January 06, 2017

A Peaceful Hike at Durward's Glen

durward's sign

I miss warm-weather hikes. As winter settles in, I'm dreaming about the trails that call me during the spring, summer, and fall.

One of our favorite family hiking destinations over the years has been Durward's Glen, 30 miles north of Madison in the Baraboo Hills. The 40-acre property is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to the public daily, from dawn until dusk. It's had a rich tradition of contemplative, physical, and spiritual renewal since the mid-19th Century. (Visit this link for more on the history of Durward's Glen.)

Photos in this post were from a late summer hike a couple of years ago.

stream through glen

The Glen, itself, is punctuated by a gentle stream, a peaceful woodland, and fascinating rock ridges.

cutleaf coneflower

During the growing season, wildflowers, like this Cutleaf Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), greet visitors along the paths.

stream and bridge

The main loop is a relatively easy hike for families. A simple bridge crosses the stream, and then the trail becomes a little narrower and can be a little muddy after a heavy rain.

guardian

Visitors feel a sense of history and serenity, seeing the carefully placed figures and the explanations of their significance.

sandstone and quartzite

The geology of the place is stunning. Deep gorges were formed in the sandstone and conglomerate rock over time, exposing the quartzite bluffs.

tall roots

How do trees survive like this, growing out of rock and with their roots partially exposed?

400 yo white oak

One of the tallest trees on the property is a nearly 400-year-old White Oak (Quercus alba), registered in Wisconsin as one of the state's oldest of that species.

blackberries

If you like blackberries, they're plentiful along the walking path.

holy family stairs

Well-maintained gardens line the stairs leading to the Holy Family shrine.

holy family

The shrine was sculpted in Italy from white carrara marble.

flower wall

Blooms vary by season. In early August during this visit, Rudbeckias (R. maxima or submentosa) and Michigan Lilies (Lilium michiganense) were the stars.

rudbeckia maxima submentosa

michigan lily

garden phlox

Also, sweet-smelling garden Phlox (P. paniculata).

anthony and family

One of the prettiest little gardens is a prayer circle with a statue of St. Anthony of Padua at the center.

fritillary

Butterflies, like this Great Spangled Fritillary, warm their wings nearby.

st. anthony

Durward's Glen is a peaceful place, whether you visit for a short hike, a day of reflection, or an organized retreat.

Visit this link for more about the history of Durward's Glen.
Visit this link for a quick video of the facility and the grounds.

41 comments:

  1. This looks like a fabulous place to hike or just stroll and meditate. Love seeing warm photos now. They make me warm inside.

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    1. It's a special place. I've never been there in the winter, but remembering the warmth and lush plant growth helps me, too. Hang in there, Lisa! ;-)

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  2. Indeed looks like a beautiful place. I miss warm weather hikes too! :P

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    1. Winter isn't so bad...for a while. But I'm not a big fan of outdoor winter activities. So, I read books, plan the garden, and dream about warm days. ;-)

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  3. I haven't been there since the 1970s, but I don't remember any of this religious stuff there back then. For me, it is less spiritual with all that statuary. But still a gorgeous natural setting.

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    1. I suppose it may have changed some since the '70s. The first time I went there was in the mid '80s. It hasn't changed much since then. I showed the statuary to show it's a Christian retreat center, but they're actually pretty spread out across the property and fit into their locations pretty naturally.

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  4. Such a balm to my already snow weary soul.... Michelle

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the virtual tour. It's a beautiful setting. Peace.

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  5. What a gorgeous spiritual place to connect with nature. I love soaking in the serenity of the peace and quiet and hearing nature happening. Looks like there is something for all at this retreat.

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    1. It really has a sense of peace about it. Most of us have found places like this--it's hard to explain in words and pictures. :)

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  6. Love visiting Durward's Glen. Have attended weddings there, also. A beautiful setting. Only about 15 miles from our house! Sometimes we forget the lovely places that are just minutes away. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. I imagine a wedding at Durward's would be beautiful! You're lucky you live so close. We enjoy Parfrey's Glen and of course Devil's Lake, too. So much to see and do in that part of the state!

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  7. What a perfect place for a hike, for contemplation and communion with God and nature. You caught me with your first photo!

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    1. Yes, it's an uncomplicated, peaceful place. The hikes aren't tough and the beauty is all around. Very calming.

