Seven Trails for May

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” That often quoted sentence from John Muir takes on a special meaning for me in May, for May is the month that I am most often asked, “Where should I hike?” There is no easy answer, but May is the perfect season to enter the world of hiking for pleasure, and if the word “hiking” sounds too rigorous, just call it “meandering.” The results will be the same; for hiking is fun, healthful and there are bonuses in May: The beauty of ephemeral woodland wildflowers, the delightful songs of birds, and the choruses of frogs and trilling of toads will be your trail companions. Meander along slowly on your new adventure, stop often, look and listen and you will find more than you seek.

Today I share snippets of seven trails that are perfect for Oakland County trail meanderers, trails where the magic and music of nature’s way in May unfolds. Continue reading

Oakland County’s First Week of Spring

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Sandhill Cranes signaled me it was time to ignore the weather naysayers, for after a hard-fought weeklong contest, spring has won the annual duel with old man winter. Signs of spring are everywhere if one just takes the time to walk a trail, stroll through a woodland, embrace a swamp or just go outside and look about.

Today I share fourteen confirmations that spring is here to stay, starting with Sandhill Cranes. These red-crested beauties have returned to the wet meadows, fields and marshlands of Oakland County and often enliven the mornings with their magnificent rolling, trumpeting sound. Hikers who walk slowly and silently along wetland embracing trails may even be able to witness their magnificent courtship dances that proclaim spring is here to stay, a wonder of nature I have observed at Rose Oaks County Park, Addison Oaks County Park and Indian Springs Metropark. Continue reading

Rose Oaks – A Wonder in Winter

An interpretive sign next to a large boardwalk over wetland that is covered by snow.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Rose Oaks County Park is a nature-embracing and easily accessible winter wonder that presents wide-open vistas, glacially sculpted wooded hills and hidden secrets of nature exposed by tracks and trails in the snow. Six hundred forty acre “Rose” is one of my favorite parks managed by Oakland County Parks and Recreation. I look at her wildness as an early morning wintry haven of solitude enhanced by wind whistling through groves of evergreens, the chatter of chickadees, gurgling waters of icy streams, the near magical mesmerizing booming of lake ice expanding and contracting, and in a few more weeks, the magnificent rattling bugle calls of Sandhill Cranes. The sounds of nature in winter make every trek a delight for those that walk slowly, stop often and listen. The song of coyotes in the moments before sunrise just might be your greeting, and as the sun climbs higher, the distinctive call of the Pileated Woodpecker signals the woods are awakening. Continue reading

Wandering Lyon Oaks on a Winter’s Day

A man walks along a winding trail in the woods on a gloomy winter day.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Lyon Oaks County Park is tucked away in Lyon Township in the far southwestern corner of Oakland County. It’s best known perhaps for its Arthur Hills-designed 18-hole golf course and a very popular 13-acre fenced dog park. The busy I-96 Freeway parallels the southern property line. An industrial park saddles up to a large section of its eastern perimeter, and a major underground natural gas pipeline bisects the park almost straight down the middle in a north-south orientation. With those thoughts in mind I decided to wrap up my weekly 2018 “wilder side” trail treks with a slow-paced 5.8 mile “discovery” meander at Lyon Oaks to see what secrets of nature would be exposed on a cold and heavily overcast end of December winter’s day, my first time at Lyon Oaks in over four years. Continue reading

Nature’s Wilder Side Almanac 2019

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

JANUARY

The first days of January signal a New Year of adventures along the trails, and in the parks and wildlands of Oakland County. Snowy Owls, the denizens of the Arctic tundra irrupt into Michigan most winters confirming the season of snow has arrived – even when it’s delayed. Snowy Owls have already been sighted not far from our county. They perch motionlessly on fence posts and telephone poles near farm fields, spacious meadows and frozen lakeshores to wait for meaty entrées, perhaps mice and meadow voles, or a duck that did not wing south. January is the month that early rising hikers and trail runners find their favorite trails of solitude and solace, crisscrossed with tracks of our apex predator, the eastern coyote. It’s the season I look forward to sharing sunrises on a wooded, often snowy bluff that overlooks Buhl Lake, a four season gem of Addison Oaks County Park.

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