Tag Archives: Hike

Parfreys Glen. A winter hike on a frozen stream.

The seasons have changed.  A cold beauty of white and leafless trees await you as you hike into Parfreys Glen.  After an ice storm January’s freeze gave way to a thaw.  I thought it was a good time for a winter hike out to the glen.  It is a stark contrast to the last post.  Instead of vibrant greens there is the bare beauty of the glen.  Frosted rocks.  A stream frozen in time.  Dark trees clawing the winter sky.

If you would like to visit do bring your Yaktrax as you will be walking and climbing on ice.








Chapel in the Woods, Durward’s Glen

Video by danedem

A spiritual hike along tree fern lined paths.  Creeping myrtle with periwinkle blossoms greet you as you walk to the chapel.

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The Durwards fell in love with the glen, and they bought the land from a blacksmith who lived there.  The Durwards called their home “Auld Geordies”, but later referred to it simply as “the glen”.  While living in the glen, they made a living  truck farming, selling their fruits and vegetables in local markets.

The Durwards constructed a house on top of a knoll on the property.   In 1866, the family built a small chapel so that Mrs. Durward did not have to walk so far to church. One of her sons was ordained there.  Later they added a studio to the buildings.   After the chapel, known as “St. Mary’s of the Pines”, burned in 1923, it was restored by the Madison council of the Knights of Columbus in the late 1920s.  The Durward family sold the land to the Roman Catholic Order of St. Camillus in 1932. The order established a seminary on the land, where it trained priests beginning in the 1930s.  The order’s primary building was a 75-foot stone and log novitiate, built entirely by hand.  The buildings were expanded in the 1960s to accommodate a conference and retreat center.  The glen was sold to The College of Saint Mary Magdalen in 2007, which owned the land for four years before selling it to Durward’s Glen Our Lady of the Rosary Group. The group now uses the property as a retreat center, and for weddings and other group events. (excerpt from Wikipedia)

The property is located off of Hwy 33.  You take Hwy X east until you reach Durwards Glen Road.  Take a right and travel for about 6 miles until you reach Leisch Rd.  Take a right and the parking lot is on the right at the bottom of the hill. 

There is a path the meanders through a wooded area.  Along the way there are markers containing small carvings of the signs of the cross.  As you make your way up the hill among the maples and oaks you will find a creeping myrtle patch.  In the summer the blossoms peek out from behind the dark green leaves.  In the clearing at the top of the hill is the chapel and cemetery.  Large tombstones with simple carving are lined among large elaborately carved religious statues. 

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A small chapel sits on the crest of the hill.  Behind the chapel is a path down to the glen.  It can be slippery so watch your step.  The Durward cemetery is behind the chapel along the path.  The old markers are interesting and allow one to peak into the history of the family.  At the edge of the glen you will find stairs the take you down to the stream level. 

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A rock lines stream cut through the rock thousands of years ago to create the glen.  White pines tower over your head.  It is breath taking in the spring with all the green poking through. 

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A pond and bridge great you with a drinking fountain.  Just past the pond is a garden of historic buildings and quiet garden nooks to find spiritual solace.  

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OIlbrich Gardens a Spectacular Retreat in Madison’s Atwood Neighborhood

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A palatial rose garden, a Thai pavilion, an English garden, a pebble garden retreat……there are sights and smells around every corner.  You can wander all afternoon and never be bored.  Each area is another world onto itself.  Olbrich Gardens is not a hike but a walk of discovery through a world of well maintained gardens.  You will be amazed at the variety and beauty of the botanical garden.

Olbrich Gardens is easy to get to.  From Middleton take Hwy 12 & 18 East. Exit onto Monona Drive. Take Monona Drive around Lake Monona to Olbrich Botanical Gardens; approximately 4 miles. (Monona Drive becomes Atwood Avenue as it curves around Lake Monona.) Olbrich Garens is on your right as Atwood Avenue opens to the East end of Lake Monona.

There are 16 acres of  gardens and an indoor, tropical conservatory at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.  Among the places to visit in the outdoor gardens is the Thai Pavilion and Garden.  Olbrich’s Thai Pavilion allows you to step outside of Madison and into a foreign land. Outside of Thailand, this is the only Thai pavilion surrounded by a garden in the US. There is a reflection pond filled with large smooth pebbles.


A gold Thai pavilion that towers over the gardens.  As you walk to the garden you pass over a bridge that ushers you to a garden of foreign plants and spectacular flowers.



There are a wide variety of roses in the Rose Garden, which opened in 2005.  Olbrich’s rose garden a playful mixture of Midwest shrub roses and perennials. When in bloom you can smell the perfume in the air.  The colors are spectacular and each rose is a wonder on itself.


You can also find other specialty gardens within Olbrich Garden.  There is the Perennial Garden, Sunken Garden, and Herb Garden to name but a few. Olbrich’s outdoor gardens are open daily, year-round.

With in the gardens is the Bolz Conservatory, a 50-foot-high glass pyramid that contains a diverse collection of tropical plants,  free-flying birds, and blooming orchids. You can see plants such as banana, coffee, and vanilla. There are ordheids , Carnivorous plants, lush tropical rubber trees.  And if you are in the gardens July and August there is a butterfly exhibit.

In June the Peonies are in bloom.  As you walk through the arbor and into the garden there the peonies blossoming with colossal flowers of every color and size.  The perfume envelops your nose as you get close to the bushes.  Brilliant pinks and red petals surround golden centers laid with pollen.

It is fascinating how they can prune the peonies so that the blossoms are spaced around the bush.  These plants have been meticulously maintained. Also in June there are many bulb plants that are throughout the gardens.

As summer progresses you can find the roses blooming in the rose garden.  Many plants are at their peak and the looks and smells are spectacular.

During the fall the colors change and the leaves on many trees are amber, yellow, orange and red.  The best time to visit the garden is your favorite season.  You can call ahead to find out what is blooming ar special events.  The Olbrich’s outdoor gardens are open daily, year-round as well as the Bolz Conservatory.  I visit the gardens several times a year.  It is a wonderful place of discovery in natures beauty.