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For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
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Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Pewits Nest (No. 200)

Pewits Nest

Photo by Rick Livingston

Resource links:

** New closed area **


Overview

NEW CLOSED AREA: Portions of Pewit's Nest are closed as of June 2017 to all public access to protect public safety and natural features. See the property map on this web page and signs posted at the site that delineate the closed area. The public is no longer able to access the cliff walls nor the upstream (east) end to gain entry into the gorge. Climbing on rock walls, cliff jumping or entering the closed area for any reason is prohibited, and violators will be subject to a citation. The temporary signs marking the closed area will eventually be replaced with rustic, permanent barriers and walkways that will be more aesthetically fitting for the site.

Location

Sauk County. T11N-R6E, Section 9. 34 acres.

Description

Description

The dominant feature at Pewits Nest is a 30- to 40-foot deep gorge formed during the retreat of the last glacier. Associated with it are Skillet Creek, shaded cliffs, and a northern dry-mesic pine forest. When Glacial Lake Baraboo drained, Skillet Creek cut a narrow canyon through the Cambrian sandstone, forming a series of potholes and low waterfalls. The layers of Cambrian sandstone show that a finer-grained sediment was laid down by the Cambrian seas "inside" the syncline, a process different from that at Parfrey's Glen where coarser Cambrian conglomerates and sandstones are found in layers. Skillet Creek has a gradient of 38 feet/mile and an average flow of 0.8 cfs. Within and above the gorge grows a narrow fringe of forest dominated by red cedar, white pine, hemlock, and yellow birch.

H.E. Cole wrote of the area:
"At one time the jaws at the mouth of the nest supported a great iron shaft, a cumbersome overshot waterwheel. . . . Before the building of the mill, an individual lived in the solid sandstone, like a gnome in a cavern. His abode was some ten feet above a deep pool of water. This dwelling resembled the nest of a phoebe (or peewit, an earlier name for this bird), hence dubbed by early settlers the 'Peewit's Nest.'"

This person used the water to turn lathes for repairing or manufacturing equipment. No evidence of this remains. Pewits Nest is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 1985.

Access

Driving directions

Access: From the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and County W in southwest Baraboo, go west and south on W 1.5 miles to a parking area south of the road.

NEW CLOSED AREA: Portions of Pewit's Nest are closed as of June 2017 to all public access to protect public safety and natural features. See the property map on this web page and signs posted at the site that delineate the closed area. The public is no longer able to access the cliff walls nor the upstream (east) end to gain entry into the gorge. Climbing on rock walls, cliff jumping or entering the closed area for any reason is prohibited, and violators will be subject to a citation. The temporary signs marking the closed area will eventually be replaced with rustic, permanent barriers and walkways that will be more aesthetically fitting for the site.

Pewit's nest is open daily from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Food and beverages, fires, rock climbing, and jumping into the water from the cliffs are strictly prohibited.

Ownership

Pewits Nest is owned by:

  • WDNR

Maps

The DNR's state natural areas program is comprised of lands owned by the state, private conservation organizations, municipalities, other governmental agencies, educational institutions and private individuals. While the majority of SNAs are open to the public, access may vary according to individual ownership policies. Public use restrictions may apply due to public safety, or to protect endangered or threatened species or unique natural features. Lands may be temporarily closed due to specific management activities. Users are encouraged to contact the landowner for more specific details.

The data shown on these maps have been obtained from various sources, and are of varying age, reliability, and resolution. The data may contain errors or omissions and should not be interpreted as a legal representation of legal ownership boundaries.

Management

Management objectives and prescriptions

Recreation

Very few State Natural Areas have public facilities, but nearly all are open for a variety of recreational activities as indicated below. Generally, there are no picnic areas, restrooms, or other developments. Parking lots or designated parking areas are noted on individual SNA pages and maps. Trails, if present, are typically undesignated footpaths. If a developed trail is present, it will normally be noted on the SNA map and/or under the "Access" tab. A compass and topographic map or a GPS unit are useful tools for exploring larger, isolated SNAs.

Allowable activities

In general, the activities listed below are allowed on all DNR-owned SNA lands. Exceptions to this list of public uses, such as SNAs closed to hunting, are noted under the "Access" tab above and posted with signs on site.

  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Cross country skiing
  • Hunting
  • Trapping

Prohibited activities

  • Horseback riding
  • Rock climbing
  • Vehicles, including bicycles, ATVs, aircraft, and snowmobiles except on trails and roadways designated for their use
  • Collecting of animals (other than legally harvested species), non-edible fungi, rocks, minerals, fossils, archaeological artifacts, soil, downed wood, or any other natural material, alive or dead. Collecting for scientific research requires a permit issued by the DNR
  • Collecting of plants including seeds, roots or other non-edible parts of herbaceous plants such as wildflowers or grasses
  • Camping and campfires
  • Geocaching

For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR]

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Last revised: Monday, June 19, 2017