the City of Middleton before entering Lake Mendota. The seven-mile long creek has four distinct parts: the South and North Forks upstream from and west of Highway 12, and the upper and lower portions of the main channel.

    • September 16, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 11:00 AM
    • Old Sauk Pass Rd., Cross Plains
    • 19


    Free to PLATO members and guests.

    Registration is recommended.

    Wilkie Gorge of Cross Plains National Scientific Reserve

    Description of the Reserve:

    The area represents a world-renowned example of the interface of glaciated and unglaciated terrain.  The relationship between Johnstown Moraine and glaciated landscapes on one side of the Moraine and unglaciated bedrock landscapes on the other side is strikingly exhibited.  Oak savanna, oak forests, wetlands and prairies cover the area.           

    Walk length and difficulty:

    • We will hike several areas of the reserve including wooded ridge top and open prairie in restoration. 
    • We will aim at about 2.5 miles but the exact routes will be determined by participants as we go. 
    • The unmarked trails are of easy/moderate to moderate difficulty but totally unsuited for the use of walkers.  A walking stick might be helpful in some areas.   
    • For the hearty who are shod in hiking boots there is the option of a steep climb down and up the gorge.

    Points of interest:

    • The main attraction is to discover a “world-renowned example of the interface of glaciated and unglaciated terrain.”
    • The Ice Age Complex at Cross Plains is a compilation of federal, state and county land near the village of Cross Plains, Wisconsin. Currently there is about 750 acres of public land available for recreation. The entire proposed project boundary encompasses about 1,500 acres. The complex is open year-round from sunrise to sunset daily. The properties are closed to visitors after dark.

    What to bring:

    Remember to dress according to the weather & walking limitations.   Bring water.  We will introduce the site and walk a few trails under most mild weather conditions.  A walking stick might be useful.  We will have two leaders, so we will walk in two separate groups, ensuring that we have a good experience.


    • Go west on University Avenue towards Middleton. 
    • Continue on Hwy. 14 approximately 4.5 miles past the underpass with the Beltline Highway to a left turn on Cleveland Road.   
    • Stay on it .9 mile to where it deadends. 
    • Turn right onto Old Sauk Pass Rd. and continue .7 mile.
    • Park along the road near a metal gate across from the first farmhouse on the left side of the road. 
    •  Please don’t block the driveway of the old stone farmhouse on the left. 
    • Note: There are no public restrooms or drinking water facilities so be prepared.


In partnership with


Please Help

Make a onetime or recurring,
tax deductible contribution.

For more info about PLATO contact:

PLATO Office Operations, ATTN: Edie or Louise
c/o 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

PLATO is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization

Website by 34fiveSolutions.com

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software