2. Governor Nelson State Park

2. Governor Nelson State Park

The few inches of snow we had earlier in January melted, followed by unusually warm temperatures and rain. But, the forecast was a significant snowstorm and very cold temperatures were on the way. Time to get in one more hike before snow comes for the rest of the winter – Governor Nelson State Park on January 18. It was a cloudy day, with temperature in the low 20’s. Sure looked like the forecast was right and snow was on its way.

Along Morningside Trail
The little stream that the Monrningside Trail crosses leads to Lake Mendota

Gov. Nelson is a relatively small semi-urban park: 422 acres on the north shore of Lake Mendota, just outside of Middleton and across the lake from Madison. For such a small park, it’s fairly diverse. It has effigy mounds, a boat ramp, picnic area and a beach for dogs to use, along with about 5 miles of trails. The trails go through wooded areas, by the beach and across prairies.

There’s an outer loop circuit of trails that covers all the terrain in 3.6 miles. That’s the loop I did, along with the short loop to the panther effigy mound. The trails in the wooded areas had some ice, left over from snow melt and rain. The trails were wide enough to walk around the icy areas without widening the trail. Overall, a very nice day for a hike. Very brown, but it’s the middle of January with no snow on the ground!

trailside tree fungus
It was a good day for looking closely: tree fungus

As with the visit to New Glarus Woods State Park earlier this month, I met nobody on the trails. I did see a few people in the parking lots or along the beach, but I had the trails all to myself.

As I was leaving the park, there were snow flakes in the air. Got home in time to take the dogs for a walk during a light snowfall. Over night, the snow intensified, and by morning we had about 7 inches. Time to switch to the snowshoes!


Leave a Comment