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  8. What a beautiful trail and spiritual retreat. I can see why you like it, especially in late summer. We have good hiking here (Upstate SC) most of the year, even on mild winter days, but spring is especially good for wildflowers. I always feel more spiritual when I'm immersed in nature.

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    1. Yes, I'm always amazed at all the good gifts around us. We occasionally do some winter hiking, but it would be nice to have a slightly milder climate in February, especially. I envy you that. Spring wildflowers are magical--always something to look forward to!

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  9. I'm sorry I was unaware of this place when we lived in Madison. Looks like a wonderful place for a contemplative ramble.

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    1. Yes, it's up near Devil's Lake and Baraboo. Of course, there's so much to do up in that part of the state. You'll have to check it out next time you guys travel through Wisconsin. :)

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  10. walking in a natural cathedral.
    We walked on our beach today.

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    1. Nice! That's a great way to describe it. Oh, the beach would be so nice right about now!

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  11. Looks like a serene and beautiful site for a hike. Thanks for the much-needed dose of green and warm air!

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    1. Yes, it is. Very peaceful. Sometimes nature is so wonderfully arranged and we are blessed to be able to visit these special, graceful locations.

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  12. Hi,
    I just e mailed my friend Lori the link to this post. We have to plan a day together to visit this lovely spot in our state.
    Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos. After another week of negative temperatures, it was just what I needed.

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    1. Hi Carla: Oh yes, I'm sure you'd like it. I suppose it's only a couple-hour drive for you. It would make a nice day trip and hike. It's also close to Devil's Lake, which you've probably already visited? That's a busier place, but still worth the visit for the scenic beauty. Thanks for your kind words. :)

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  13. Very pretty place Beth. The gorge and tree roots over rocks reminds me of where I live. I think our areas share the same geological history.

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    1. Hi Donna: Yes, I do get the feeling our parts of the country have similar geological histories and personalities. I've noticed it when we've traveled over that way in the past. We're lucky to have great places to hike. :)

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  14. Oh, what a peaceful place for a hike. Beautiful and serene.

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    1. Yes, it's a very pleasant and calming place. Thinking about it makes me long for warmer days.

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  15. What a beautiful place! I can see why you enjoy hiking there. It certainly invites quiet contemplation.

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    1. Yes, I've only been there with my family and/or husband, but I think it would be neat to attend a retreat there.

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  16. what a special tranquil place, I enjoyed visiting it vicariously through the lovely evocative photos.

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    1. When I view these photos, it's hard to believe how different our climate is here in the different seasons. Now everything is barren and gray, but in the spring, summer, and fall it is so lush.

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  17. Calm, green, water, flowers and butterflies, this time a great place to walk. Regards.

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    1. Yes, and I miss all the things you describe during the winter. Time to read a good book. ;-)

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  18. It's lovely to revisit photographs of green places in the heart of winter, Beth. I can see why you enjoy visiting this beautiful retreat. P. x

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    1. I think so, too, Pam. I know winter is part of the cycle, but I have so much less patience for its barren facade. I'm not sure if looking at the photos is helpful or simply makes me more impatient for winter to be over. ;-)

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  19. Hi Beth, I can see why you like to hike through Durward's Glen so much. It is a beautiful place where one can find some peace and quite.
    My husband and I haven't gone for a hike for quite a while and your post has inspired me to maybe try to go for one in the near future. Winter is a good time to do that here in San Diego, as it is nice and cool. I am sure our two dogs would enjoy that as well.
    Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Oh yes, I believe hiking in San Diego in winter would be wonderful! I know it was perfect in March last year when we were there! Sweet memories, for sure.

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  20. Beautiful photos! As many times as I've been to Devil's Lake, I have never been to Durward's Glen.

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  21. I think you would like it very much, Heather. Yes, if you've been to Devil's Lake, it's very close. A totally different vibe, though. Devil's Lake, while stunningly beautiful is often very crowded. While I enjoy being with people, I prefer a quieter setting when I hike. Durward's is quiet and often very few people are there at the same time. Even when they are, the signs and mood of the place are much more contemplative.

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  22. To hear the words Durward's Glen sent tingles through me.
    A chapter from my life loomed out of your images and words.
    We moved to Baraboo in the late 60's . . .
    I remember the lush terrain, the setting
    and the sense of quiet, sacred peacefulness . . .
    Thank you Beth . . .

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