Letting yourself drift into the rhythm, scents, sounds and views as you hike at your leisure the miles of wooded and prairie trails in the Baraboo Bluffs around the Inn at Wawanissee Point bed and breakfast is stress relieving, nourishing and uplifting. And fun!
But sometimes you wonder about these natural landscapes, wishing you knew more. Visit the Inn in Baraboo, Wis., this summer to attend two kinds of free, guided hikes to learn about the Baraboo Range’s unique features.
Photo: Baraboo Range Lower Narrows looking southwest. Photo courtesy of the Baraboo Range Preservation Association.
A Hike Back In Time with Ken Lange at Devil’s Lake State Park in Baraboo is a new hike offered weekly this summer and fall. Lange served as the Park’s naturalist for 30 years. He has written numerous books about the ecology and geology of the Baraboo Range, publishing his newest book, Song Of Place: A Natural History Of The Baraboo Hills, in 2015. It is a treat to learn from Lange’s extensive knowledge of and passion for this area’s natural wonders.
This 3.5-mile geology hike through the Park begins with an orientation at Steinke Basin, then crosses the road onto the end moraine of the Wisconsin glacier to talk about rocks transported by the glacier. Follow the trail onto the top of the south end of the east bluff to see rocks transported by glaciers, potholes, Devil’s Doorway, an Indian marker tree, a 200-year-old red cedar, a quartzite glade and pygmy forest unique to Wisconsin. Some sections of the trail are steep. Wear appropriate footwear and bring plenty of water.
Before the hike purchase a state-park vehicle admission sticker online here or at the park’s north-shore entrance just beyond Steinke Basin. Call 608-356-8301 ext. 140 or e-mail [email protected] with questions.
Check the Devil’s Lake State Park Visitor Guide at www.devilslakewisconsin.com to learn about other events at Devil’s Lake State Park and tips to explore Wisconsin’s largest state park.
Summer weekends fill fast!
Aldo Leopold Memorial Reserve stewardship hikes start at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center 20 minutes northeast of the Inn on Levee Road, which is Rustic Road 49. During this two-hour, summer evening hike the Center’s land stewardship staff highlight the property’s uniqueness and discuss its history, plants and wildlife, and what it means to continue Aldo Leopold’s legacy of land management. You’ll explore part of the Leopold family’s 150-acre farm and learn about the reserve, a 1,500-acre buffer around the farm and the Leopold Shack established in 1967 by five like-minded neighboring landowners, which allowed Leopold to implement his pioneering ecological restoration experiments.
The oak savanna, wetlands and a dry prairie remnant overlook the Wisconsin River, offering critical habitat for grassland birds and sandhill crane staging during migration. The Reserve is part of the 16,000-acre Leopold-Pine Island Important Bird Area, a large conservation project cooperatively managed by public, private and nonprofit entities that embodies Leopold’s conservation and land-management principles. “Conservation is a slow and laborious unfolding of a new relationship between people and land,” Leopold wrote.
Spend the afternoon exploring the art and exhibits in the Aldo Leopold Center and visit Leopold’s Shack, a National Historic Place. Then have dinner in Portage or Baraboo before the hike.
Prairie Flower Hikes
The Prairie Enthusiasts www.theprairieenthusiasts.org are hosting a monthly tour series to watch the changing wildflower display at Schluckebier Sand Prairie State Natural Area, Sauk City, Wis. It's a small dry to dry-mesic prairie remnant, one of the last surviving of the 14,000- acre Sauk Prairie. From Hwy 12 north of Sauk City, travel west on Co. Rd. PF 1.5 miles to a dirt lane past a row of pines on the left. Park on the south side of the road.
· July 23, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Brandon Mann leads this hike; contact him with questions at [email protected] and 413-427-4099.
· Aug. 28, 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Native orchid propagators Scott Weber and Muffy Barrett of Bluestem Farm in Baraboo, Wis., lead the hike; contact them with questions at [email protected] and 608-356-0179.
Learn about taking field notes during a Brown Bag Lunch, Finding A Story In Field Notes, at the Aldo Leopold Center on June 17, 2016, 12:00 p.m.–1:00 p.m. Making notes while hiking improves our observation skills and makes us better naturalists. Doreen Pfost, a Wisconsin writer and communications consultant, and author of the just released This River Beneath The Sky: A Year On The Platte, shares tools and techniques for taking field notes and how to organize them. She’ll read briefly from her book, and show you how field notes can become part of a published work. Her new book is an essay series of field notes, and natural and human history about Nebraska’s Platte River, a rest stop for thousands of sandhill cranes during spring migration. Admission is free. Learn more about Pfost at doreenpfost.com.