by Laura Kocum
on Thursday, September 14th, 2017 at 7:55am.
One of the fantastic features of many Madison neighborhoods is the conservation parks that are designed nearby. Prairie Ridge Conservation Park is a perfect example. Located on the city's southwest side, Prairie Ridge offers just over a mile of natural trails, and connects Skyview Meadows/Westhaven Trails and Ice Age Falls. The neighborhoods are built around it, but the views make you feel like you're out in the country.
The trail opens next to Raymond Ridge Park. It offers a mowed walking space between natural prairie. The views change with the seasons, as different plants bloom and grow.
Trails are open for hikers, but signs ask you to leave pets at home. The trail turns in a few different directions.
You can make it a short walk, and arrive at the Raymond Ridge Park and Playground. Or, you can veer left, and connect to the longer, winding trail that offers a more natural setting.
Walk to the gated entrance and you're greeted with gorgeous views of the rolling hills to the west. The trail moves downhill, then uphill, and includes more prairie, a pond, and a forested area.
To the south you will find Ice Age Falls. Head east, and you'll be back by the playground at Raymond Ridge Park, and Skyview Meadows.
The City of Madison manages this park. It began as farmland, but when it was acquired by the city, it was returned to a natural prairie state. As work continued on the land, it was discovered that Prairie Bush Clover grows here. This is an endangered plant in Wisconsin, and is only known to grow in 20 different locations.
This park is a natural gem, and a perfect example of Madison's work to preserve the environment, while making livable neighborhoods around it.