These events are fundraisers for the Friends of Ledge View Nature Center-- they support programming and exhibits at the park:
Maple Syrup Sunday, Sun., March 24, 2013, 9 am-4 pm, Tour the sugarbush and learn about the American history of the maple syruping process. The tours are participative-- that means YOU help tap the tree and collect sap, if you want to. Tours free, optional breakfast till 1 pm, $7 per person for adults; $3 for ages 6-12; free for 5 and younger. Rain or shine (the sap flows better on low-pressure days!) Poster
Footloose For Health Family Event, Sat., May 11, 2013. Get some exercise and fresh air at one of the most beautiful times of year in the park. Registration form Poster
Discovery a la Carte, Sat., May 18, 2013. Help the Friends of Ledge View Nature Center raise money for the nature center internship by coming out to enjoy the best of local restaurants' fare. Meet cooking TV celebrities Mad Dog & Merrill. Includes beverage, live entertainment by the Red Star Express, and dessert. Tickets on sale now through May 6. Poster Ticket form
Escarpment Bicycle Tour. Sun., Aug. 4 2013. Featuring six routes of from eight to 100 miles, door prizes, cue sheets, maps, marked routes, breakfast and post-ride meal, and cave tour. Discount on pre-registration. Flyer
Fall Fest, Sat., Sept. 7, 2013. After a few years as a food and energy fest, Ledge View's annual fall festival is returning to tradition with family activities and crafts. Food and beverages available. $5 a carload.
Halloween Candlelight Cave Tours, Fri. and Sat., Oct. 18 & 19, 2013. A fun rather than a scary family evening, the tours are intended to be educational and entertaining. Recommended minimum age 5 years old with parent. It is a half-mile walk to the caves. The tour involves stairs and ladders inside the caves. $5 per person. Tour departs every half hour. Poster
caves and BATS
Here's the dirt on our caves!
Ledge View has caves. They are natural holes in bedrock dolostone, a type of limestone. They were formed by groundwater and glacial meltwater. Their visiting-season temperature ranges from 42 to 60F. Their conditions depend on the weather outside-- if we get a lot of rain, the caves can be wet and muddy. (If you're very patient and have Windows Media Player, click on "cave mud" at left in the documents section for a short video. Those people had A LOT of fun.) These caves are continuously excavated by the Wisconsin Speleological Society, so things can change every year.
There is no access to the caves except on a scheduled tour. It is a half-mile walk to the caves. The caves are accessed via stairs and ladders. All cave tours are guided by a naturalist and include information about the biology, geology, and human history of the caves. Tours last about two hours. There is no electrical lighting in the caves, nor any concrete walkways. Visitors will have opportunities to crawl through passageways and explore. (Patient and curious? Click on Cave Crawl in the document section at left to get an idea what it's like.) Visitors should bring a flashlight and plan on getting dirty! (You are welcome to bring a change of clothes.) No food, drink, candy, or gum is allowed in the caves. Photos are permitted. PLEASE SEE FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, BELOW, FOR IMPORTANT INFORMATION.
For the general public, walk-in tours are offered most weekends and some weekdays, May through November. Tours visit Carolyn's Caverns, or Carolyn's and Mothers Cave. Please consult the schedule or call the nature center for more information. Only one or two tours will run on any scheduled date, and participants need to have paid at the front desk by the tour start time. Our recommended minimum age for the optional crawl/walk-in tour is five years old, accompanied by a parent. The charge is a flat per-person rate of $6. See FAQs below for Mothers Cave, which is all crawling. The Mothers Cave tour is $7 per person.
The caves are open for schools and groups from mid-April through November. Reservations are required. Schools and groups receive a discounted tour rate:
Calumet County Schools: $4.50 per person
Calumet County Groups: $5 per person
Non-County Schools: $5 per person
Non-County Groups: $5.50 per person
The minimum group size is 12. The maximum is about 35. Depending on staff availability, much larger groups can also be accommodated, but will be divided. Reservations are accepted up to one year in advance. Because the caves require a degree of safety awareness, ability to listen, and physical dexterity, we recommend grade 3 and up for this field trip, which will visit Carolyn's and/or Montgomery Cave. Mothers Cave may be visited by grades 6 and up. All minors must be supervised by a responsible adult. Please do not email for reservations. Reservations must be made by live voice (phone contact).
School Field Trips
Caving is a great way for kids to learn about Wisconsin's geology and be challenged with a hands-on adventure. Reservations are accepted for grade 3 and up. Full-day (about five hours) and half-day field trips available.
Includes Bat Room, Dave's Sink, and Wayne's World. Has six crawl passages, drip formations, and glacial meltwater features.
