Ward/Swartz Decatur Woods is a small southern dry-mesic forest northwest of Brodhead in Green County. The closest parking area is for Decatur Dam Park, about 1/5 mile to the south. The road in this area is narrow and gets a decent amount of traffic, so I would not suggest parking on the road. The site lies on a slope overlooking the Sugar River, but it is not terribly steep. Note that as you approach the top of the slope, you will be reaching the SNA boundary and there are periodic signs along there to signify this.
On my first visit here in the pre-GPS days, I did not notice any signage but figured out the general area of the SNA by the block of forest that broke up the string of houses along the road. However, I still felt unsure about where I was treading that day. Add in a gloomy, rainy day in August and there was not a variety of things to see or even if they were seen, to be photographed in any sort of decent fashion. Based on that earlier visit, I thought this might be a nice site for ephemeral wildflowers in the spring. I was finally able to return this past April and was not disappointed. There were beautiful displays of white trout lily, bloodroot, dutchman’s breeches, cut-leaved toothwort, mayapple, round-lobed hepatica, and common violet. Based on that list, I expected, but did not find Virginia bluebells. One sad thing that I did observe were large patches of invasive garlic mustard. Left unchecked, this may eventually take over this site and crowd out the aforementioned species. I hope the DNR is able to get to this site before it is too late, but that is unlikely with its already stretched resources.
More of my photos from Ward/Swartz Decatur Woods can be viewed here.
|Natural Communities / Geology
||Southern Dry-Mesic Forest|
|Parking||Parking area (nearby)|
|Easy to Find||No|
|Best Seen By||Foot|
|Dates Visited||8.9.09 / 4.26.15|