Governor Nelson State Park
5140 Co Hwy M, Waunakee, WI 53597
Established in 1975, Governor Nelson State Park spans an impressive four hundred twenty two acres inside Westport, Wisconsin. Bordering Waunakee, Wisconsin on Lake Mendota’s northern shore, the park received its name to honor Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelson. On clear, sunny days, the Capitol building can be viewed from the park. Open from six in the morning until eleven at night, the park is most active between ten and three o’clock. Park goers can walk along the sandy beach, launch their boat, enjoying fishing with a cleaning station on location, places to picnic and playgrounds for the kids. Bring your dog to enjoy the prairie restoration and more than eight miles of trails to tucker your four-legged friend out on. Hike the Woodland Trail to witness Native American effigy mounds! Stop out during the winter for fantastic cross-country skiing!
Capital Springs State Park
3101 Lake Farm Road, Madison, WI 53711
Capital Springs State Park is maintained by both the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Dane County. Ride out to Capital City State Trail and bike from the Lake Farm Campground to multiple different Madison and Wisconsin trailways. For folks interested in boating, kayaking, or canoeing, be sure to have a Wisconsin State Park vehicle admission sticker, Wisconsin Conservation Patron License, or Dane County Lake Access Permit. Park attendees can reserve a campsite here. Get your fishing license to cast a line out on Lake Waubesa. Children fourteen and younger as well as adults with a disability are welcomed to fish on the Jenni and Kyle Preserve, between State Highway 14 and Fish Hatchery Road. Register your dog with a Dane County Pet Permit to bring them along the trails and boardwalks to see the surreal landscapes and diverse bird species!
Nevin Springs Fish and Wildlife Area
Wisconsin adopted Nevin Springs Fish and Wildlife Area in 1876 to create a fish hatchery. Nevin Springs is the eldest of all lands maintained by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Located in Fitchburg, a city just South of Madison, the premises design was originally only to keep the lands and waters habitable for wildlife and fish. Now, with specific regulations and in limited areas, individuals are able to hunt, trap, and fish on the land and waters. Bird watching and berry picking is allowed while geocaching is okay if permitted by the property manager. Visitors are encouraged to bring their bikes to savor in the sights along the Capital City Trail. If you bring your dog between April 15th and July 31st, please be sure to keep them leashed at all times with a leash no longer than eight feet. Stop by to see the fourteen natural springs that flow in the Yahara River. If you’re interested in touring the hatchery, head to the hatcheries station website to register yourself for the hatching and raising of Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout.
Yahara Heights County Park
5428 WI-113, Waunakee, WI 53597
Yahara Heights spans one hundred forty one acres near Cherokee Marsh, which is Dane County and Lake Mendota’s most expansive wetland. The park has more than three thousand feet of land along the water which has been able to serve as spawning areas for fish and preserve wildlife habitats. Additionally, Yahara Heights County Park serves Lake Mendota by providing water sedimentation areas. Bring your dog to play on the twenty acre “pet exercise area,” hiking trails, or bring your kayak or canoe to the launch site. Acquire an archery hunting permit or step out during the winter to snowshoe!
Cherokee Marsh State Natural Area
4439 Buckley Rd, Madison, WI 53704
The Cherokee Marsh is one of many in a network that spans over two thousand acres. Species that would classify the northern land as low prairie, shrub-carr, bog, and sedge meadow live in what is referred to as a fen. The southern part is a shrub-meadow with half the ground having bog birch, willows, and dogwood. Canary grass and nettles overtook places along the southwest and southeast borders. The hydrology has been proven to be rather intricate, as studies of the topography have shown different wildlife species come and go through the area, mostly mammals and birds. The DNR and City of Madison own Cherokee Marsh, dedicated as a State Natural Area in 1976.