Waukesha County Lifestyle and Business News

On Foot: Dousman

September 5, 2023
Photos by Patricia Puccinelli unless otherwise specified

Today we’re in Dousman – a village of 2,300 people centered around Highway 67 about eight miles south of I-94. For this excursion, my friend Mary and I met mid-morning at the Glacial Drumlin State Trail trailhead parking area and headed west. The trail stretches 52 miles on the abandoned Chicago and North Western rail corridor from Cottage Grove in Dane County to Waukesha. A state trail pass is required for people over age 16 who are biking or inline skating and can be purchased at most state park properties or by calling a local state park property. A pass is not required for walking or hiking.

Charming gazebo on the trail.

The area surrounding the trailhead includes a charming white gazebo with a large picnic table and a bring-one-take-one Little Free Library stocked with children’s books and novels.

At one time, Dousman was called “Bullfrog Station” because of, you guessed it, the significant number of bullfrogs everywhere. We didn’t make it out of the trailhead parking lot before spotting the first bullfrog.

The trail is paved from downtown Dousman to Utica Road and then turns to crushed limestone which made our walk easy and comfortable. Dog waste containers are stationed along the way for pet-friendly convenience. Our trip was on a week day, so the trail was quiet with only a handful of walkers, joggers and bikers, each with a cheery smile and quick wave or bright “hello” for us. Cardinals, yellow finches, blue jays and rose-breasted grosbeaks chattered while bullfrogs called out to us every step of the way. Bike tracks and footprints proved the trail is well-used.

We paused at the bridges over Scuppernong Creek and the Bark River where deer tracks were plenty along the muddy shorelines, so we weren’t surprised when we felt a large doe staring at us from a nearby marsh.

At the midway point of our walk along the trail, we found the Badger Kart Club and, while no races were going on, we explored the grounds and learned members race “purpose-built racing machines powered by 2-cycle or 4-cycle engines capable of speeds over 60 miles per hour.”  Admission is free and the entire family is welcome.

Downtown Dousman

Wanting to explore downtown Dousman and have a bite to eat, we simply turned around retracing our steps. While the same birds and frogs kept us company on our way back, we discovered deer leg remains and scat along the trail – evidence that coyotes also enjoy the open grass and marshlands. So far, we walked 2.2 miles.

The highlight of our exploration was lunch at Brick House Mercantile. The restaurant sits in an 1848 brick house filled with “never mainstream fresh, baked and preserved items.” Immediately upon entering the shop, we were warmly greeted and welcomed by owner Joseph Bahr, and his son, baker Jeremy Bahr. A woman from Nashotah enjoying lunch quickly shared that she frequents Brick House Mercantile several days a week, not only for lunch, but also to bring delicious meals home to her family. She recommended the daily lunch special – the spiced Mediterranean burger. Mary and I decided to split a burger so we could also try the strawberry cobb salad.

The burger’s combination of flavors was perfect. Joe spent time with us to explain they used their own beef and pork blend with Mediterranean spices topped with smoked goat cheese, bacon, pickled cauliflower giardiniera, kalamata olive aioli and fresh greens on a toasted sesame seed roll. The cobb salad was equally flavorful including fresh strawberries, pickled apples, candied pecans, farmhouse cheese and a bright pink beet-pickled hard-boiled egg. Joe recommended pairing our meal with a sour cherry shrubmosa drink – a blend of sour and sweet red cherries, organic cane sugar and vinegars mixed with Prosecco. Delicious!

After lunch, we stopped in the Bicycle Doctor Nordic Ski Shop conveniently just north of the Glacial Drumlin Trail. We were greeted immediately by Mo, a sweet three-year-old black Labrador mix, who loved to sniff, but enjoyed back rubs more. The staff was happy to share information about their favorite bike routes and shop-hosted group rides. The selection of bikes and cycling clothing was impressive. Seasonally, they stock a large variety of classic and skate skis and work with each skier to understand their unique needs. Their service department, which is integrated with and visible from the shop itself, provides quick fixes to full tune-ups. The shop has a small bar with micro brews, energy drinks and snacks.

We wandered next door to The Petite Chef School of Cookery which is “dedicated to helping teach children and adults the joy of cooking by providing cooking parties and team-building events.” No events were taking place, so we simply peeked inside and made a note to return because who could resist “Wisconsin’s Funnest Place For Cooking Classes?”

Continuing to walk north, we visited Chamberlains by Juls Floral & Gifts which has served Waukesha County since 1915. In addition to flowers, the shop has a selection of eclectic gift items and a variety of ice cream cones and dishes. While tempted, we declined the offer to indulge in a tasty treat.

Crossing the street, we popped into Bergson Interiors Limited. The shop is long-standing in the community and specializes in residential design. Sofas, lamps, area rugs and decorative items are beautifully displayed throughout the shop with an open design space in the rear. Neither of us made a purchase, but we agreed we need to stop again. Often!

I wanted to pick up a specific white wine for dinner, so we made our way north again to The Corner Stop which was remodeled last year, including expanded wine and liquor options. The shop keeper was quick to ask if I needed help and when we couldn’t find the specific wine I was seeking, she looked in the refrigerated section with no luck and then offered to order the wine for me. Instead, I made a different selection and, when checking out, she asked if I wanted either rolls or bread that would be past their sell-by date soon to feed the geese in the area. We all chuckled about our “love” of the omnipresent flocks. Friendly and customer-focused!

Our last stop was at the Farmers’ Market in the Dousman Village Hall parking lot. The market runs Wednesdays 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. from early May to mid-October. There were about a dozen small tables or booths offering fresh vegetables, rhubarb at the time, pickled vegetables, colorful annual flowers, local honey, quiche and handmake knitted goods. The vendors were regulars at the market, helpful and friendly.

Bullfrogs and Derby Days

Our walk ended at just over 2.5 miles in total. The village of Dousman was charming, the people friendly, shopkeepers customer-focused and the trail was bursting with bullfrogs. We learned Dousman hosted its 68th annual Derby Days July 27th through 30th including its renowned frog jumping contest. Marking my calendar for next year!

On Foot is a regular column exploring the scenery, sites, food and drink in cities, villages and towns throughout Waukesha County. If you have ideas to share about where Focus Waukesha should explore next On Foot, please contact [email protected].