November: A Great Month for Hiking

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTYimg_1212

November trails are mosquito free. The air is rich and crisp. Crowds are gone. In November, leafless woodlands are home to peaceful solitude and delicate beauty. Go for a hike on the trails of our county and you just may embrace the timeless words of Henry David Thoreau, “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”

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With leaves down, hidden landforms reappear–making it easier to imagine the enormous sheets of ice that crushed the earth, carving depressions and creating hills. The glaciers of 12,000 years ago led to the formation of the 1, 400 lakes that enrich Oakland County today. Many of those lakes, called kettle lakes, are small, yet relatively deep. They were created by gigantic blocks of ice that broke free from retreating glaciers, sinking into and compressing the soft, raw earth. Kettle lakes, which provide perfect scenery for hiking, are found all across Oakland County.img_1226

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No matter where one hikes in Oakland County, often-overlooked glacial erratics are encountered. Glacial erratics are hunks of bedrock that were pushed, rolled and carried south by a glacier. A hike in leafless November makes it easy to spot these multi-ton landmark rocks that are partially buried in glacial moraines (hills created by glacial action). Seven Lakes State Park, Bald Mountain State Recreation Area and the trails on the west side of Crooked Lake at Independence Oaks County Park are all excellent portals for glacial erratic viewing. Many of these boulders are capped with mosses and serve as nut-chewing platforms for chipmunks during the blustery days of November.img_1389

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Although reptiles and amphibians are in hibernation and most insect-eating birds have long since departed for warmer climates, November hikers in search of wildlife are well rewarded. Red-tailed hawks perch on tree limbs, wild turkeys trot under lofty oaks, boisterous chickadees enliven the woodlands with song and powdery snow reveals coyote tracks. Explore the trails at Highland Oaks, Independence Oaks and Rose Oaks county parks and you may find previously hidden beaver lodges at the edges of kettle lakes.img_7094

What could be simply more refreshing than going for a close-to-home nature hike in Oakland County? Oakland County Parks and Recreation manages 68 of the hundreds of miles of trails found here. It’s time to grab a warm jacket, lace up the hiking boots and “live the season” on the wilder side of Oakland County.

Text and photos by Jonathan Schechter, Nature Education Writer for Oakland County Parks. schechterj@oakgov.com

Visit DestinationOakland for detailed trail information including maps, park hours, nature education programs and volunteer and winter recreation opportunities.

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