Self-Guided Walking Tour
Elmer & Edna Culver Wetlands Conservancy
(Please click here to download an adobe pdf file of this self guided tour for printing)
Welcome to the Town of Windsor’s Elmer & Edna Culver Wetlands Conservancy, off Egre Road between Portage Road and Cty Tk C. This guide is keyed to numbered posts along the trail (map on back page), making a 3/8-mile loop with an optional spur. Suggestions for “hardy walkers” refer to rougher and less-maintained trails.
Start at #1, beyond the kiosk—the post with the arrow, “to the springs.”
1. Conservancy. Elmer Culver bought this property in the 1930s. He
never lived here but maintained and developed it and rented out the
house. The Herrick family lived here more than 40 years. The Town
of Windsor bought the property from the Culvers in 1999 to complement
its Token Creek Preserve, off Portage Road. Please respect the privacy
of the house, which is occupied.
2. Springs. Groundwater bubbles to the surface in springs like this
one. Its constant temperature keeps this pond—and Token Creek—cool
in summer and unfrozen in winter, attracting birds and other wildlife.
Because of its abundant springs, Token Creek feeds more water into
Lake Mendota (via the Yahara River, through Cherokee Marsh) than any
3. Millpond basin. In 1861 Token Creek was dammed to power a gristmill.
Sediment accumulating in the pond behind the dam shaped this broad,
flat expanse. The mill closed in 1945 and the dam broke in 1994. Instead
of a pond, the creek now meanders through a rich wetland. The Wisconsin
DNR and the US Army Corps of Engineers plan to restore it to a high-quality
habitat for brook trout, which thrive in cool spring-fed water.
4. Small pond. Formerly a pig barn and then a cabin stood ahead on
your left, where there is now a small pond. Listen to the roar of
the water pouring through culverts in the berm, fed entirely by springs
like the one you visited at #1. This clean, clear, constant spring
water gives Token Creek its outstanding quality compared to streams
fed primarily from surface stormwater.
6. Sandy knoll view. The large grove of trees a few hundred yards
in front of you is on a sandy knoll. Formerly an island in the millpond,
the knoll is now accessible to hardy walkers (see #15). The main branch
of Token Creek, arriving from the east across the Wagner and Merry
farms and Cty Tk C, flows along its far (south) edge. The knoll shows
traces of an old gravel pit.
7. Former bridge. A bridge once spanned this pond, from about here
to the former cottage on the far side of the pond (see #19). Look
for turtles sunning themselves on fallen branches in the pond, or
a ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on the orange blossoms of the
jewelweed (also called touch-me-not) along the shore.
8. Overflow pond. Otter, muskrat and mink have been seen in the pond
on your left. It holds overflow from the larger trout pond you just
passed (#5-7) and may freeze in the winter, unlike the spring-fed
ponds. To your right is another view of the wetland basin.
9. Trail options. For the loop trail, turn left; skip 10-15 and resume with #16. For a longer walk, proceed to your right.
10. Tierney tributary. A tributary starts north of Windsor Road,
crosses the Tierney farm on Egre Road, then passes through this culvert
to join Token Creek. The floods of 1993 brought the water level 6
inches above the trail, making it impassible. Notice the bur oak on
the left, a dominant native tree.
12. Agriculture. Notice the privately owned farm field up the hill,
ahead to your left. In the late 1990s, farmland covered about 3/4
of the 27-sq-mi Token Creek watershed. Area farmers protect water
quality by using such techniques as minimum tillage or no-till, to
reduce erosion, and soil testing to avoid overuse of fertilizer.
13. Walnuts. Mr. Culver planted walnut trees, which multiplied. Behind
the trees to your right is a small pond. Look and listen for goldfinches,
purple finches, nuthatches, wrens and chickadees among the branches.
15. Pine plantation. Mr. Culver planted these red pines about the
early 1950s. Notice how they stand in rows, unlike natural forests.
Watch and listen for birds.
16. Stone wall. Barely visible through the woods ahead of you, to
the right of the trail, is a stone wall. It is all that remains of
an old barn, which collapsed and was burned for safety reasons in
17. Spruce trees. The two huge evergreens ahead on the left are spruce.
Spruce trees can stay small for many years, then grow very fast if
they start to get more sunlight.
19. Cottage. A pair of schoolteachers once lived in a cottage on
the lower side of this grass circle. Later the cottage was used for
family gatherings. Beneath the undergrowth are the remains of old
stone steps, still visible in winter, which led from the cottage down
to the water. Notice the outdoor stove, on your left as you face the
20. Return to kiosk and parking lot. Please take the left fork, down the hill away from the private house. At the foot of the hill, bear right around the small pond and (still bearing right) back up the hill to the kiosk and parking lot where you began.
Thank you for returning your trail guide.