Hidden Gems of the Yahara Watershed

Paunack (AO) Park

Our watershed is full of well-known, well-visited locations. But there are some you may have missed. Check out these gems, hidden in plain sight.

Frautschi Point

Walking along the UW-Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve on Lake Mendota, it may be strange to come across an old stand-alone fireplace. Although its origins remain unclear, it is speculated that the fireplace was built for a family cottage in the 1920s. Take a walk on Frautschi Point and see the mysterious fireplace for yourself!

Frautschi Point
Frautschi Point on Lake Mendota – this hidden gem of the watershed is located within the UW-Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve

Bernie’s Beach

Bernie’s Beach on Monona Bay may be a small neighborhood beach, but it is one of a kind. With a recent installation of a 24-foot-long mat, Bernie’s Beach is Madison’s first wheelchair-accessible beach! Not only is it more accessible, but it provides the space to spread out, relax, and take in the stunning views of downtown Madison.

Bernies Beach
Bernie’s Beach on Monona Bay

Paunack (A.O.) Park

Located along the Lake Monona bike loop, Paunack (A.O.) Park is the perfect place to take a break from biking, sit on a bench, and enjoy the peaceful view of the lake. With a playground and basketball court, it is also a great spot for kids to have some fun too!

Paunack (AO) Park
Paunack (A.O.) Park is a hidden gem, tucked away on Lake Monona

Muir Knoll (Gard Storytellers Circle)

Traditionally a gathering spot on campus to share stories, Muir Knoll offers tree-shaded stone seating overlooking Lake Mendota on the northern edge of Bascom Hill. With its peaceful atmosphere, Muir Knoll is the perfect place to step away from the busyness of campus and perhaps enjoy a story or two.

Muir Knoll
Muir Knoll (Gard Storytellers Circle) on Lake Mendota

Merrill Springs Park

Merrill Springs Park on Lake Mendota was first called Makamai by the Ho-Chunk, which means “medicine springs.” European settlers later referred to it as Merrill Springs after Alfred Merrill, a farmer who settled near Spring Harbor in the mid 1800s. Today, the historic lakefront park features a restored spring cistern and three stone benches constructed in 1934.

Merrill Springs Park
Merrill Springs Park on Lake Mendota

Yahara Place Park

Nestled along the shores of Lake Monona and the Yahara River, Yahara Place Park is a quiet escape from the city. Take a stroll along the shoreline or spread out on a picnic blanket and watch the boats go by. Additionally, this park has its very own horseshoe game for the whole family to play!

Yahara Place Park
Yahara Place Park on Lake Monona and the Yahara River

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