Pope Farm Park, Middleton, Wisc: Kid-Friendly Madison

With urban sprawl gobbling up large tracts of land west of Madison, how wise and thoughtful that the Pope family of the town of Middleton reserved this 105-acre park. Partially a functioning farm, the view of the Madison Capitol silhouette, grassland, age land and scenic oak savanna makes this park worth an outing.

Pope Farm Park Recessional Glaciers

Pope Farm Park invites visitors to discover the history of the glaciers, Native American accounts, and pioneer agricultural methods, and to saunter a pair of recessional moraines accumulated from the days of Ice Age glaciers. Slumping moraines are comprised of rock and soil deposits left where the glacier temporarily stopped as it withdrew. Worthwhile educational information is present along the way. The stone barrier bordering the hill is partially made up of rhyolite – an igneous volcanic rock; the nearest regional buildup of this stone is in the Lake Superior basin.

The length of the trail at Pope Farm Park is 2.9 miles, a tranquil loop configuration. Trail surface comprises mowed grass, some dirt, and cedar chip; trail traffic is generally light. No dogs are allowed at Pope Farm Park. The site is a work in progress, and trails will change and develop to meet the needs of the park’s topography and crops, so the landscape and map may vary from time to time. Access is limited to 7 a.m. to half an hour after sunset.

The trail commences up the hill along the edge of a stone fence on your left, passing prairie restoration on the way. At 750-feet, a scenic overlook and two small amphitheatres to the right fashioned with sitting stones and several educational signs. The view east stretches on for miles away. Woodsy and quiet, the start of the trail is populated by eclectic trees, young black walnuts and long-needled pines and occasional oaks. The oak savanna-heavy trail intersects a spillway constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps and is still utilized to seize the force of runoff. The footpath descends through predominately locust, cottonwood, and oak. Along the trail is a silent gully.

Pope Farm Park Directions:

Exit the Beltline Highway (US 12/14) at Old Sauk Road and go 2.2 miles west (left turn). The park entrance is on the right. You may park in the first parking lot on your left. The trailhead is at the northwest corner of the lot. Pope Farm Park is a great, easy, mellow hike just a short drive away from the town of Middleton.

Brian D’Ambrosio is the author of Madison For Dads: 101 Dad-Related Adventures.

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