• Home
  • Self-Guided Walks Dane County in the Days of COVID-19

Self-Guided Walks Dane County in the Days of COVID-19

  • April 27, 2020
  • November 01, 2020
  • Various Municipal Parks, Conservancies and Ice Age Trails in Dane County
  • 1

I have collected information about walks that were popular as Guided Walks.

Please observe  Social Distancing restrictions.

The self-guided walks listed below are meant for your enjoyment during our time of dealing with the COVID-19 Virus.  Please adhere to all Municipal and State requirements for Social Distancing and Healthy behavior on public paths.  Please do not plan to meet with people other than your household members.

The Restrooms are not available;  they are locked.  There are no staff in the parks and on the trails to assist you.  Please stay safe by remaining on the trails and observing the conditions of the trails. Use common sense when confronting obstacles and slippery paths.

The Walks are derived from popular Docent Guided Walks offered by PLATO over the last four years.  I have provided the following information for each walk:

  • Brief description of what is unique about the park;
  •  Brief description of the terrain you'll walk through;
  •  Difficulty of the walk and the composition of the paths.
  • Is this park accessible to those needing mobility assistance such as a cane.
  •  Directions to the parking area leading to the trail head;
  •  Hours the park is available to the public.

The walks cover the following types of preservation land:

  •  State Parks and Recreation Areas - These are now closed to the public due to overuse and staff shortages.
  • ICE AGE TRAIL ALLIANCE trails created and maintained by IATA throughout the County and the State, 
  •  City and County Parks including (City of Madison, Middleton, Cross Plains, and other Dane County towns.)
  •  Private and Public Conservancies and Public-Private shared ownership.
Remember that none of these areas are staffed nor are their bathrooms open.

List of Self-Guided Walks

  1. Indigenous Earthwork (Indian mounds) on Lake Mendota's North Shore
  2. Pope Farm Conservancy: Well posted with signage for self-guided walks;
  3.  Stewart Lake County Park: Lake, fishing, beach, wooded walk
  4. Edna Taylor Conservancy & Aldo Leopold Nature Center  
  5.  Wilkie Gorge of the Cross Plains National Scientific Reserve
  6.  Indian mounds and springs of Pheasant Branch
  7.  The woods and farmstead of Donald Park 

A Message from Madison Mayor Rhodes-Conway 

Getting outdoors is great for physical and mental health, but please be safe and follow public health orders.

  • State parks are closed. City and county parks remain open, but park equipment and sports courts are closed. Go to the park solo or with people in your household. Do not meet up with friends or family, even if you’re six feet apart.
  • Do not visit a park if it is crowded. If a parking lot is full, that’s a good indicator that it will be hard to maintain physical distancing.

Like you, I am eager for the day when we can return to some of our old habits. Here in Wisconsin, we are still in the beginning stages of this pandemic and we don’t yet know when we will be able to ease the restrictions on physical distancing. We will do our very best to keep you informed of our latest thinking on how to be safe and any news on City services.
Remember to follow all the news from our Public Health Department at their website https://www.publichealthmdc.com/ Facebook https://www.facebook.com/publichealthmdc/ and Twitter @PublicHealthMDC.

Comments from the ICE AGE TRAIL ALLIANCE" Newsletter:

Daily, there are more birds at the feeders and sweet trills hailing from oak trees and budding shrubbery. It’s calming, in this unsettling time, to watch these feathery creatures go about their normal activities. In a similar fashion, we hope the Ice Age National Scenic Trail continues to provide you with a similar sense of continuity and constancy in this uncertain time. As a part of the Ice Age Trail Alliance community, you know how beneficial the Ice Age Trail and our public lands are for improving physical and mental health, inspiring creativity, and increasing optimism. However, please hike responsibly and help flatten the curve.
The Ice Age Trail is created, supported, and protected by a dedicated volunteer force, some of whom now find themselves in the frontlines against COVID-19, as healthcare professionals and other essential service providers. We’re grateful for the time, energy, and effort these individuals are expending in the effort to respond to and manage this pandemic. Thank you.

Comments or questions about the walks?

This "self-guided walks of Dane County" was developed from a list of successful docent-led walks Carla and I and other faithful volunteers have conducted over the last four years.  I will be adding more to the list as the Pandemic continues to keep us isolated.  Building these self-guided walk series is very much a "work in progress".  If you have ideas for improving communications about the walks or additional information I could provide, please let me know.

If you have a favorite walk please drop a note and I'll get back to you shortly.  Please mark the subject line of the email "PLATO Walks" so that I can get to them quickly.

Mike DiIorio at mdiiorio1234@gmail.com or text me at 608 520 4448.

I hope you enjoy the walks. Stay healthy, stay safe.


PLATO is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in association with:

For more information about PLATO, contact:

Christine Bartlett
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

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software