Bear Creek Sedge Meadow (20/674)

Green was the name of the scene on my visit to Bear Creek Sedge Meadow.  This site is is composed of two parcels of land, smaller one is Richland County and a larger parcel just a bit north in Sauk County.  I visited both parcels and found the Richland County portion easier to access due…

Pine Hollow, SNA #45 (19/674)

A deep quartzite gorge is the prominent feature at Pine Hollow, which is a large, more diverse version of nearby Pan Hollow.  The gorge rises 300′ in places.  There are a variety of other habitats present here ranging from a prairie opening to moist cliffs to a sedge meadow.  Also present are rockshelters used by…

Pan Hollow, SNA #545 (18/674)

A wide, flat-bottomed gorge is the dominant feature at Pan Hollow. Sans GPS, this is not the easiest site to find as there were no markings or signage of any kind on the lonely country road where it is located. Parking on the roadside and walking across a field leads you into the forest and…

Spring Green Preserve, SNA #102 (16/674)

Known as the “Wisconsin desert”, plants you might not think exist in the state actually thrive in the arid, shifting sands of Spring Green Preserve.  The site is easy to find amidst a row of houses just north of US14 in Spring Green.  A gravel parking area provides ample room for 10 or so vehicles…

Smith Slough & Sand Prairie, SNA #250 (11/674)

An oxbow lake, shrub-carr, bottomland hardwood forest, oak barrens, and oak savanna are among the 1 variety of plant communities compose Smith Slough & Sand Prairie SNA.  There are a couple gravel parking areas and boat launches associated with the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway that provide starting points of exploration.  Getting around this site, however,…

Ferry Bluff, SNA #217 (10/674)

Ferry Bluff, along with its sister bluff Cactus, rise more than 300 feet above the Wisconsin River at its confluence with Honey Creek and provide stunning vistas. The gravel road to reach the site is rather narrow but there is ample parking. From there a trail follows the river before beginning a climb to the…

Parfrey’s Glen, SNA #1 (9/674)

A deep sandstone gorge dominates the site at Parfrey’s Glen, Wisconsin’s first State Natural Area. Designated in 1952, the area contains Parfrey’s Glen Creek, having cut through the Cambrian sandstone to form the gorge. The wet rock walls provide the environment for a more northern type of forest containing yellow birch, mountain maple,and red elder…

Baxter’s Hollow, SNA #82 (8/674)

Blankets of wildflowers fill the gorge at Baxter’s Hollow and avian melodies fill the air around Otter Creek.  Perhaps a reflection of its glacial origins, Baxter’s Hollow is a site that is in seemingly constant flux.  Heavy spring rains flood the gorge and wield immense power.  During my first visit, I came upon a washed-out…

Pewits Nest, SNA #200 (7/674)

Shaded cliffs overlooking a 40-foot gorge with Skillet Creek flowing below await you at Pewits Nest.  So-named for “an individual who lived in the solid sandstone, like a gnome in a cavern. His abode was some ten feet above a deep pool of water. This dwelling resembled the nest of a phoebe (or peewit, an earlier…

McGilvra Woods, SNA #206 (6/674)

Rich displays of spring ephemeral wildflowers greet visitors to McGilvra Woods, though a visit in any season is a treat. My visits were in summer and fall, the latter providing a colorful display of autumnal sugar maples. As there are no trails, I leisurely meandered around the site, working my way aroudn the occasional downed…

Ableman’s Gorge, SNA #75 (5/674)

Rising 200 feet above the Baraboo River, Ableman’s Gorge is a 3/4 mile long gorge cut through quartzite. It contains world-famous erosional impacts of an ancient sea on the Precambrian quartzite and has been well-studied by geologists, especially at UW-Madison, over the years. My visit here predates the installation of a trail and therefore it…

Cady’s Marsh, SNA #72 (4/674)

Cady’s Marsh is a bit or a misnomer.  Although some marsh is present, the focus of preservation at the site is an interesting mix of prairie types (wet/dry) and sedge meadow.  It is a site that I have been to twice and still feel I need to see again to see it at its peak. …