Nearby Parks & Green Spaces

University of Wisconsin Arboretum

http://uwarboretum.org/

The University of Wisconsin Arboretum, located at 1207 Seminole Highway, is a 1280 acre ecological laboratory set aside for research and study of major plant communities indigenous to the Midwest.

Originally, the site of the Arboretum was set aside to remain an open space by realtors and others interested in enhancing property values in a rapidly developing area. However, with the failure of the Lake Forest Building Project in the 1920s (now known as the "Lost City") and the onset of the Depression, the area remained undeveloped. Efforts to acquire land for an arboretum were primarily due to UW Regent, Michael S. Olbrich, who unfortunately died before his dream was realized in 1935.

With the formation of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, there was a break with the traditional concept of arboreta as collections of plants in garden-like formal settings. The new Arboretum was to be, in the words of the famous early environmentalist Aldo Leopold, "A sample of what Dane county looked like when our ancestors arrived here." It was to preserve or, in some cases, recreate pre-settlement ecological communities native to Wisconsin such as the prairie, wetlands and oak and conifer forests. Today, 1,100 of the 1,280 acres is reserved for the horticultural collection.

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Forest Hill Cemetery

http://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/parks/cemetery

1 Speedway Rd. 266-4720

Forest Hill Cemetery, located at the edge of the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood at 1 Speedway Road, is a very special place. The cemetery, originally laid out in 1858, is an example of the mid-19th century phenomenon known as Rural Cemeteries. Our cemetery displays many characteristics of its more grand counterparts in the East. Forest Hill was originally set in the country with rolling hills that had picturesque vistas. Its layout is less formal and concern for nature is seen in the serpentine carriageways that followed the topography of the land. Many prominent early city and state figures are buried in Forest Hill Cemetary, some of whose graves are marked with obelisks, sphinxes, vases or columns. A Victorian High Gothic chapel was built in 1878.

These Rural or "Romantic" Cemeteries across the nation became popular tourist attractions in the previous century for strollers and picnickers who took advantage of the settings for relaxation, comtemplation and inspiration. In many areas, by showing the city dweller's need for recreational space, these Rural Cemeteries paved the way for the development of city parks.

Forest Hill Cemetery is now a city landmark and though not specifically a park, it is a wonderful place for peaceful walking and viewing the interesting architectural elements, Indian mounds, and historic markers.

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Hillington Green

http://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/parks/park.cfm?id=1204

435 Hillington

Hours

Park 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily.

A small neighborhood park nestled on a triangular shaped island between streets.

Attractions

  • Play Equipment
  • Ball Field for young Children

Regulations

No Dogs.

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Frank Hoyt Park

http://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/parks/park.cfm?id=1225

3902 Regent Street

Frank Hoyt Park is located northwest fo the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood at 3902 Regent Street. Frank Hoyt was a founder of the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association in 1894. The Hoyt Park site was originally an expansion in the late 1890s of Owen Parkway (now Owen Drive), the first of the pleasure drives developed by the Association. In 1924 and 1941 Frank Hoyt and his wife donated more land to expand the park.

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Nakoma Park

http://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/parks/park.cfm?id=1270

3801 Cherokee

Hours

Park 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily.

A small neighborhood park near Thoreau School in a pretty wooded setting.

Attractions

  • Play Area
  • Tennis Court
  • Picnic Area
  • Half Basketball Court

Regulations

No Dogs.

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Olive Jones Park (Randall School)

http://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/parks/park.cfm?id=1299

1810 Regent St.

Hours

Park 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily.

Small neighborhood park located near Randall School.

Attractions

  • Play Equipment
  • Half Basketball Court

Regulations

No Dogs.

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Wingra Springs (Duck Pond)

Nakoma Rd. (Part of UW Arboretum: http://wingrasprings.wordpress.com/ )

Hours

Park 4:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily.

A popular spot for all ages. Ducks are attracted to Spring Trail Pond because its natural springs are open year round. Mallard and domestic ducks are commonly seen at the pond as well as the occasional wood duck, black duck, Northern Shoveler and goose. In addition to the wildlife, Spring Trail Pond has a rich history.

Attractions

  • Ducks!
  • Entrance and wall designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Regulations

No Dogs.

Warning: Although those who feed the ducks may have the best intentions, it may no be beneficial to the ducks. Problems arise depending largely on what time of year ducks are fed and what they are offered to eat.

Autumn is the least desirable time to feed the ducks. Birds must migrate to milder climates in order to have a constant food source in winter. If ducks are fed, they may fail to migrate.

If ducks fill up on bread, instead of food that meets their nutritional requirements, they can starve. Wild bird seed, corn or other foods for wild birds are preferable to bread. Thank you.

