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Explore
the MacKenzie Center property.
Learn
new outdoor skills and participate in environmental education.
Plan
a day program or overnight field trip to the MacKenzie Center. (Educator materials)
Contact information
For more information about the MacKenzie Center, contact:
MacKenzie Center
W7303 County Highway CS
Poynette WI 53955
608-635-8105

MacKenzie Center Explore the property

The MacKenzie Center has a variety of habitat types that provide a wonderful place for hands-on outdoor activities, family and group outings and learning about the environment. The Center features nature trails, a wildlife exhibit, museums, fire tower, picnic area, an arboretum and more! Several of the trails and exhibits are handicap accessible.

Trail in winter

MacKenzie's interpretive trails pass through a variety of habitats, including woodlands and prairies.

Trails

There are many self-guiding, interpretive trails to explore at MacKenzie. The Nature Trail begins near the main parking lot and winds through the woods connecting to the logging museum and wildlife exhibit. The arboretum trail begins just past the conservation museum and goes uphill back to the main parking lot, passing through the heart of the sugarbush.

The trail system at the south end of the property is about 0.5 miles from the main parking area. The southern trail system has five, interpretive trails that can be explored, one of which is wheelchair accessible. MacKenzie Center property map [PDF].

Picnic area and shelter

The MacKenzie Center has a nice picnic area with a reservable shelter to accommodate visitors. The shelter has electricity available. The restrooms at the picnic area are open seasonally. Please contact the MacKenzie Center office if you are interested in reserving the shelter. Picnic shelter reservation application [PDF].

Picnic shelter

MacKenzie has a nice picnic area and shelter for family or group outings.

Wildlife exhibit

A wildlife exhibit at MacKenzie houses live animals native to Wisconsin, including bison, deer, gray wolves, lynx, river otter, red fox, raptors and coyote. All of the animals in the exhibit were injured, orphaned or raised in captivity and cannot be released into the wild. The animals are cared for as part of an educational exhibit, providing students and the public an opportunity to see and learn more about the animals that are part of Wisconsin's ecological community.

The MacKenzie Center operates under a "Hands-off" philosophy, only handling animals for transport or veterinary care. The MacKenzie Center does not accept injured, orphaned or sick wildlife from the public. Please contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator if you find an injured or orphaned wild animal.

The wildlife exhibit grounds are the permanent home for these animals, and respect for their space is necessary for their health. Please do not tease or feed the animals as they require specific dietary needs. Please stay behind the perimeter fences in the exhibit.

Logging museum

The logging museum is located in a log home that was built in the early 1880s near Granstburg. Inside are images of Wisconsin's logging industry in the late 19th century, historic tools used for timber harvests and two dioramas depicting logging practices.

Logging museum
Displays about Wisconsin's logging past are housed at the MacKenzie Center.

Sawmill exhibit

The sawmill exhibit near the logging museum provides an opportunity to see how lumber was processed in the early days of Wisconsin's booming lumber industry. The white pine log in the display was 250 years old when it was harvested - long before Wisconsin was even a state.

Conservation museum

Paul Bunyan and his ox, Babe, greet you as you enter the conservation museum. Here you can learn about Wisconsin's conservation legacy along with a variety of topics including wildlife management, environmental health, bird and fish identification, resource management and more.

Observation tower

MacKenzie's 80-foot tall fire tower has been relocated to MacKenzie from the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds in West Allis. The observation platform at 40 feet above the ground (the highest point accessible to the public) provides a good view of the MacKenzie property and surrounding countryside. This tower is not in active use, but gives visitors a feel for a method of fire detection that dates back to the beginning of the U.S. Forest Service in 1905. Please remember to use caution while climbing the tower.

Arboretum

Harley MacKenzie planted a wide variety of species from across the world at MacKenzie. Over 100 tree species are found in the arboretum and some trees are tagged with their common and scientific names to help identify them. A guide book is available that provides information about the arboretum's history, invasive species, basic tree identification and the GPS coordinates of some tree species at the property.

Sugarbush

Harley MacKenzie planted enough maple trees in the arboretum to create a "sugarbush" - an area where maple trees are tapped to collect the sap and produce syrup or sugar. Each spring the MacKenzie sugarbush produces around 35-40 gallons of pure maple syrup, also known as "MacKenzie Gold". The annual MacKenzie Maple Syrup Festival is held the first Saturday of April.

Pond

MacKenzie's pond can be a great place to sit and listen to the call of songbirds, observe the tracks of animals or listen to frog calls in the spring and early summer. It is a wonderful resource to visit and learn about food webs, predator-prey relationships, adaptations of pond organisms and aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Resources are available to organized groups to facilitate these learning opportunities.

Pond exploration
Students can learn about aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems at MacKenzie's pond.

Prairies

There are many prairie restorations at the MacKenzie Center. The best place for visitors to see MacKenzie's prairie restoration efforts is at the south trail system parking lot where hiking paths wind through a restored section of prairie. An interpretive panel helps identify the different prairie plants. Depending on the season, you may come across remnants of a prairie burn - an important component of prairie ecosystem restoration.

Last revised: Wednesday January 25 2017