Open to the Public
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.
South Central Wisconsin: Sauk County between Sauk City and Baraboo — about 45 minutes north of Madison
Open year-round, dawn to dusk
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 5,636 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.
Click here to take a birding trip by car through the Baraboo Hills.
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.
Please see "Preserve Visitation Guidelines"
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,” Baxter's Hollow Preserve has completed an assessment of our public areas and trails. While some types of OPDMDs can be accommodated, there are necessary restrictions on their use. Please download and review the policy prior to your visit.
- Take US Hwy 12 northwest of Sauk City for 7.5 miles to intersection with Cnty Hwy C (across from Badger Army Ammunition Plant).
- Turn left (west) on Cnty C and travel 1.5 miles to intersection with Stones Pocket Road.
- Turn right (north) on Stones Pocket; drive 1.25 miles where you will enter the preserve.
- Continue north and park at one of the designated parking areas along the road.
- Note: Stones Pocket Road (the road leading into Baxter’s Hollow) is a public town road maintained by the Township of Sumpter. The Nature Conservancy has no authority over when the gate on Stones Pocket Road is opened or closed. The gate is typically closed in late fall or early winter (usually when we’re expected to get a measurable snowfall) and remains locked until springtime when snow has fully melted.
All of our preserve maps are now georeferenced. You can download an app on your Apple or Android device, and it will allow you to view your location, record GPS tracks, add placemarks and find places.