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Wisconsin

Hemlock Draw

Hemlock Draw supports a stunning contrast in vegetation.


What is a Draw?

A draw or hollow refers to a valley or long narrow gorge between two clefts of rock.

Why You Should Visit

Of all the hollows in the Baraboo Hills, Hemlock Draw supports the most stunning contrast in vegetation. You can see plant and bird species typically found in the northern areas of the state growing close to those typically found in southern Wisconsin.

These northern species, such as hemlock and yellow birch, may be relics from the time, some 13,000 years ago, when the edge of a towering ice mass stood just a few miles to the east.

You can see narrow pillars of rock, called "sea stacks," which are a remnant of ancient times when the Baraboo Hills were a chain of islands in a vast sea.

Location

South Central Wisconsin: in Sauk County near Leland - a 30-minute drive from Baraboo

Hours

Open year-round, dawn to dusk

Why the Conservancy Selected This Site

The Nature Conservancy first came to the Baraboo Hills in the early 1960s at the request of local residents and university professors who recognized the unique nature of this area. They wanted the Conservancy's help in protecting it.

The presence of both northern and southern plant and bird species makes Hemlock Draw an important site in the Hills.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

As of October 12, 2012, the Conservancy has helped protect 1,055 acres.  This figure includes lands owned and managed by the Conservancy, conservation easements, government co-ops and assists. 

An active group of volunteers helps the Conservancy to maintain some trails, take down fences, and remove non-native, invasive plants.

We have an ongoing research project here that tests various forest management techniques to determine the most effective way to maintain the oak forest community. This community is slowly disappearing as much of the forest becomes dominated by maples and other shade-tolerant species.

What to See: Plants
  • Many northern forest trees and plants, including hemlock, yellow birch, club mosses, liverworts and cliff saxifrage
  • Red and white oaks, hickories, and ironwood
  • Wildflowers, including wild geranium, wood anemone, bloodroot, and trillium
  • Several rare plants, including drooping sedge and kidney-leaved sullivantia
What to See: Birds

More than 40 species of breeding birds, including Barred Owls, Ruffed Grouse, Wood Thrush, Black-capped Chickadee, six species of warblers — including the rare worm-eating warbler — and four species of woodpeckers.

Click here to take a birding trip by car through the Baraboo Hills.

Please wear good hiking shoes that can get wet for the primitive, unmarked trail.

Please see "Preserve Visitation Guidelines"

Directions

Take US Hwy 12 northwest of Sauk City for 2.5 miles to the intersection with Cnty Hwy PF 

  • Turn left on Cnty PF; travel west for 12 miles to County Hwy C 
  • Turn right (NE) on Cnty C and proceed into Leland (0.25 mile)
  • Once in Leland, turn left (north) on Hemlock Road and go 2 miles to Reich Drive
  • Travel straight (north) on Reich Drive for approximately 0.5 mile to reach the preserve gate

Parking: Please do not block Reich Drive — local farmers use it to move large equipment. Please park on the shoulder south of the mailbox.

North Entrance: It is possible to enter Hemlock Draw from Buck Fever Road at the north end of the preserve. However, Buck Fever Road is very rough and steep. We strongly recommend parking on the shoulder of Schara Road and walking in.

Map to Hemlock Draw

Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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