Helga Gundersen Arboretum
In 1960, Dr. Alf Gundersen and his wife, Carroll, wanted to create an area that could be of lasting benefit to the public. They purchased a farm and began an ambitious project for enhancing its natural beauty. After years of work that included many special plantings, landscaping efforts, and other improvements, they transformed a part of the old farm into a park-like setting. Eventually, they named it the Helga Gundersen Arboretum, in honor of Dr. Alf’s mother.
Although there are several bubbling springs in the arboretum, there is one that stands out. The Gundersen Spring, located at the end of the High Hope Springs paved trail, is the largest spring in La Crosse County. It sends water cascading over layers of rock to form a delightful little waterfall. This waterfall tumbles into the first of four clear ponds that empty into Poplar Creek. Another spring of interest is Rock Springs, which features a small reflecting pool created by Dr. Gundersen.
Because the Helga Gundersen Arboretum includes a variety of wetland, prairie, and woodland ecosystems, it also contains a dazzling array of flora and fauna. Delicate spring ephemerals like bluebells, trout lilies, rue anemone, and marsh marigolds start emerging in April around many of the springs. The prairie area is full of blooming native flowers and their pollinators throughout the summer. Autumn brings lovely fall colors. Wildlife like whitetail deer, red fox, and raccoons are seen throughout all seasons.
The Helga Gundersen Arboretum also features a labyrinth, a striking large bronze sculpture, and a handicap-accessible trail for all guests to enjoy. There are benches that beckon people to dare to be still and enjoy their surroundings. It’s truly a very special part of Norskedalen.