Upcoming events

    • April 27, 2020
    • (CDT)
    • November 01, 2020
    • (CDT)
    • 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-Guied 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.


    • April 27, 2020
    • (CDT)
    • December 02, 2020
    • (CST)
    • Ice Age Trails in Wisconsin
    • 1


    Exploring Wisconsin on Foot

    The Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA) Website provides information on walks throughout the State of Wisconsin along the edges of the Wisconsin glacier.  

    How to use the IATA website to plan a walk:

    1.   Go To the planning page of the IATA website: 
    2.   Scroll down to the regional maps of wisconsin.
    3.   Below each map you will find various types of walks.
    4.   Select the type of walk you are interested in.
    5.   The display will contain a glacial-edge route between various     sites containing appropriate walks. 
    6.   You will be presented with material you need to plan a safe trip to the area including directions, trail head location, and available facilities.

    What you can expect 

    • Information about the organization
    • Organized by Region of the State and type of walk
    • Information about each walk including
      • level of difficulty including accessibility considerations
      • length of walk, type of terrain, type of path,
      • points of interest including historical and geological information
      • resources along the way such as restrooms, restaurants, gas stations, etc.
    • Overnight stay possibilities such as camping facilities

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

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


    • June 05, 2020
    • (CDT)
    • August 21, 2020
    • (CDT)
    • 6 sessions

    Summer 2020 PLATO Breakfast 
    Move To:
    1st and 3rd Fridays
     Virtually on your computer or phone!


    Conveniently located via your computer or smartphone from the comfort of your own home in this age of COVID-19.

    Make new friends, meet new PLATO members and folks online in-lieu of in-person. 

    1st and 3rd Fridays in Summer 2020

    • Days:  June 5th, June 19th, July 3rd, July 17th, August 7th, and August 21st.

    • Time:  9:30 am to 10:30 am

    • Organizer:  Sharon Scrattish and Sue Dentinger

    • To join,  just click on this url at the right date and time: 

    • https://meet.google.com/czb-vorm-cvy

    • If you do not have a computer or smart phone, join by calling +1 501-803-2238  then when asked, enter the PIN 475483052#  

    • RSVP or Questions?: Let Sharon know you're coming the Wednesday before the breakfast by email or phone.

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

    Banana Bread was a topic at our first online breakfast meeting (as was Carol Maas, the Waunakee Banana Bread Lady, who bakes banana bread three times a year to deliver to all the Waunakee schools to say thank you to the staff!)

    Here's the recipe from Mary Karau for the Best Banana Bread Ever.  You could also call it "Small Batch Quarantine Banana Bread":

    It's a small recipe and I put it into two large-ish ramekins.  You could also use a 5-inch oven pan.  As I mentioned, one recipe of this is 4 servings for me.  I would say each serving is about like a regular-sized muffin.  Ramekins are 3 1/2 wide


    One very ripe banana, medium (need not be "rotten"!)

    1 medium egg

    4 Tablespoons oil (neutral flavor, such as avocado)

    1 scant teaspoon vanilla extract

    1/8 cup granulated sugar

    1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed

    1/4 Cup all-purpose flour

    1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour

    1/4 rounded teaspoon baking powder

    1/4 rounded teaspoon baking soda

    1/4 teaspoon salt (more if Kosher salt)

    1/4 - 1/2 cup broken nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts)

    Mash the banana in a wide bowl.  Add the egg and mix well.  Add the oil, vanilla, and the sugars and mix well.

    In another small bowl, add the flours, the baking powder, baking soda, and the salt.  Mix well.  Add the nuts and toss.

    Grease 2 large ramekins or a smallish oven pan.

    Mix the wet and dry ingredients, folding rather than stirring, until just blended.  Do not overmix!

    Bake at 325º for about 15 minutes.  Check with a toothpick in the center.  Cool 10-15 minutes and then turn out of the pans.


    This goes together very quickly and is really good--no fail!

    I think plain whole wheat flour would work as of course would using all all-purpose flour.  WW Pastry flour makes the result very tender, great texture.

    This banana bread keeps well for several days (if you can stop eating it that long!)

    This is plenty sweet for me but some folks who have a big sweet tooth might use 1/4 cup granulated sugar.  


    Waunakee Banana Bread Lady (Carol Maas) 

    favorite Banana Bread recipe via Steve Sparks: 

    3/4 cup butter or margarine (whatever margarine is on sale)

    1 1/2 cup  sugar

    1 1/2 cup  mashed bananas

    2 eggs  (well beaten)

    1 tsp vanilla

    2 cups sifted flour

    3/4 tsp salt

    1 tsp baking soda

    1/2 cup  sour milk

    3/4 cup  chopped nuts (optional)

    Mix butter (I melt it into liquid in the microwave) and sugar thoroughly. Blend in bananas, eggs, and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together. Add to banana mixture alternately with milk, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add nuts. Pour into greased loaf pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 75 minutes. Yield one loaf.....or  3-4 small loaves which are baked for 40-50 minutes.

    To sour milk...add 1 Tbl.  white vinegar to milk. Bananas can be mashed and frozen until needed.

    Other helpful tips for being in a Google Meet meeting:

    • Join the conference, click on the link:  https://meet.google.com/czb-vorm-cvy.  The link will be active now and you can go to Google Meet at any time although other people will not join you until the meeting date and time.

    • Use the link above before the meeting to:

      • Make sure your device’s camera and microphone work.

      • Get familiar with the interface.

      • Make sure you look good on camera (for example, I have a window behind me that casts me in silhouette so I close the blinds for the meeting).

    • Joining the meeting:

      • Clicking on the “Joining info” link will open a tab in your browser and start Google Meet.

      • Depending on how you have your browser’s privacy settings configured, you may be asked to allow the browser to turn on your camera and microphone. Accept those permissions (otherwise you won’t be seen or heard!) and you will see yourself on your computer or phone screen.

      • If you’re the only one on the call, it will tell you that. If anybody else happens to be on, it will tell you that.

    • Using the interface:

      • Use the icons in the center of the white bar at the bottom of the screen to control your participation.

      • § The microphone icon – Click on the icon to turn the mic on or to mute it. In the meeting you should always have your microphone muted unless you are speaking. This will prevent any background noises in your house from disturbing while others are talking.

      • § The camera icon – Click on the camera icon to turn it on and off.

      • § The red telephone receiver icon – Click on this icon to disconnect from the conference. If you leave Google Meet completely and then want to return to the conference, go back and click the “Joining info” link the invitation email.

      • § If the white bar at the bottom disappears from your screen, click anywhere in the main picture area to get it back.

      • Chat :  In the upper right corner of the screen is a chat function, this allows participants to send and receive texts. If there are many people in the meeting it may work better to write via Chat that you want to make a comment or question.

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

For more information about PLATO, contact:

Edie Urness-Pondillo
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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