From the towering pines and wild lakes of the Northwoods to the sun-kissed prairies of southern Wisconsin, The Nature Conservancy and its members have protected some of the most beautiful places in Wisconsin, places that literally jump, fly, swim and hop with an amazing diversity of life.
Most of the places we have protected in Wisconsin are open to the public for visitation and many types of outdoor recreation including hiking, canoeing, hunting, wildlife watching and nature photography.
Preparation: The Key to a Safe, Enjoyable Visit
We have walking trails at most, though not all, preserves, but few other visitor facilities. So please prepare for your visit and take proper precautions while on site.
- Wear comfortable footwear suitable for hiking, but please do not wear heavy, cleated boots — these damage the trails.
- To protect yourself from ticks, poison ivy or poison sumac, wear long pants — and tuck them into your socks.
- No matter which season of the year it is, each person in your party should bring a full water bottle. Dehydration is a serious risk at any time of the year.
- PLEASE NOTE: From September to January, gun and bow hunting for deer is allowed on many Conservancy preserves during DNR posted seasons. For safety and visibility we recommend that you wear blaze orange or neon pink clothing if you will be visiting one of the preserves where we allow hunting during this time period. Hunting is an important management tool that we use to keep the plants, animals and habitats at our preserves healthy and diverse.
Preparation: What to Bring
To get the most from your visit, and to protect yourself from the elements, you may want to include the following items in your backpack:
- Field guides (to wildflowers, birds, butterflies and other natural features)
- Insect repellent
- Rain gear
- Snack (fruit or trail mix)
Preparation: ADA Accessibility
In accordance with the Department of Justice’s amended regulation implementing Title III of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding "Other Power‐Driven Mobility Devices,” The Nature Conservancy is completing an assessment of its nature preserves in Wisconsin. Please visit our nature preserve accessibility assessment page for more information.
All of The Nature Conservancy preserves on this Web site are open year-round, from dawn to dusk.
What You Can Do
The following activities are permitted on Conservancy preserves:
- Birdwatching (Download our brochure on the Top 10 Birds to see at Nature Conservancy Preserves.)
- Cross-country skiing
- Fishing - Fishing is allowed at most sites that can be publicly accessed. At the Conservancy's Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area, catch-and-release fishing with artificial bait is allowed at Lower Aimer, Knife and Bug lakes.
- Hunting – We allow hunting at many Conservancy preserves. For more information on hunting opportunities please see our Hunting Program web page.
- Nature study
- Videotaping for personal use (if for commercial use, must obtain permission from Chapter office in Madison-see below)
- EarthCaching, aka Virtual Caching, in which a container is not hidden on the property, is permitted at parking lots and entry ways or along trails with approval from Conservancy staff. Off-trail caching is not permitted.
What You Cannot Do
The following activities are not permitted on Conservancy preserves:
- Biking and mountain biking
- Driving an ATV or off-road vehicle
- Cooking or camp fires
- Geocaching (however Virtual or EarthCaching, is allowed. See above)
- Horseback riding
- Ice skating
- In general, we do not allow pets (even on a leash with the exception of service dogs). There are some exceptions for dogs during hunting season; see the Wisconsin hunting program FAQ page for details. We do welcome dogs at these preserves: Bass Lake, Caroline Lake, Catherine Wolter Wilderness Area, Tenderfoot Forest Reserve, Mink River and our Military Ridge Prairie Heritage Area preserves. Please visit the preserve pages for more information about our dog policy at each preserve. Information is also posted on the sign at each preserve entrance.
- Picking flowers, berries, nuts or mushrooms
- Removing any part of the natural landscape (shells, rocks, etc.)
- Rock or ice climbing
Respect Our Neighbors' Property
Please do not trespass on private property adjacent to Conservancy preserves. Property lines are clearly marked with small yellow signs featuring the Conservancy's logo.
We hope that you will enjoy a safe, interesting visit.
If you experience any vandalism or other problems, please contact our office.
For more information about The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin, contact our office, or stop by — we are located on the isthmus in downtown Madison, six blocks west of the capitol.
The Nature Conservancy
633 West Main Street
Madison, WI 53703
Tel: (608) 251-8140
Fax: (608) 251-8535
Office hours: Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
During the summer our office hours on Friday are 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon.