Experience the wonder of nature

Click image to download trail map

Click image to download trail map

Guests are invited to experience the wonder of nature on the trails at Holy Wisdom Monastery. Careful attention is taken here to preserve the grounds to pre-settlement conditions. There are four miles of nature trails (see descriptions below) perfect for a brisk hike or a contemplative walk. Stroll through restored prairies, orchards, wetlands and oak woods. In the winter trails can be used for cross country skiing. The quiet peaceful setting helps enhance your visit here.

Come and explore the nature trails

You will see, smell, hear, touch and even taste the bounty of God’s creation as you walk our nature trails. Breathe in the fragrance of the forest and prairie. Watch for coyotes, fox, deer, great blue heron, pheasant, turkey and other wildlife. Listen to the song of the indigo bunting, yellow-throated warbler, bluebird and cardinal. Touch the delicate textures of the wood fern. Then taste the wild blackberries and mulberries or a flavorful apple from our orchard. The grounds are home to a diverse ecosystem of plants, fish, animals, humans and other creatures living in a harmonious environment. We take special care of the land for the education of today’s guests and to preserve it for future generations.

Read about what you might see on your walk, and tell us what you see, in our monthly phenology blog.

Help us maintain these peaceful grounds—join the Friends of Wisdom Prairie today!

Each trail is marked with a different symbol to help guide your walk. Download the nature trail map.

Lost Lake Nature TrailLost Lake Trail: 0.7 mile

As you descend this trail, a glacial kettle lake hidden beyond the hillside appears. It attracts abundant wildlife and offers you a place for solitude and reflection. At the lakeshore, a tall-grass blend of wet prairie and sedge meadow species extends upland. This trail passes in front of the monastery which is edged with prairie on one side and an oak-hickory woods on the other. Near the main entry drive, this trail meets up with the Mendota Prairie Trail.

Oak Nature TrailOak Trail: 0.7 mile

This trail follows along the upper ridge until you reach a woodland trail loop through mature oak trees. You can see some of the characteristic trees of oak savannas, with their outstretched branches, along the woodland edge as the trail dips down. At the half-way point, this trail branches off to the North Prairie Trail and opens to a sunny savanna scene.

North Prairie Nature TrailNorth Prairie Trail: 2.0 miles

This trail gradually curves down a northwest-facing secluded hillside through groves of young walnuts, oaks and evergreens planted in an abandoned agricultural field. The path reaches an expanse of prairie with a vista of scattered oak trees on the distant ridge that characterize our savanna landscape.

The trail traverses prairies planted between 1997 and 2001, with an option to return via the Oak Trail. Located midway around the North Prairie is a detention basin created in 1996 as part of a Lake Mendota Priority Watershed Project. It buffers the impact of surface water runoff that flows east into Lake Mendota. As you walk the return portion of the prairie loop, the oak woodland comes into full view. It is especially colorful in fall, but enjoyable in any season.

Mendota Prairie Nature TrailMendota Prairie Trail: 0.3 mile

This trail offers a panoramic view of Lake Mendota and the Madison skyline. Winding down a south-facing sunny slope, the trail descends 70 feet through a restoration that exemplifies the diversity of our local prairie flora. The lower plateau was seeded with the help of volunteers and staff in the fall of 2003, continuing with the mid-slope in 2004 and the hilltop portion in 2005-2006. Near the main entry drive, the trail meets up with the Lost Lake Trail.

It is our hope that all who experience Holy Wisdom Monastery’s grounds will respect and nurture this quiet harmony by following trail guidelines:

  • Stay on designated trails
  • Help us maintain litter-free grounds
  • No camping, fishing, biking, driving on trails
  • No dogs
  • No fires, unless approved in advance
  • Do not pick or remove any plants

For more information contact Greg Armstrong at 608-836-1631, x123.