Lac Lawrann Conservancy

Last stop of the day was at the Lac Lawrann Conservancy, a 145-acre nature preserve in West Bend, Wisconsin. I had no idea what to expect but came to find this is quite a hidden gem for a county park. According to the signs it was purchased by Lawrence and Ann Maurin in 1955 as a 20 acre parcel that was previously a garbage dump and then restored & expanded. Conservation in action and a lasting legacy, quite brilliant.

Not far off the parking area is a large barn, visitor center, and a huge solar array (not pictured here but it’s over to the right side). They have tons of different programs on nature & science and it seems to be a popular spot for field trips. Find more about what is offered at the Friends of Lac Lawrann Conservancy site – I don’t have enough space on this blog to list it all!

Today I was visiting in search of a small waterfall(?) feature that is supposedly not far from the visitor center. Starting immediately behind the visitor center I took the trail heading northeast which turns out to be the Railroad Spur Trail. The short spur initially drops down a set of stairs and isn’t very long.

Down the stairs and just a few steps further you come to a 90-degree tee in the trail. Just about at that point you would see a algae-covered pond to your right and the small trickle of water flows under your feet through a culvert.

Here’s a closer look at the small trickle of water. I believe this is supposed to be what some people call Turtle Pond Falls or Lac Lawrann Falls. Again, as my last several posts have shown water levels everywhere are low now at the end of July so this isn’t very exciting. Better photos are over at my friend Bob’s site Wisconsin Waterfalls where it actually looks like a mini waterfall.

Since I’ve struck out on the falls it’s time to just enjoy the hike and other scenery. Here’s a wider view of that same algae covered pond, aptly named Turtle Pond. Quite serene in this particular area of the park. Birds are numerous and popping in and out of the trees and tall grasses on the far side.

I was lucky enough to join a mated pair of sandhill cranes along the trail. They didn’t seem to mind my presence too much from afar. I saw them several times through my short hike along with other unique avian species including woodpeckers and a sandpiper that I spend an obscene amount of time trying to photograph (they didn’t like the camera as much).

Trail signs here are found often enough and vary in age & condition. Best to know where you are going, or at least have comfortable shoes to keep walking further if you get lost. In total there are 4 miles of trails within the Conservancy along with ski & snowshoe trails in the winter months.

Trails are mostly footworn hard-pack dirt or crushed gravel and easy to find. The landscape in this area varies greatly from one spot to the next with dense trees, swamps and ponds, and some small rolling hills. The area is part of the Kettle Morraine geography that was shaped by glacial movements long ago, and also lies within a “tension zone” where northern and southern Wisconsin ecologies collide giving it a larger diversity than some other places.

Coming back around the Lake Loop Trail you get some great views of the park’s namesake Lac Lawrann. Again water levels are very, very low and today it is almost entirely covered in lilly pads and tall reed grasses. LOTS of birds in this area, I lost count of how many different species I saw but the “Friends” site claims over 200 species have been observed here and I would believe it. Quite a nice surprise!

OK time to head home as my weekend comes to a close. On to planning the next adventures, as always stay tuned for more!

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