This summer, families can take a hike to two of Schlitz Audubon Nature Center’s newest wetlands: Dragonfly Pond and Molly’s Pond. They are just a short hike from the main building.
The two ponds were created in 2019 as part of the Stormwater Wetland and Ravine Restoration Project.
They both protect surrounding habitats and offer a refuge for native plants, amphibians, and waterfowl.
In the Spring, Shlitz Audubon’s volunteer wetland monitors discovered blue-spotted salamanders in Molly’s Pond, which are indicative of a healthy aquatic environment.
Now, a variety of native species like painted turtles, green frogs, bullfrogs, and aquatic plants have already begun to flourish there.
While hiking the new ponds, families can look for:
Tadpoles: On warm, sunny days, families can look for tadpoles in shallow waters, who may be swimming close to the surface in their hunt for insects, or resting in mud.
Frogs: From June through early August, you can listen closely for frogs singing. The bullfrog’s mating call is a deep ribbit, whereas the green frog makes a sound that sounds like the twang of a banjo.
Dragonflies: Hikers can also keep an eye out for the green darner dragonfly with bright green and blue bodies. The first batch of dragonflies transform into adults in early summer, and there is a second wave in September.
Both ponds are just a short hike from the main building.
Here are some other hikes to try:
Observation Tower: When it’s not rainy or snowy, you can walk a short quarter mile from the main building and climb the 60-ft Observation Tower for a spectacular view of the surrounding area including the lake.
Mystery Lake: Just a half mile from the main building, this hike has a new boardwalk and is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Frogs, wild turkeys, turtles, and waterlilies abound on this route. Have caution around the lake because there are no railings!
Lake Michigan Hike (For older children): The website suggests, “Take the paved trail down to Lake Michigan, and follow the sandy steps down to the beach. You can feel the lake breeze, and see if any gulls or ducks are out on the water. Continue on the North Lake Terrace Trail, stop by the new Milner Lake Michigan Viewing Deck for another great view of Lake Michigan, and then continue on and head up the wooded steps to return to the building.”
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center covers 185 acres of woodlands, prairies, ponds, and wetlands along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline in Bayside, Wisconsin (about a 10 minute drive north of downtown Milwaukee).
It’s open seven days a week. Check their website for updated hours.
Families can stop by their nature center for hands-on activities, live critters, and a reading nook with wooden rocking chairs.
Each Saturday and Sunday afternoon, you can see a bald eagle up close at their Word with a Bird program. They run special events throughout the year, too, such as their Fall Festival and Maple Sugaring Festival.
For your safety:
- Remain on designated trails and boardwalks.
- No collecting, hunting or fishing. Please enjoy nature, but do not take it home.
- Pack it in, pack it out.
- No pets; leashed, carried, or otherwise.
- No bikes on the trails.
- No swimming. The shoreline beach is not tested for water quality, and swimming could be dangerous.