Did you know that there are cacti in Wisconsin? I didn't until a few days ago when my buddy Dogger said he wanted to go see them. So we did. We wandered into the "Wisconsin desert", a.k.a. – the Spring Green Preserve State Natural Area
and sure as shit there were prickly pear cacti everywhere.
The SGPSNA is a neat little spot. It is apparently the last sand prairie in the state. The trailhead is at a low-lying area and there's a little shelter with a map and guide to some of the critters who call the area home. Among them are pocket gophers and six-lined race runners. (I don't usually think of Wisconsin sheltering many lizards.) There are also spiders – wolf and Black Widow. Snakes too. What do these creatures do when it's 20 below outside with two feet of snow? Vacation down south?
We didn't see any blatantly exotic fauna but we did run across a baby toad and some kind of insect neither of us recognized.
Much of the flora was also foreign to us. For instance, there was this shrub bearing lots of pods. I looked around to see if Donald Sutherland was nearby and ready to emit an unearthly shriek.
The trail is 3.2 miles total but does not loop. You begin in the prairie…
…and it slowly gets more wooded.
Finally you end up at the entrance to what looks like Fangorn Forest.
Due to a whiny child we didn't end up going very deep into it. However, it looked like the trail heads up the bluff. We plan on returning when it's a bit cooler and drier to penetrate the forest and then again next June when the cacti are in bloom.