- Natural areas
- Contact information
- For information on State Natural Areas, contact:
- Thomas Meyer
Natural areas conservation biologist
Wisconsin State Natural Areas Program Pewits Nest (No. 200)
Sauk County. T11N-R6E, Section 9. 34 acres.
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 forest. When Glacial Lake Baraboo drained, Skillet Creek cut a narrow canyon through the Cambrian sandstone, forming a series of potholes and 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: 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 small parking area south of the road.
Visitation Guidelines: Pewit's Nest is open daily 6:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. Food and beverage are not allowed in the natural area. Please help protect this sensitive resource: Climbing on or jumping from rocks is prohibited.
Pewits Nest is owned by:
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.
Manage the site as a geological feature protection site, a cliff community protection area, and as an historic feature protection site. Natural processes will primarily determine the structure of the gorge and cliff communities. Provide opportunities for research and education on the highest quality geological features and cliff communities.
Natural processes will determine the gorge and cliff community ecological characteristics. Remnants of the old grist mill historic feature will be left on-site for interpretation. Other allowable activities include control of invasive plants and animals, maintenance of existing facilities, and access to suppress wildfires. Salvage of trees after a major wind event can occur if the volume of woody material inhibits access for geological interpretation.
- Roadside easement areas may be managed sporadically by the designated local, county or state managers
- Public access is limited to a primitive trail.
- Rock scrambling, diving from rocks and graffiti have diminished the geological interpretation values of the site.
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.
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.
- Cross country skiing
- 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
For rules governing state-owned SNAs and other state lands, please consult Chapter NR 45 Wis. Admin. Code [exit DNR]