Twilight Treks Offer More Access to Nature Programs

Oak trees and savanna plants in fall

Wingra Oak Savanna in fall

Starting in August, the Arboretum will expand free public offerings with a new Twilight Treks series. Twilight Treks will highlight Arboretum ecosystems that are underused for educational programming, and the first treks will explore Wingra Oak Savanna, a mosaic of restored woodlands and wetlands located along the northwest shoreline of Lake Wingra. Participants will explore natural habitats, discover local flora and fauna, and learn Arboretum history, all while experiencing the transition from day to night. These leisurely naturalist-led walks are suitable for adults and families with children. Upcoming Twilight Treks will take place from 7 to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, August 1, September 12, and October 3.

A key component of the Arboretum’s mission is to foster lifelong learning about the environment. One way we advance this goal is through our free, naturalist-led hikes that take place Sunday afternoons and usually start at the Visitor Center, which is a mile or more from the west and east entrances. Depending on the season, visitors might listen for woodcocks, learn about blooming plants in Curtis Prairie, find turtles in Teal Pond, watch dragonflies over Icke Boardwalk, or take in a view of Big Spring. Naturalists also lead monthly night walks starting from the Visitor Center.

Recognizing that the Visitor Center is not a convenient starting location for everyone, Twilight Treks will be held in evenings at sites that can be reached by public transportation, driving, biking, or walking. Twilight Treks will also help cultivate partnerships with the neighborhoods and communities surrounding the 1,200-acre nature preserve and research site. In the future, we hope to expand Treks programming to the Grady Tract and Wingra Creek Path.

Participants don’t need to register for Twilight Treks in advance. Please wear sturdy closed-toe shoes and come prepared for the weather and insects. Walks will be canceled for unsafe weather or trail conditions. Meet at Arbor Dr. parking lot, off Monroe St. Madison Metro Transit route D buses stop nearby at Monroe St. and Glenway St. Bicycle parking available.

As we expand our free naturalist-led walks to more parts of the Arboretum, we hope you join us in exploration and lifelong learning!

—Maddie Smith, outreach specialist, and Anne Pearce, adult and community engagement coordinator