The adventure cave! It is ALL CRAWLING. It includes the Squeeze-- large people who want to go through this cave should visit the nature center and see if they can get their body through the box simulation. It is roughly 12 x 18 inches. Most people do fit.
Frequently Asked Questions
How old do kids have to be to go in the caves? Five years old with parental supervision is our recommended minimum age for Carolyn's Caverns. Children need to be able to get up and down ladders safely, and behave in a safe way inside the cave. They need to be able to sit quietly and listen to directions etc. Kids should be at least eight years old and supervised by parent to go in Mother's Cave.
Do I have to get dirty? You will be directed to sit down inside the caves, so your fanny will get dirty. Whether you get dirtier than that will be up to you. If you go in Mother's Cave, you WILL get dirtier.
Are there bats in the caves? Sorry, that's a "cave question." You'll find the answer when you get to the cave. However, bats do hibernate in Ledge View's caves in winter. As of 2010 Wisconsin is on the edge of one of the most destructive syndromes ever to threaten wildlife, and we need your help: Please do not bring anything from another cave into our caves (clothing, jewelry, cameras, etc.). Ordinary washing is inadequate to prevent the transfer of Geomyces spores. This alien fungus prevents insect-eating bats from hibernating in winter. If these bats can't hibernate, they die. The mortality rate for these bats in Eastern states has been huge, more than 90%. Please help us keep our caves "clean." Click for more information on White-Nose Syndrome.
The Silurian Sea
Ledge View sits on the Niagara dolostone, in an area once populated by coral reefs. The Niagara dolostone underlies all of eastern Wisconsin, from Door County down to Lannon, Sussex, Waukesha, into Illinois. It continues up into Canada and over to New York. Niagara Falls is dropping off the other side of it. Fossils in the rock give us an idea of what kinds of animals used to live here. The structure and density of the bedrock also reveal typical local water depths of that long-ago ocean.
Visitors can see some of the fossils inside Montgomery Cave and inside the nature center. Occasional general public programs are offered on local geology. Please note that fossil collection is not allowed in the park. If you would like to collect Silurian fossils, keep in mind that Niagara dolostone is probably the most common form of crushed road, driveway, and "white" landscaping gravel in eastern Wisconsin. Cream-colored or pale gray field stones and beach stones in this area are usually Niagaran in origin and can contain fossils. Limestones and dolostones from other parts of the state can yield fossils, too.
Schools and groups can reserve a geology field trip from April to November. Students will learn about rocks in general and sedimentary rocks in particular, using hands-on activities to find out how fossils are made (and found). The program begins indoors and concludes outdoors in the park quarry. Calumet County resident rate $3.50 per person; non-resident $4 per person. Please do not email for reservations. Reservations must be made by live voice (phone contact).
School Field Trips
Train your eye for fossil detection to discover Wisconsin's Silurian past. Reservations are accepted for grade 3 and up. This program is best with no snow on the ground, but don't forget to dress for the weather. Half-day (2-3 hours) or full-day (geology + caving) field trips available. Groups that come for caving and geology/full-day trips are only charged for caving.
Frequently Asked Question
Can I keep the fossils I find? No, please don't. We need them for use with other visitors. You may think that it won't matter if you are just taking one fossil, but unfortunately everybody thinks the same thing, and then there won't be any more fossils for other students to find. Please leave the fossils here.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Ledge View operates a maple syruping operation in March. Late winter/early spring starts the freeze-thaw cycle that prompts maple trees to begin pumping their sweet sap. The sap is boiled down to make maple syrup. As weather becomes warmer, the sap flow wanes and ends. In the meantime, birds begin to migrate back into the area, and chipmunks, wood frogs, and insects reappear in the woods.
The general public has three options: You can view the operation during any hike through the woods at syruping time; you can come to the open house fundraiser, Maple Syrup Sunday. This event takes place at the end of March or beginning of April. On that date, visitors can enjoy pure maple syrup on pancakes etc., learn some of the history of maple syruping, and participate in a tapping tour. YOU get to help find the maple tree, tap it, and collect sap. There is a charge for the optional breakfast, but the tours are free. This event goes on rain, snow, or shine. In fact, the sap flows better when we have had snow. Or you can watch for the backyard maple syruping workshop in early March, when a naturalist will teach you how to do it all yourself.
Schools and groups can reserve a maple syruping field trip during the sap season. They will learn about Native American and pioneers' maple syruping methods, in addition to "how trees work." Students will hike out to find a maple tree to tap. They will take turns tapping it using a hammer and a bitted brace. If sap has been flowing, students will have the opportunity to taste and collect sap. They will also see stages of the syrup-making process. The program concludes with maple syrup on vanilla ice cream. The Calumet County resident fee is $3.50 per student; non-county $4 per student. Adult chaperones no charge unless they want ice cream, and 50 cents per covers that. Please do not email for reservations. Reservations must be made by phone contact.
