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Dane County Chapter Hike – Eastern Lodi Marsh / Lodi Marsh Segments
May 15 @ 1:00 pm
Photo Credit: Jo Ellarson
Eastern Lodi Marsh
Eastern Lodi Marsh starts at the Robertson Trailhead on Lodi-Springfield Road and goes through alternating woods and prairie, reaching the blue-blazed spur trail to the Twin Pines Trailhead, before continuing through a large prairie opening with magnificent views of the Lodi Marsh and bluffs in the distance. Continuing on and upwards, the trail enters woods and passes a spur trail to a Dispersed Camping Area (DCA) as the trail climbs to exit the woods into “Dave’s View”.
“Dave’s View” looking straight west offers a view to the striking U-shaped cut between Center Bluff and the bluff to the north. It is believed this was formed by a large under-glacier river draining meltwater toward the ice margin near the Sauk City area. Further on is open prairie where countless hours and ongoing efforts of local volunteers have restored and maintained several hundred acres of prairie and oak savanna. Bring a wildflower guild to identify the immense variety of prairie flowers. Look for whitetail deer, wild turkeys, pheasants, eastern meadowlarks, red-tailed hawks, and bluebirds.
Lodi Marsh starts at the Robertson Trailhead on Lodi-Springfield Road and travels along the edge of the marsh, through a lowland prairie and over limestone bedrock ridges and drumlins shaped by the Green Bay Lobe, a portion of the most recent ice sheet that flowed from Green Bay toward Madison 18,000 years ago. Lodi Marsh is a large, mostly open wetland complex located in a valley partially filled with glacial till and contains diverse community types and over `160 native plant species. The wetland borders the headwaters and upper two miles of Spring Creek, which includes numerous springs and spring runs, a southern sedge meadow and cattail marsh.
After the first dip, the segment passes through a beautifully restored oak savanna with large open-growth burr oaks and hickory. Volunteers have worked to keep this area brush free and “oak friendly”. Keep an eye on the marsh for recent beaver activity, as new dam has been forming. While previously the trail would “drop into a wet prairie that is frequently saturated”, the muddy mess is avoided (as of 4/2022) by a new 400+ ft long boardwalk that offers expanded views of the marsh. From here the segment ascends through a restored prairie, intersecting a blue-blazed connector trail. The prairie contains such plants as big and little bluestem, Indian grass, showy goldenrod, sky blue aster and the state-threatened prairie thistle.
In total, we’ll have a 6-7 mile moderate difficulty hike on the both Eastern Lodi Marsh Segment and the Lodi Marsh Segment of the Ice Age Trail. This scenic hike will go through woods and prairies starting on the Eastern segment the first portion is an out and back to the County Line that will be a bit over 4 miles. After returning to the parking area, those wanting more can hike the shorter Lodi Marsh segment. A portion of this is a loop trail (unless we want to walk the road and make it all a loop). This portion is about 2 miles and will feature the new boardwalk installed in April to eliminate about 400 feet of wet trail. This part overlooks the marsh and crosses over and around a nice drumlin left behind by the last glaciers.
Take State Highway 113 west ~2 miles past the town of Dane to turn left (west) on Lee Rd. for ~1.5 miles and turn right (north) on Lodi-Springfield Rd ~0.8 miles to the Robertson Trailhead kiosk on the west side of the road. If the parking lot is full, park on the west side of Lodi-Springfield Rd with all wheels off the road.