Experience the wonder of nature

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Late Summer Wildflower Walk

Click image to download trail map

Click image to download trail map

Our trails are open during the coronavirus pandemic.

Guests and the public are welcome to explore the nature trails at Holy Wisdom Monastery and the North Mendota Wildlife Area, which is adjacent to Holy Wisdom and maintained by the monastery. Restored tall grass native prairie dominates the landscape, and vistas overlooking Lake Mendota and the city of Madison are breathtaking. Please help us sustain quiet and contemplative grounds during your visit by following these rules:

  • No dogs or other pets
  • Stay on designated trails
  • Pick up liter
  • No camping, fishing, biking, driving on trails
  • No fires, unless approved in advance
  • Do not pick or remove any plants

Tick season

This is a reminder that it is tick season. Here are a few tips for preventing tick bites:

  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas with high grass
  • Walk in the center of trails when hiking
  • Tuck long pants into socks
  • Use repellent
  • Check for ticks on skin and clothes after hiking

There are two kinds of ticks in Wisconsin, the deer tick (very tiny) and the wood tick. The deer tick sometimes carries Lyme disease and these ticks can infect you with their bite. Lyme disease can cause a ring-shaped rash, fever, flu-like symptoms and tiredness. (Some people think the rash looks like a bull’s-eye.) Symptoms usually occur within a month of being bit by an infected tick. If you think you’ve been bitten and infected with Lyme disease, call your doctor.

For more information, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/tick/lyme.htm

Come and explore the nature trails

You will see, smell, hear and touch 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. 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.

Caring for the earth

In 1953, the Benedictine sisters set down roots on a hill overlooking Lake Mendota and the skyline of Madison, Wisconsin. The original 40 acres consisted of farmland cleared in the early 1900s. Today, Holy Wisdom Monastery includes 130 acres with a 10,000-year-old glacial lake, one of the ‘greenest’ LEED-certified buildings in the country, wooded nature trails, restored prairie, gardens, orchards and the beginning of an oak savanna. In July 2017 the sisters received the international Assisi Award from the Society for Conservation Biology for the environmental efforts spanning more than 65 years at Holy Wisdom. Caring for the earth is part of the mission, rooted in Benedictine values of stability and respect for all of creation. The sisters, in partnership with coworkers, hundreds of volunteers, agencies and organizations, do their part to protect nearby Lake Mendota and preserve an oasis of quiet beauty where all are welcome.