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Petrifying Springs Park

Petrifying Springs Park, playground
Petrifying Springs Park, biking
Petrifying Springs Park, outdoors, nature, fall colors
Petrifying Springs Park, winter, cross country skiing

Located at Hwy. 31 and Hwy. A, this is a park in the Kenosha County park system. 350 acres. Scenic hiking and biking. Streams and rivers, picnic areas, playgrounds, volleyball courts, softball diamonds, a public golf course, shelter rentals, sledding hill (with lights for night-time sledding), and the Carlisle Family Dog Park (open year-round).

There are two permanent outdoor chess tables here: one by Parking Area 1 by the Well and another by the river in at Parking Area 4. These are permanently installed cement tables with a chess/checkerboard inlaid into them. Bring your own chess pieces or checkers to play.

The park has been home to an artesian well since the 1930s. An artesian aquifer consists of groundwater that overcomes gravity and flows upwards through a well without the need for pumping. The artesian well at Petrifying Springs Park is pure, natural spring water. Local residents and visitors alike bring empty jugs to fill up at the well spigot. The well is located at the north end of Parking Lot 1; there is no cost. Geocache information for the well is here.

Cross country skiing and snowshoeing on all trails; lighted sledding hill at Area 2; lighted cross country skiing track on golf course. The UW-Parkside Community Cross Country Ski Club grooms the cross country ski trail using Kenosha County’s equipment. The night ski trail length is approximately 3,000 feet (0.57 miles).

The Petrifying Springs Biergarten is open to the public daily from Memorial Day through about October, from Noon to approximately 9 p.m. It's located at Pavilion Shelter #1, at the southern entrance (at County Highway JR) to the park. It's operated by a vendor, Petrifying Springs Biergarten LLC, which has made more than $130,000 in improvements to convert the picnic shelter into a traditional German-style Biergarten. The vendor has a five-year lease agreement with the county to construct a German-style Biergarten, and sell (cash-only) German-style food, premium beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages, and provide a variety of activities at and around Shelter #1. The Biergarten creates a revenue source that will go toward park improvements. Mirroring successful Biergarten concepts in other communities, the Petrifying Springs Biergarten offers indoor and outdoor seating, a menu of food and beverage options and weekly activities, including kickball leagues, Movie on the Mound, Poses & Pints yoga classes, and Pups and Pints dog owner networking. 

Summer 2017 activities in the park include (see additional under events):

Yoga in the Park presented by CrossFit Kenosha

  • Dates: Mondays, June 12 through August 14, 2017
  • Time: 5:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Petrifying Springs Park, Pavilion Area #3
  • Ages: All ages welcome (those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian)
  • Registration: Not mandatory, but recommended. Program information and registration information may be found at the listed website.
  • Details: Free yoga sessions will be available to all visitors, offering a unique environment to release stress and learn a new way to stay healthy. Classes will be for be geared for all levels from beginners to intermediate. Participants are encouraged to bring their own yoga mat, since a limited supply will be available to use.

Tots in the Park presented by Hawthorn Hallow (July 25, Pringle Nature Center will present)

  • Dates: Tuesdays, June 13 through August 15, 2017
  • Time: 10-11 a.m.
  • Where: Petrifying Springs Park, Pavilion Area #3
  • Ages: 3-5 (Parents/guardians must accompany children)
  • Registration: Mandatory. Program information and registration information may be found at the listed website.
  • Details: Tots in the Park is a free parent-child participation program offered to preschoolers ages 3-5 and their parents or guardians. Each week, the program offers a different theme including story time, fitness (games), crafts, and hands-on learning activities for parents and children to enjoy outdoors. Tots in the Park was created to increase young children’s environmental appreciation and improve learning and motor skills.

CrossFit in the Park presented by CrossFit Kenosha

  • Dates: Wednesdays, June 14 through August 16, 2017
  • Time: 5:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Where: Petrifying Springs Park, Pavilion Area #3
  • Registration: Not mandatory, but recommended. Program information and registration information may be found at the listed website.
  • Ages: All ages welcome (those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian)
  • Details: Free CrossFit classes will be available for people looking to participate in an exciting way to be active. Although this is a high-intensity exercise that is a strength-and-conditioning program, all are welcome to participate.

Wildlife Explorers presented by Hawthorn Hallow

  • Dates: Thursdays, June 15 through August 17, 2017
  • Time: 10-11:00 a.m.
  • Where: Petrifying Springs Park, Pavilion Area #3
  • Ages: 5-8 (independent learning; parents/guardians not required for program)
  • Registration: Mandatory. Program information and registration information may be found at the listed website.
  • Details: Wildlife Explorers is a free, fun, low-barrier program designed to connect youth to nature by encouraging exploration and increasing kids’ comfort with spending time in nature. This nature discovery program focuses on environmental appreciation, rather than environmental literacy.

Fun facts: Petrifying Springs Park has owl boxes, wood duck boxes and extensive blue bird trails. Staff feeds the birds and has a squirrel playground where they feed the squirrels for park visitors to enjoy.

History:  Nature has endowed Kenosha County with one of the most picturesque parks in southeastern Wisconsin. The 350 acre park’s name was derived from a Calcareous formation that appears on the South Ravine. Close observation of the stoney clusters, caused by rain water and chemical action, resembles petrified flora material.

A series of park interpretations correlated with early history, geology, and environmental features, will introduce the visitor to the interesting adventures of this colorful woodland retreat.

In the spring of 1835, pioneer families followed the winding Jambeau Trail from Chicago north into the new Wisconsin Territory. Covered wagon and ox team travel was slow and roads were poor. At times, it was impossible to cover more than 15 to 20 miles per day.

Upon arriving in the now Somers Township and park area, the majestic landscape with prairies, woods, and placid waters of the river revealed many favorable sites for settlement. Some men selected suitable land and staked out their “claim”. Later the land was purchased for $1.25 per acre from the government at the County Land Office in Milwaukee.

An explanation of the spring’s hydrology is given by G.F. Hansen, State geologist, UW-Madison. “The ‘spring’ that furnished drinking water in the park is a drilled artesian well in the Niagara Dolomite, but, the spring on the hillside is not an artesian flow but a contact spring. It is caused by rainwater percolating downward to a relatively impervious later and them emerging as a spring from the hillside”.

The petrified sticks, acorns, etc., that occur at such springs are not petrified in the sense that the organic matter is replaced with mineral matter. It is simply covered with lime. After time, the organic matter may decay and be entirely removed. The deposits or stoney material is described as calcareous turf can be used to describe the deposits. Wallace Mygatt, an early pioneer grain buyer, mentions in his 1850 history of Kenosha County that in Somers Township there are certain springs that have the properties of turning vegetation into stone.

History provided by Phil Sander and the Racine Journal (July 13, 1870), and shared by the Kenosha County Parks Division.

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