It’s Spring – Let’s Hike an Oakland County Trail

Now that spring is finally here, there’s no better time to get outside and take in the sounds and sights of spring. Did you know that Oakland County and its surrounding areas offer miles and miles of trails for your enjoyment? Whether you want to jog through a park, stroll through to check out spring flowers, take a family bike ride, or saddle up on a horse, there’s a perfect trail for you. Continue reading

Bear Creek Nature Park: Hike, Explore, Play, Refresh

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into the trees. The wind will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” Those words of John Muir fit my exploration of Bear Creek Nature Park last Friday afternoon. The temperature hovered just above the single digits, strong winds rustled dry oak leaves, and long-missing brilliant sunshine made snow sparkle.

Bear Creek is a publicly accessible 107-acre park that has been managed by the Parks and Recreation Commission of the Charter Township of Oakland since 1977. Parking permits are not required. There are no bears at Bear Creek, and Bear Creek is not a wilderness by any means, but the landscape has a rich history of farming and cattle grazing going back to European settlement in 1827. Continue reading

Lakeville Swamp Sanctuary: A Sacred Place of Cedars

Wilder Side of Oakland County 

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“I enter the swamp as a sacred place”— Henry David Thoreau.

Cedar swamp habitat takes on a special beauty that is mysterious, captivating and full of wonder in winter. It’s also a vital place of survival for rare species of flora and fauna, functions as a water storage location, and often as an aquifer recharging site. The Lakeville Swamp Sanctuary, managed by the Michigan Nature Association, is one the highest quality wetland complexes found on the Wilder Side of Oakland County. One week has passed since I trekked into that swamp under a light drizzle laced with wet snow flakes. I emerged with mud caking my boots, ankles, knees and backside. I was a bit bruised and slightly scratched, rather wet and tired, yet exceedingly happy and eager to return on a day when the sun shines. Continue reading

When the Moon Shadows Dance

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Night hiking is always an adventure, but it becomes a five-star adventure on a winter’s night. Hiking with a good friend, a group of friends, or like-minded adventurers adds to the pleasure, but even solo night trekkers are never really alone. Unseen creatures rustle through brush, or crunch through crusty snow stirring our senses into hyperactivity. The hooting of owls is a thrilling and comforting sound that brings smiles for those in the know. Yet sometimes, the whinnies of Screech Owls, deep melodious hoots of Great Horned Owls and the caterwauling conversations of the swampland-loving Barred Owls send shivers down the backs of folks who never tread trails after the sun sets. Continue reading

Northern Border: A Year’s End Salute to Hiking

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

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Sixty-five! That’s how many times I set out on a trail within the boundaries of Oakland County this year. Most were short meanders of three or four miles that followed designated trails in our Oakland County Parks, the Huron Clinton Metroparks or wildlands managed by local units of government. Some hikes were adventuresome treks of ten or more miles in our State Recreation Areas and State Parks managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. All were pleasurable, even when mosquitos swarmed, thunder rumbled, the mercury plunged, or humidity glued my shirt to my chest. Song birds sang, snakes slithered, owls hooted, turkeys trotted, Sandhill cranes trumpeted, turtles sun bathed, and once at dusk a coyote yipped. On a snowy day, both a cardinal and a deer froze for photos as I meandered close by both of them. It was a good year and I met people who shared the passion of the wilder side of nature’s way. Continue reading