A Magical Wintery Morning

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

December 1st, Sunday morning at 7:30 – Misty rain was falling across most of the county, but in the higher elevations of northernmost Oakland County, snow was winning out over the hail pellets that bounced off my porch railings. Chickadees and Downy Woodpeckers switched into a feeding frenzy mode at my window feeder in response to my offering of sunflower seeds. They were restless and so was I. I am an unabashed partisan of hiking in almost any weather, even when others would rather stay home. With that thought in mind, I called a friend who would likely be up for an early morning snowy adventure. Forty-five minutes later we were en route on back roads through a world of swirling white to the Lost Lake Nature Preserve, a 537-acre sanctuary that encompasses sections of Oakland County’s Holly Township and Genesee County’s Grand Blanc Township. It first opened to the public in the fall of 2015 and I had been there three times since then, but always as an attendee at official events sponsored by Southeast Michigan Land Conservancy (SMLC) and never in wintery weather. Continue reading

Hit the Slopes in Oakland County

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Winter weather is here so it’s time for some early season shredding at the three ski and snowboard resorts in Oakland County. Skiers and snowboarders can hit the slopes at Alpine Valley in White Lake, Mt. Holly in Holly, and Pine Knob in Clarkston. From beginner hills with tow ropes and Wonder Carpets to terrain parks and racing – there is something at each resort for everyone!

Check out our video and see all of the winter fun there is to be had on the slopes in Oakland County.

Whether you are a beginner or experienced skier or snowboarder, each resort offers rentals, lessons, school clubs, season passes, and other programs to complete your winter weather excursion close to home. While you’re there, skiers, snowboarders, and even spectators can take advantage of the lodge, pro shops, and events at each resort.

Learn more about each of the ski and snowboard resorts in Oakland County below. Before heading out to the slopes, contact each resort for current snow conditions, run and terrain park statuses, as well as what other feature and amenities that will be open during your trip.

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A First Look at Holly Oaks ORV Park

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) was tasked many years ago with developing an opportunity for off-road vehicle recreation in southeast Michigan, a venture that would also reduce illegal and dangerous riding on utility corridors and railway beds, as well as in parks and on private lands. Oakland County had depleted sand and gravel mines that were unlikely to ever be redeveloped for residential or commercial use because of noise from I-75 and challenging topography. It was a marriage that was meant to be and after years of labor pains, the result will soon emerge as Holly Oaks ORV Park, the first ORV Park in Oakland County.  It will be the second state park in Michigan to be jointly managed by the state and a county parks agency. Continue reading

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

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