Pine Island Savanna (244/679)

Pine Island Savanna encompasses one the largest floodplain savanna in the state. Located along the Wisconsin River and spanning the Columbia-Sauk Counties border, portions of the site are accessible from land, while the highest quality savanna is located on an island.  A boat launch and parking area are both found along Levee Road between CTH…

French Creek Fen, SNA #546 (154/675)

French Creek Fen features three fen areas embedded with a semi-open wetland complex.  A wet prairie, sedge meadow, and springs are also present.  Found within the French Creek Wildlife Area in northern Columbia County, there are several parking areas around the periphery, though the easiest access is probably via the parking area at the end…

Springvale Wet Prairie, SNA #547 (151/675)

Springvale Wet Prairie includes a wet prairie, sedge meadow, and small fen on a site bisected by Duck Creek east of Pardeeville.  There are no great parking options as even the roads here have narrow shoulders and steep ditches on the sides.  Luckily for me, CTH I was closed at the time and so I…

Grassy Lake, SNA #548 (77/674)

Having explored an SNA or two, one thing I have realized is that when a site is named something like Grassy Lake, sometimes the site is only the lake and sometimes its hundreds of additional acres.  This is a case of the former.  It is an easy site to find with a parking area on…

Rocky Run Oak Savanna, SNA #220 (76/674)

Diverse topography is the dominant feature at Rocky Run Oak Savanna.  Undulating terrain is found on a south-facing slope overlooking Rocky Run Creek.  As part of the Rocky Run State Fishery Area, a parking area is located off of Hwy 22, south of Wyocena. A narrow access lane opens up to an old agricultural field…

Dells of the Wisconsin River, SNA #283 (46/674)

Dells of the Wisconsin River is a wonderful site, with beautiful views and a diversity of protected natural communities.  It is the only SNA that can be found in 4 different counties.  The protected land is comprised of cliffs overlooking the Wisconsin River, which in this portion of the state, forms the boundaries between several…

Lower Narrows, SNA #533 (45/674)

Lower Narrows is a beautiful and great example of the geologic history of our state.  It represents a break in the Baraboo Range and was likely carved by a preglacial river.  Today, the Baraboo River flows through the 900-foot wide, 230-foot high gorge.  Further to the west, another SNA, Ableman’s Gorge, represents a similar break…

Lost Lake, SNA #198 (44/674)

Lost Lake was once prized for the clarity of the ice that formed there in the winter.  Now it is protected as a State Natural Area and comprises an interesting mix of natural communities.  From the parking area, the bulk of the site slopes gently downward toward the lake.  In some places, large quartzite outcrops…

Empire Prairies, SNA #146 (38/674)

Empire Prairies consists of three separate remnant drumlin prairies, two of which are open to the public.  The Westport Drumlin and and Hagen units are open to the public and fairly straightforward to reach, the latter being the easiest with a parking area off the road and a short walk to the drumlin.  Westport Drumlin…

Audubon Goose Pond, SNA #86 (34/674)

Audubon Goose Pond is a hotspot for birding, particularly during spring or autumn migrations when many species of shorebirds and waterfowl, in particular, stop here. Also known as Goose Pond Sanctuary, over 240 species of birds have been spotted here.  Hundreds of tundra swans and Canada geese congregate here during migration season.  The site itself…

Gibraltar Rock, SNA #73 (33/674)

Rising 200 feet over the Wisconsin River valley, a stunning panorama awaits you after a moderately steep hike up Gibraltar Rock.  From the parking area, there are two hiking options.  The access road is steeper, though more direct.  An Ice Age Trail segment also leads to the top at a shallower slope over its longer…