Poison Sumac: Tale of a Toxic Trailside Beauty

red poison sumac

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

As the crisp days of autumn draw near, I increase my explorations of the wondrous world of our wetlands, swamps, and marshlands. They take on a special peaceful splendor in the waning days of summer, especially in the dawn’s early light. The wetland-embracing trails on the wilder side of Oakland County lure me in as surely as honey bees fly to flowers for nectar and pollen. However, this year as in the years before, I will be watchful for and ever wary of one wetland plant in particular. This plant presents a clear and present danger to humans that have the misfortune of making physical contact. Even touching or brushing against any part of this toxic trailside beauty may lead to a world of woe and in some severe cases of exposure, a visit to an emergency department follows.

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Pleasurable Summer Paddles

Kayaking in Oakland County, Michigan

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

An early morning paddle as the sun climbs over the horizon is the perfect way to start a nature-embracing summer day in the wilder side of Oakland County. The morning mist is magical as water drips off paddles and Great Blue Herons stalk the shallows. For the night owls, paddle out into a magical time of day, a few hours before dusk to catch the moon’s shadow shimmering on the water and beavers slapping their broad tails against the water to warn of your stealthy approach. Regardless of your time preference, Oakland County waters await your canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddle board adventures!

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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