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About 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 setting with the focus on learning about the land, past and present. Walk over grassy and limestone trails and learn about the local archaeology, farming, geology and natural history.  This is one of the highest elevated plateaus in our area, feeding three distinct watersheds. 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. In season, you will walk among  the sunflower and corn fields planted to enhance the educational experience. Erosion is always a farming concern, and you can 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."

The Walk

Walk up to seven miles of trails through crops, prairie, and woodlands. Trail signs will guide you along the way. 

Conservancy Purpose

This property was purchased as a natural area for educational experiences (with over 40 interpretive signs), walking trails, and wildlife viewing. 

Park Features

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.


In season, 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?


Trail Conditions Accessibility 

The wide paths are well maintained and suitable for those walking with canes but could be a struggle for those who require a wheelchair.  

Driving and Parking Instructions

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.  
    • 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.  

Bike Racks

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

    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 and City 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:

    for more information, contact us at:


    6209 Mineral Point Road #203
    Madison, WI 53705

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