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

About Edna Taylor Conservation Park

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 high grass and 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. 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.

About Aldo Leopold Nature Center, Monona Campus

Edna Taylor Conservation Park abuts the equally enjoyable Aldo Leopold Nature Center 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 not available at the park..

The ALND building is closed during the Pandemic (worth a visit when open) but the property and trails are open.

Plan to return when the building is open: The ALND with access to their interactive theaters, digital touchscreen curriculum, renewable energy displays, and hands-on Leopold Family Phenology Center. along with their lobby Nature Nooks and outdoor interpretive trails.  They continue to integrate age-appropriate climate change education across all programming to help children and adults understand these impacts, how their actions affect the environment, and how they can enact solutions to ecological challenges

The Walk

Park at the trailhead for Edna Taylor Conservation Park and look for the trailhead sign.  Walk through the Edna Taylor Conservation Park, through the adjoining Aldo Leopold Nature trails and up the glacial City of Madison Woodland Park. Though the Aldo Leopold Nature Center building is closed they have allowed us to walk the Nature Center trails that connect the Leopold Nature Trails to the City of Madison Woods.  Return to the parking lot by retracing your steps.

Length of Walk

The Edna Taylor Conservation Park has a few trails (2 + miles), most approach the Aldo Leopold Nature Center (closed). Explore the well marked Aldo Leopold trails (1/2 mile) and then head up the significant glacial deposit to the top of the City of Madison Park, which overlooks Monona Drive.  Two mostly intact Indian Mounds can be found on top of the hill park. Your return will provide a 4 - 5 mile walk.

Park Features

Two Ponds with various water birds and mammals; marsh walk with wooden foot bridges and viewing platforms; and six Indian Mounds; Trails through hardwood forests and marsh grasses and reeds. The City's terminal moraine Park contains two mostly intact Indian Mounds and a view of Edna Taylor.

Trail Conditions Accessibility 

Accessibility to those needing assistance is poor as the ground can be soft and rough.  The paths are lightly maintained and are affected by the weather.  The paths are wider in the woods than along the marsh.   The paths are adequate for most people.

Edna Taylor Conservation Park Directions

From the Beltline Highway (US 12/18), drive north on Monona Drive 0.6 miles and make a right onto Femrite Drive. The parking lot for Edna Taylor is on the left about 0.4 miles from Monona Drive. To the right of the parking is the easily identifiable trailhead. 

    Comments or questions about the walks?

    This self-guided walk 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 is very much a "work in progress".  If you have ideas for improving communications about the walks or additional information provide, drop me a line.

    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.  Remember that both State Parks are not available to the public.

    Mike DiIorio at 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 supported in part by:

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    6209 Mineral Point Road #203
    Madison, WI 53705

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