Foraging for edible fruits, nuts and mushrooms is allowed in the Dane County Park System as long as it is for personal use and not for resale. Dane County does not apply pesticides to fruit trees or bushes so foraging can be a safe and fun way to connect to the outdoors. Foraging is not allowed on planted vegetable garden plots within parks. Park users are allowed to leave the trails to forage but should follow the guidelines below to ensure they do their best to minimize damage:
- Know what you are picking: make sure you’re 100% confident you know what it is you’re about to collect and consume. Some berries, plants and especially mushrooms can be hard to distinguish, and could be poisonous.
- Don't cut or harm the plant: park users are allowed to pick the fruits, nuts and berries but must leave the plant intact.
- Don't collect from small populations: only pick foods that are in abundance. If you take from small patches it may be detrimental to wildlife who survive on that food source. If you take too many, you could be preventing more plants from growing.
- Don't forage along roads: you could be putting yourself in danger by harvesting along busy roads.
Harvest time: September/October
- Indian Lake County Park - trees scattered throughout the park, south of the main parking lot.
- Prairie Moraine Dog Park - trees scattered throughout the dog park.
- Sugar River Wildlife Area (Basco Unit) - orchard remnant near parking lot on STH 69.
- CamRock County Park - trees scattered along multi-use trail next to Koshkonong Creek.
- Donald County Park - abandoned orchard near Foye Cabin site in the center of the park on the south side of the creek. Some pear trees present as well.
- Token Creek County Park - near Shelter #3 and disc golf course.
- Badger Prairie County Park - near the woods by the park shelter.
Harvest time: August
- Scheidegger Forest - check woodland transition areas north of the parking lot.
- Donald County Park - scattered throughout wooded areas. Check wooded/field transition areas.
Black Raspberries (Black Caps)
Harvest time: Late June/Early July
- All Parks - Excellent picking at most of the major parks. Great opportunities at CamRock, Schumacher, Donald, Badger Prairie and Indian Lake. Look for berries in slightly shaded areas at woodland/field transitions.
Harvest time: September/October
- All Parks - hickory nuts can be found at most county park lands that have forest areas.
- Festge County Park - provides very easy access to many trees off the main parking area.
Harvest time: April/May
- All Parks - check around dead elm and apple trees after periods of warm rain and temperatures in the 70's. Best opportunities in the western half of the County, early in the morning.
Harvest time: July
- Anderson Farm County park - check mown grass trails that border agricultural fields. Note: Public access in agricultural fields not allowed until crops have been harvested.
- CamRock County Park - check open areas adjacent to the creek and drainage ways.
You can also check the Falling Fruit interactive map which shows the locations of foragable products all over the world. If you find products in our park system, please add them to this map. If you find other foragable items in the Dane County Park system that aren't in our list above, please email us and let us know so we can add them to our list.