Upcoming events

    • August 26, 2022
    • May 26, 2023
    • 10 sessions
    • Marquette Hotel Cafe, 414 S. Baldwin St, Madison, WI 53703

     We encourage those who wish to wear masks to do so.

    Breakfast Get-Together

    Make new friends, meet new PLATO members for breakfast or a chat over a cup of coffee

    Eastside Location:  Madison Marquette Hotel Cafe

    • Day: Meets on fourth Friday of each month. 
    • Time: 9:30 am to 11:30 am
    • Place: Madison Marquette Hotel Cafe
    • Breakfast Menu, directions and hours
    • Parking: Street Parking available
    • Organizers: Catherine Masi  cat100tothesea@gmail.com
      and Peggy Zalucha  pfz@zalucha.com
    • RSVP or Questions?: Let one of the organizers know you're coming the Wednesday before the breakfast by email
    • COVID Protocol: Please continue to use a masks at this event unless you are eating.

    • October 11, 2022
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • 7440 W Old Sauk Rd, Verona, WI
    • 17

    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. Sunflowers have not been planted this year.  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. 

    Normally, the fields of Sun Flowers are ready to bloom in early August. This year the crop rotation will not include Sunflowers. 

    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.


    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.


    Study a replica of a 1,000 year old Native American garden, and how their knowledge contributed to agriculture.


    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.


    Main Entrance

    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

    Bike racks are available at the Old Sauk and Upper Parking lots. No biking is allowed on the trails.

    Map & Directions

    • October 14, 2022
    • November 11, 2022
    • 2 sessions
    • 402 W. Lakeside St, Madison, WI 53715-1702


    We're Inside This Month

    at Lakeside Street Coffee House

    Every 2nd Friday of the Month

    Make new friends, meet new PLATO members for breakfast or a chat over a cup of coffee

    Location:  Lakeside Street Coffee House

    • Day: Meets on second Friday of each month. 
    • Time: 9:30 am to 11:30 am
    • Place: Lakeside St. Coffee House, 402 W Lakeside St, Madison,53715
    • Directions from John Nolan Drive and Beltline
    • Parking: Street Parking
    • Organizer: Sharon Scrattish
    • Rain Considerations: Event will be held
    • RSVP or Questions?: Let Sharon know you're coming the Thursday before the breakfast by email or phone (sscratti@gmail.com or 608 280 8050)
    • COVID Protocol: Wear a mask to the event if you prefer.

    Questions? Sharon's contact information is:  sscratti@gmail.com  or 608-280-8050

    • November 08, 2022
    • 9:30 AM - 11:30 AM
    • Parking lot at Orchid Heights Park, 3960 Valley Ridge Road, Middleton.
    • 30
    Registration is closed

    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.

    • November 30, 2023
    • Locations described in eaach event description
    • 25

    Free to PLATO Members and Guests

    No Registration Required


    Persons wishing to wear a mask during any of the walks are encouraged to do so.

    The walks listed below are based on popular guided walks organized by PLATO'S Special Events Committee over the last 5 years. The descriptions are meant to aid you in finding interesting, welcoming, safe places to walk during the year and include driving and parking information. One walk requires permission to walk on the grounds. In that case the description of the walk describes the procedure to follow.

    1. A Self-Guided Walk in the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood

    2. Indigenous Earthwork (Indian Mound) on Lake Mendota's North Shore

    3. Stewart Lake County PArk


    5. Cherokee Marsh : Yahara Heights unit

    6. Cherokee Marsh - North unit

    7. Edna Taylor Conservation Park,  Aldo Leopoled Nature Center and Madison's Woodland Park

    8. Donald Park: Woods, hills and farmstead

    9. Wilkie Gorge of the Cross Plains National Scientific ReserVE

    10. Pheasant branch conservancY

    11. Olin Park and turville point conservation park

    Questions?  Contact trip creator Mike Dilorio at mdiiorio1234@gmail.com.  Please text me at 608-520-4448 for a 24 hr response.

PLATO is proudly supported in part by Oakwood Village.

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

for more information, contact us at:



6209 Mineral Point Road #203
Madison, WI 53705

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