Festge Park

Photographed July 10, 2015
Erected 1976 by Dane County Natural History Marker System
Cross Plains, Dane County, Wisconsin
43.119781,-89.689856 (roadway leading to park entrance)
43.122342,-89.684964 (park entrance)
43.119471,-89.686486 (marker location at overlook)

You are looking across a deep preglacial valley. Once glacial meltwaters drained west to the Wisconsin River, depositing sand and gravel brought south to Middleton by the giant ice sheets. Today, winding through this unglaciated outwash plain is Black Earth Creek -- Dane County's most productive trout stream.

Although aided by fish stocking and habitat improvement, the creek's greatest asset is the abundant flow of cold spring water filtering through the gravel. This rapid flow turns high water fertility, from farmland and sewage, into fish food. The creek's flow keeps oxygen high and temperatures low while also scouring away mud and silt from the gravel bottom -- necessities for trout reproduction. The evergreen plantings along the creek mark the birthplace of Madison Schools' Outdoor "Work-Learn" Conservation Program.

Bordering the valley, the dolomite limestone bluffs support oak woods which date from the first days of fire protection in settlement times. Where conditions are too dry for oaks, lime-loving red cedars of interesting sizes and shapes have come in as grazing reduced the grass cover, as on the slope below. Restoring the drouth-resistant prairie on this dry, sunny slope could link the park to the strip of unplowed presettlement prairie which still exists along the railroad below. This is desirable now that prairie plants are rare, and there is much interest in replanting them.
The marker is located at the Festge Park overlook in Cross Plains, Wisconsin. The entrance to the park is on northbound Scherbel Road, about a mile north of its intersection with U.S. Route 14, at or near 4894 Scherbel Road, Cross Plains, Wisconsin 53528.

NOTE: Once inside the park, follow the road to the parking lot at the south end of the park road near Shelter 2 (do not park at the first lot you'll see on your left). The overlook is visible in the distance. See photos below.

Dane County Parks: Festge Park and Salmo Pond

The Festge Park overlook . . .

Looking south from the overlook.

Looking southwest from the overlook.

Beautiful wildflowers -- the restored prairie.

Facing the marker (on the left) from the overlook.

The path to the right leads from Shelter 2 to the overlook.

Dexter enjoyed our visit to Festge Park!

Follow this path from Shelter 2 to the overlook.

Shelter 2 in the distance, on the left; parking for Shelter 2 on the right.

At the Scherbel Road entrance to Festge Park.

At the intersection of U.S. Route 14 and Sherbel Road.

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