Three years ago I noticed several posts on Facebook about a Sunflower Festival taking place near Middleton, WI. I was intrigued. But by the time I remembered to look it up, I was too late. The festival had passed, and the sunflowers were beyond their peak. The following year I made a point to add the event to my calendar so I wouldn't miss it. It was definitely worth saving the date!
Pope Farm Conservancy is 105 acres that sit on top of three recessional moraines in the Town of Middleton, Wisconsin, where three different watersheds come together. In addition to six prairie restoration projects, a Native American garden, eight miles of walking trails, and numerous picnic areas, late summer brings Sunflower Days, with 9 acres of blooming sunflowers (roughly 500,000) beneath bright summer skies.
The conservancy is worth a visit any day - it's open daily, sunrise to sunset. But 9 acres of peak sunflower blooms are a sight to see. And, so, Sunflower Days is held each summer season during peak bloom.
People come from near and far to witness this sunflower show. Birds come for the seeds. Last year I saw several Indigo Buntings darting in and out of the fields. Many different grassland birds frequent the conservancy as well.
This year peak bloom is anticipated for mid-August. Sunflower Days will be held from August 12-20. The event is free, but plan ahead - read up on the event, rules, parking details and more at the Pope Conservancy website. You're also encouraged to visit their Facebook page for updates as the event gets closer.
Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the view, wear your hiking shoes and tackle the trails, or just come for the sensational sight of 500,000 sunflowers in bloom. But bring your camera. You're gonna wanna get a picture of this.
Sometimes you just want to see a waterfall. And, maybe not have to drive 3 hours from Milwaukee to see one. Believe it or not, there are waterfalls in the Milwaukee area, and some within an hour of the city as well. They might not be the biggest waterfalls; sometimes, quite honestly, little more than a trickle. But if you're really hankerin' for a waterfall view, check out these local sites.
Wehr Nature Center
No visit to Wehr Nature Center seems complete without visiting its waterfall. Located within Whitnall Park, it's nearby, has over five miles of trails linking the Center with Woodland, Wetland, Prairie, Oak Savanna and Lake. There are birds, turtles, ducks, fish, deer, and more to be seen along the trails. Trails are well maintained, and everyone at the Center itself is very helpful. A hot day spent by the cool waterfall is a day well spent. For more information, visit http://www.friendsofwehr.org/
Located along the parkway going through Whitnall Park, adjacent to Boerner Botanical Gardens, are two small waterfalls. One stems from a small pond (frequented by ducks and geese), the other is across the street from the same spot. Not as dramatic as the falls at Wehr Nature Center, but scenic and peaceful just the same. This area is a birding hotspot, so keep your eyes and ears alert. Lots of birds visit this area during spring and fall migration, and several nest here as well. For a map of the park, click here.
Sauk Creek Nature Preserve
I just discovered Sauk Creek Preserve last summer. Just outside of Port Washington, less than an hour from Milwaukee - once on the entrance path, you hear the rushing waterfall. There's a bridge over the creek with a great view of the waterfall, and trails before and after the bridge that lead to the waterfall and the creek. Woodland and prairie trails draw you in, and wildlife is abundant. The day I was there I saw several Indigo Buntings, a hummingbird, and several other songbirds. Dragonflies, deer, and wildlflowers abound as well. For more information, click here.
Even those familiar with Greenfield Park, in West Allis, are often surprised to find out that there is a waterfall there. I'd been hiking the trails there for years before I discovered it. The waterfall isn't big, but it is scenic. And hidden from the road through the park. So you'll need to look for it. It's on the north side of the street, across from the east part of the lagoon. The waterfall flows into the small lagoon on the north side of the street. In the past year or so the parks department has cleared away some of the trees and debris surrounding the waterfall, so it's easier to get to. The water flow is often heavier after a good rain. There are some nice hiking trails just to the west of the waterfall, too. For a map of Greenfield Park, click here.
A traveler, singer, novice photographer, humane gardener, and nature lover.