On the Trails: Spring Ephemerals and Seasonal Suggested Hikes

Bloodroot (Photo: Susan Day)

Bloodroot (Photo: Susan Day)

It’s hard to believe that after seemingly endless dark days of cold, ice, and snow, spring would ever come. Despite winter’s habit of overstaying its welcome, spring has returned to southern Wisconsin and the UW Arboretum – and with it a bounty of exciting activity on the trails!

Underneath all the snow, the first sprouts of spring have been waiting eagerly for the sun. Now is the time to catch the magnificent woodland ephemeral blooms as they welcome us into the season of new beginnings.

Ephemerals informational sign in Gallistel Woods (Photo: Em Janusz)

In Gallistel Woods, visitors will find interpretive signs to help them spot and identify some of the returning ephemeral plants. These signs mark places where spring ephemerals may be growing or blossoming, or where they have historically been located in the woods.

Our suggested hike trail routes also help visitors view all the majesty spring offers. Continuing our efforts from last fall, seasonal suggested hikes have been updated to three new routes that feature spring growth in Wingra Oak Savanna, Gallistel Woods, and Curtis Prairie. These hikes feature different distances and regions so that trail-goers can tailor their experience. Each has been designated its own color (either black, yellow, or red) and they are marked on the trail with corresponding colored arrow signs on existing trail marker posts. Maps detailing the suggested hikes may be viewed in the Visitor Center by the reception desk, and on the information kiosk outside the Visitor Center.

Example of seasonal route map (spring).

Spring is often a time of rain, puddles, and mud. Many low-lying or marsh-area trails may become too wet or muddy for use, and traveling on them can cause ruts, be hazardous, or increase off-trail travel. Please be aware that some trails may be temporarily closed while the ground is overly wet to help avoid further degradation to the trail and surrounding areas. Please help keep trail conditions in good standing by following all Arboretum rules, staying on marked trails, and not using trails marked as temporarily closed.

We hope you enjoy the suggested seasonal trail routes and all the exciting changes that come with spring at the Arboretum!

—Em Janusz, associate ranger