at Baxter's Hollow, Baraboo Hills, Wisconsin.
Otter Creek at Baxter's Hollow, Baraboo Hills, Wisconsin. © Steve S. Meyer

Places We Protect

Baxter's Hollow

Wisconsin

Baxter's Hollow is the Conservancy's largest preserve in Wisconsin.

Why You Should Visit

Remarkable for the large area of deep forest and the mountain-like creek that it protects, Baxter's Hollow is the Conservancy's largest preserve in Wisconsin. Despite years of human habitation, this area still seems wild and untouched.

Spring is an especially good time to visit: the wildflowers are in bloom and the migratory songbirds have returned from their wintering grounds in Latin America.

Location

South Central Wisconsin: Sauk County between Sauk City and Baraboo — about 45 minutes north of Madison

Conditions

The unmarked trail is very primitive. Off-trail conditions are very rocky.

Some parcels of land within the preserve remain in private ownership — please do not trespass. The preserve boundaries are marked with small, yellow signs featuring The Nature Conservancy logo.

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.

Baxter's Hollow is an important site for at least two reasons: it contains a good portion of the Otter Creek watershed, and it provides the deep woods that forest songbirds need.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

Since 1969, The Nature Conservancy has steadily been acquiring parcels of land here. Currently, the Conservancy owns a total of 5,752 acres, making it the largest preserve in the Baraboo Hills.

Private landowners in the Baraboo Hills have been important to the Conservancy's preservation efforts at Baxter's Hollow, making cooperative conservation of this critical bird and wildlife habitat possible.

What to See: Plants

In spring, a variety of wildflowers bloom in the forest, including

  • Jacob's ladder and marsh marigold in low-lying spots;
  • carpets of spring beauty, dogtooth violet, and hepatica on hillsides; and
  • shooting stars and alum root in the glades.

The rich forest covering Baxter's Hollow is part of Wisconsin's largest intact southern deciduous forest. You can see oak, hickory, maple, ash, yellow birch, white pine, maple and basswood.

What to See: Birds

More than 40 species of birds breed here, making the Hollow one of the most important nesting areas for forest-dwelling birds in southern Wisconsin. Birds that are rare in the state — such as the Worm-eating Warbler and the Hooded Warbler — can be found here.

What to See: Otter Creek

Otter Creek is the thread that ties the preserve together. The creek is home to a rich collection of aquatic life rare in Wisconsin, including the pickerel frog and at least five species of caddisflies found in few other places.

PLAN YOUR VISIT

For more information about visiting the preserve, please follow the links below: