Pheasant Branch is a Pleasant Branch

Just 6 miles west of Madison lies a primo natural resource

Jul. 8, 2016
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I remember first stumbling upon the Pheasant Branch Conservancy in my early teens. Part of the trail ran directly behind Kromrey Middle School. My friends and I would wander down there after a day of sheer unadulterated hell. We'd hang out amongst the trees, snack, trade stories and Teen Beat magazines. There were other students who enjoyed nature down there, but it was more about the kind smoked through a rolled up piece of paper. For my part, I recall how the feeling of sanctuary and peace abounded by just sitting there – taking it all in.

Today the conservancy stretches over 550 acres, and there are several trail routes to enjoy for your hiking, biking, or blading pleasure – as some of the segments are paved or wooden-bridged, and run through parks. The majority of it is wooded and secluded prairie land, however. Another unique feature of Pheasant Branch are The Frederick (Sacred) Springs. These naturally occurring phenomena are a sight to behold and a science-lover's dream. You can watch the boils bubble up close from a nicely built observation deck. There are also marshes, wetlands, fields, oak groves, Indian mounds, and lots of bird-watching to be had. When my Mom and I visited recently, an appropriate brightly-colored pheasant crossed our path at one point. Other wildlife you may come across are deer, herons, frogs, Sandhill Cranes, ducks, geese, hawks, and owls – to name a few. I have hiked through the conservancy now through every season. Whether wading through glistening snow or cooling off in a refreshing light rain sprinkle, it has always been a highly pleasurable experience.

Although enjoyed by many in Middleton, it is rare to ever feel bunched-up on by your neighbors, as it is so very vast. A sampling of events at the conservancy include summertime concerts, fun runs, and one program entitled, "Whoop it up with Whooping Cranes!" Volunteer opportunities are also available for conservancy restoration, as well as educational programs for the kids. To entice you further, check out:


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