A popular spot for all ages is the Arboretum duck pond, located off Nakoma Road near Monroe Street. Spring Trail Pond, its seldom-used official name, is fed by natural springs. These same springs once quenched the thirst of dusty travelers who stopped along the old stagecoach trail and were the water source for the early Spring Grove Tavern.  During the Depression years, the area was added to the Arboretum and the actual pond was created. As part of the same project, an entrance and wall designed by Frank Lloyd Wright were constructed.

Travelers still make use of the springs, but these days they happen to be of a fowl nature. Ducks are attracted to Spring Trail Pond because its natural springs are open year-round. Mallards and domestic ducks are commonly seen at the pond in vast numbers, wild wood ducks are only occasionally sighted, including black ducks, Northern Shovelers and even a goose or two.

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Vilas Park

http://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/parks/park.cfm?id=1365

1339 Vilas Park Drive

Vilas Park, located at 1339 Vilas Park Drive, is the largest of the area parks and also one of the oldest parks in Madison, given to the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association in 1904 by William F. Vilas and his wife Anna. It is named in memory or their young son, Henry Vilas. Originally the park had 60 acres: 25 dry acres and 35 acres of bog located on the north shore of Lake Wingra. The bog was subsequently dredged and landscaped into a series of lagoons by the landscape architect O.C. Simonds. The zoo was started in 1911 with the donation of five deer. Numerous contibutions since then have led to the zoo's expansion.

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Henry Vilas Zoo

http://www.vilaszoo.org/

1339 Vilas Park Drive 266-4732

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Lake Wingra

There are tales from early Madison settlers of abundant stands of wild rice, muskrat, turtles, water fowl and game fish on Lake Wingra. No wonder Wingra, meaning "Duck," was a major hunting and fishing ground of the Winnebago Indians. Legend says that when the last Indian leaves Lake Wingra's shores, the lake will disappear. Most of the Indian population left the lake after the Black Hawk War of 1832, but their teepees could be seen popping up every spring as late as the 1920s. 

Lake Wingra has not disappeared -- yet. However, the legend does have some basis in scientific fact. Wingra, a shallow (15 feet deep) glacial lake had been slowly filling in from the inflow of silt from the woodland and prairie, and from the decay of the luxuriant growth of water plants. Perhaps this is why the non-native settlers to the area referred to it as "Dead Lake". Left alone, this process, known as eutrophication, would have taken millenia. However, the eutrophication process was accelerated by man. Early farms in the Wingra watershed caused nutrient rich run-off from the corn fields and dairy yards to fertilize the lake, allowing for more plant growth. The most drastic change to the lakes came in the form of dredging and filling. Between 1836 and 1920, 3,797 acres of marshland had been drained and filled around the three city lakes, thus shrinking them by almost half.

Filling came from the tops of hills, destroying many Indian sites, by wagon loads of refuse, and by dredging sand off lake bottoms. Steam powered pumps were so powerful that they could suck 25 pound rocks up a 15 foot high tube, and in one day they would typically move several thousand cubic feet of sand.

Dredging on Lake Wingra began with the formation of the Vilas Park lagoons. However, in 1917, dredging for the ill-fated subdivision of Lake Forest was so extensive that the water level on Wingra was lowered by three feet. This nearly emptied the newly landscaped lagoons, and created an uproar among the residents in the suburb of Wingra Park. Lake Forest developers were forced to restore the level of the lake.

Today, there is no dredging. However, products of our urban life are still accelerating eutrophication. The surplus nutrients from our lawns, the phosphorus-rich autumn leaves, and sand road salt from gutters are being washed into the lake. The detention basin opposite Mallatt's on Monroe Street and the lagoon west of the Wingra boathouse catch some of the silt from the storm sewers, but not all of it. So the cattails flourish, turning lake shallows to marsh, then wetland, then shoreland. Lake Wingra keeps getting smaller and smaller.

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Wingra Park

http://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/parks/park.cfm?id=1384

824 Knickerbocker

Wingra Park is the neighborhood park. Located at 824 Knickerbocker, it is only a short walking distance from any location in the Dudgeon-Monroe neighborhood area. The 3-story Knickerbocker Ice House, built in 1895 originally occupied this site. Conklin Ice Company later purchased the ice house in the 1920s. The huge industrial building remained on the site until the late 1930s. In 1937 the city acquired the land and later developed Wingra Park. A Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Prairie Style boat house was constructed in 1991 to replace an earlier structure which had been destroyed by fire in 1989.

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Westmorland Park

http://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/parks/park.cfm?id=1376

4114 Tokay Blvd.

Westmorland Park, located at 4114 Tokay Boulevard, is located immediately to the west of the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood area. Compared to many of our city parks, Westmorland is a relative newcomer. In order to keep a green space in the rapidly developing area, the majority of its land was acquired by the city in 1954 with additions as late as 1981.

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