School field trips
This half-day program (about two hours) is a sweet way to teach students about a uniquely North American sweetener and how plants make sugar. Reservations are accepted for all age groups. Visitors should dress for the weather-- they will be walking trails (muddy?) and standing out around a tree in the woods (temperature? precipitation?).
Walking in really big feet
It may be cold and white outside, but there's a lot going on in field and forest. Only four animals hibernate in Wisconsin- the rest that stay have to carry on in spite of the temperature and scarcity of food. A walk in the snow is a good way to find the action. Enjoy flakes of snow lace, the hush of winter, the shuush of the snow on snowshoes or cross-country skis.
Ledge View offers snowshoe rental within the park through winter. These are traditional wood-framed snowshoes, so a minimum snowcover is required to protect the frames from damage-- ideally at least six inches. We have a few Alaskans, a pair of Ojibwas, a Maine/Michigan thighmaster set, a few modified Bearpaws, a bunch of Green Mountains, and a lot of Cross Country snowshoes. Snowshoers wear winter boots and dress for the weather. Whether or not a snowshoe will "fit" your boot depends on whether or not the rubber binding fits your boot. We have a few bindings that will fit humongous boots, and a few bindings that will fit very small boots--maybe that of an average five-year-old. We have a lot of bindings that will fit all the sizes in between. A naturalist will teach you how to use the snowshoes if you are a beginner.
Cross-country ski rental is available within the park through winter. Currently there are about 10 pairs of adult skis and a variety of ski boots, up to size Men's 10. It's a good idea to bring an extra pair of socks to help with boot fitting. Rental is $6 and includes set of skis, boots, and poles. Staff must be present to do the rental and give you the rental rules. Call ahead to be sure someone will be present for this, and to make sure skis/boots are available. A naturalist will teach you how to use the skis if you are a beginner. Skiers can bring their own skis and use the trails any time during daylight hours. Trails are groomed after major snowfalls. A $2 trail donation assists in grooming maintenance. The park staff offer one evening ski each winter. At all other times, the park closes at dusk.
x-c ski and snowshoe map
The general public has three options for snowshoeing at Ledge View: Option 1, you can bring your own snowshoes and take that hike on your own (please just don't walk on the ski trails). Option 2, you can come and rent a pair and go snowshoeing on your own. That's $5 per pair. Staff must be present to do the rental and give you the rental rules. Call ahead to be sure someone will be present for this, and to make sure snowshoes are available. Option 3, you can come for a scheduled snowshoe hike. That's $5 per person, includes snowshoe rental and some fun activities and discoveries. The park staff also offer one evening snowshoe hike each winter.
Schools and groups can schedule a snowshoeing field trip for winter. The Calumet County resident rate is $3.50 per person; the non-county rate is $4 per person. This includes snowshoe rental. Students will learn the history of snowshoes, the different kinds of snowshoes, how some plants and animals deal with winter, and how to walk and navigate obstacles in snowshoes. The grade levels we can accommodate depend on the size of the boot. Because we have only a few very small bindings, we recommend grade 3 and up for this field trip. Please do not email for reservations. Reservations must be made by phone contact.
School Field Trips
Snowshoeing is a cool way to discover that the world is not dead in winter. This is a half-day field trip. A full-day field trip will include a scent-tracking game: wolf/deer ecology. Reservations accepted for grade 3 and up. Dress for the weather!
Frequently Asked Questions
What if there's no snow? We do a boot hike. The activities are generally the same; we just can't do them on snowshoes. The hike rate will be discounted.
What if it's severely cold? On general public snowshoe hikes, the comfort of the participants determines the length of their hike. For schools and groups, the time outdoors will be shortened. Protected areas will be used. Full-day field trips will alternate between indoor-outdoor programming.
How to get here
Ledge View Nature Center is in Calumet County, on the east side of Lake Winnebago. The nature center is on Short Road, one mile south of Chilton, between Hwy. G and Irish Road. Watch for signs.
From Appleton, take Hwy. 114 to Hilbert, and Hwy. 57 south.
From Green Bay, take Hwy. 57 south.
From Manitowoc, take Hwy. 151 west and Irish Road or Hwy. 57 south.
From Sheboygan, take Hwy. 42 to 32 to 57 north.
From Fond du Lac, take Hwy. 151 north to Calumet Cty. Hwy. H in Brothertown. Turn right. Take Hwy. H through Jericho. Turn left on St. Charles Road. Take St. Charles Road to Cty. Hwy. G. Turn left on G, and right on Short Road.
Click here for an area map. The exact location of Ledge View on map is indicated by the arrow.