Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Pine Hallow State Natural Area: Thomas Meyer

Pine Hallow State Natural Area
Thomas Meyer

December 2014

Wisconsin, naturally

Pine Hollow State Natural Area

Thomas A. Meyer, State Natural Areas Program

Notable: Of the many ecological gems in the Baraboo Hills, Pine Hollow is among the most lovely and diverse. This State Natural Area, owned by The Nature Conservancy since 1964, features a wooded gorge cut deeply into the sandstone and quartzite bedrock on the south flank of the ancient Baraboo range. Cliff walls up to 80 feet high and a large, overhanging rock ledge that once served as shelter for Native Americans, add geological interest to the preserve's scenic qualities. Hemlock, yellow birch and red maple grow on the floor of the cool ravine, while the uplands support a forest of red and white oaks. Large white pines perch on the rim of the hollow. Ferns, liverworts and mosses — including the rare Bryoxiphium sword moss — cling to the moist cliff faces. Also look there for the rare Sullivant's coolwort, an interesting member of the Saxifrage family, growing in the rock fissures.

During especially cold winters, water seeping through crevices in the cliff face creates huge icicles and a striking 15–foot high frozen "waterfall." The ice appears an appealing blue, owing to the preferential absorption of the red end of the light spectrum. Return to the natural area after snowmelt to enjoy the variety of spring wildflowers, including several types of native orchids. Birders may encounter Canada warbler, Louisiana waterthrush, Acadian flycatcher and other species of birds that require large blocks of forest in which to breed.

How to get there: From the junction of County Highways PF and C in Leland (Sauk County), go east on County Highway C for 2.9 miles, then north on Pine Hollow Road for 1.5 miles. Park on the road shoulder and walk due west into the preserve. Be advised that there are no hiking trails and the slope down into the hollow is steep and rocky. Visit dnr.wi.gov and search "Pine Hallow State Natural Area" for a map and more information.