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Fall Hiking Tips by Nature Experts

November 10, 2020 3:32 PM

Take a walk in nature this fall!  As we continue to follow safety guidelines from Public Health Madison & Dane County, and are unable to promote guided Bird & Nature Outings, our volunteer nature experts created these suggestions for self-guided walks. Explore beyond these tips, check out HIKING.

Tenney Park, 1650 Sherman Avenue
Waterfowl Wander

Photo by Jonathan Popp

Tenney Park is a favorite gathering place for birds, as well as people! Take a self-guided walk any day this fall along Lake Mendota, the Tenney Lagoon and the Yahara Canal.  Bring binoculars or a zoom camera if you have one. Look for familiar birds like Canada Geese and Mallards that are forming large flocks for migration. Can you find some all-black American Coots making cute squeaky-toy sounds? Can you identify 3 more species of beautiful migrating waterfowl such as Blue-winged Teal, Buffleheads, Common Mergansers, Common Loon, and Greater or Lesser Scaup? Use an inexpensive bird guide or app such as "iBird" to help you identify species by their shape, bill size, and unique color pattern.

Nature experts suggest the website All About Birds to help you identify and learn more about the many birds you'll spot around Tenney Park.

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park - North Unit, 6098 N Sherman Ave.
Ice Age Geology

cherokeeFrom the North Unit's upper parking area take the River trail to Hickory Island and imagine standing on the edge of an ancient deep Yahara River canyon, now almost filled with sediment. Stop to check out the large 'erratic' rock dropped by the Ice Age glacier, now used to mark the Native American mound. Go back up the trail and take the Overlook trail to notice the general northeast-southwest hill orientation that is typical of Ice Age Moraines and the relatively flat top that indicates a bedrock remnant was scraped flat by the huge glacier. Continue on the Overlook trail down and around the hill to view ancient bedrock on the vertical hillside where quarrying was done. Take the Bluebird and Lu's Pond trails to view the open flat marsh now growing on historic giant Lake Yahara sediment. Cherokee Marsh North Trail Map 


Owen Conservation Park, 6021 Old Sauk Road 
Be a Friend of Owen

owen park people walking trail
Photo by Brian Shore

Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy the colorful trees, rustling squirrels, and other sights and sounds of nature along the beautiful winding trails at Owen Conservation Park.  Prepare to be surprised around each bend by another scenic spot!  Bring binoculars or a camera if you have one! This wonderful park is the result of years of collaboration between Madison Parks and passionate volunteers - the first "Friends of Owen" - to save and restore it.  The official Friends of Owen Park group is fairly new and is bringing new energy and initiatives to help restore habitat and make the park welcoming and educational for everyone to enjoy!  *New* Owen All Season Trail Map



Turville Point Conservation Park, 1156 Olin-Turville Court 
Learn About Restoration with Goats

goats turville point parkTurville Point is one of the first Madison parks where goats were used to manage the land in prescribed grazing. Take a walk through this conservation park to see how the goats are helping open up over grown brushy areas under the trees so native plants can grow! Goats can eat 8 pounds a day, which is great for removing Buckthorn, Honeysuckle and other invasive plants that are difficult and expensive to remove. This helps restore native species and avoids the use of chemicals. The goats are managed by Parks staff with fences and moved between areas in park system in test areas assisting with land management work. *New* Turville Point All Season Trail Map



Warner Park, 2930 N. Sherman Ave. 
Prairie Scrape and Stomp

milkweedTake a walk in the Wild Side of Warner Park! Look for the Milkweed pod along the path that is turning brown and opening to reveal hundreds of seeds inside, each attached to a plume of white fluff that can carry in the wind to a new location where it might take root. Most native prairie seeds do not have to be buried in soil, they need to be somewhat exposed and freeze over winter to germinate. The new shoots get started and take root in the Spring. If you enjoy Scrape and Stomp learn about more kinds of prairie seeds and more planting techniques like starting seeds in milk jugs over winter. Warner Park Trail Map



Edna Taylor Conservation Park, 330 Femrite Drive 
Oak Masting and More

edna taylor park treesEnjoy a fall nature walk beginning at Aldo Leopold Nature Center or Edna Taylor Conservation Park. Pretend to be a squirrel or blue jay by looking for acorns to bury in the duff (loose soil) and stash in tree cavities for the winter!  Are they also helping plant new oaks?  See Madison Fun Activities and select "Oak Masting and More" to learn more about the "masting" of acorns and other ways in which the grouping of large numbers of living things and their seeds can help ensure their survival and the survival of creatures that depend on them. Edna Taylor Conservation Park connects to the trails of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center and nearby Woodland Park in Monona. Edna Taylor Trail Map


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