Maple’s Sweet Story at our Metroparks!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“A sap-run is the sweet good-by of winter. It is the fruit of the equal marriage of the sun and frost.” John Burroughs, Signs and Seasons (1886)

Eastern bluebirds had been flitting about my meadow for the past few weeks. Skunk cabbage emerged from frozen mud down at the marsh. Great Blue Herons and Sandhill Cranes stalked the edge of our county’s wetlands as the duel between the seasons accelerated. Those signs all teased of the approach of spring and then the county was bathed in blue sky with temperatures flirting with the 50 degree mark last weekend. Continue reading

Adventuring Up North at Stony Creek!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

A dusting of Halloween night snow whitened the hills of northern Oakland County, confirming the duel between autumn and winter has accelerated. In anticipation of that forecasted seasonal change, I accepted the invitation of two outdoor adventuring ICU nurses that are avid hikers to join them for an “up north feeling” trek at Stony Creek Metropark, one of 13 parks in Southeast Michigan managed by Huron-Clinton Metroparks. Our destination for the last hike of October was the southwest corner of Stony Creek, the section that is located entirely within Oakland County and has thirteen miles of hilly trails dedicated to mountain bikers, hikers, and perhaps in a few more weeks, if Mother Nature is willing, and it looks that way, cross-country skiers. Continue reading

An Oakland Audubon Birding Adventure & More!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Oakland Audubon Society offers free, fun filled trips for birders of all ages. They are enriching family-friendly events where participants often encounter the unexpected. As expected, my hike with their “young birders” last Saturday morning at 2,454-acre Indian Springs Metropark was no exception. Thirty-six species of birds, including five different species of swallows, were encountered during our two and a half hour meander, but my two favorite species of wildlife encountered were not birds. One had scales, the other fur. It’s not every day I witness an eastern garter snake up in a tree or go face to face with a pair of young thirteen-lined ground squirrels, but on Saturday I did.

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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

Mystery of Stony Creek’s Osprey Trail

A photograph of three interpretive signs and their wooden posts in Stony Creek Metropark. Two smaller signs to the left show maps. A large dark brown wooden sign on the right shows an arrow pointing up. The text reads: Osprey Trail 1.8. Mile Loop. Underneath in a smaller font, it reads: Primitive Trail-Foot Traffic Only Expect Wet Areas-Uneven Ground and Minor Obstacles Follow Blue Dots

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“Get that ‘up north’ feeling without leaving the suburbs at top-rated Stony Creek Metropark. Extending across Oakland and Macomb counties, the park’s 4,435 scenic acres abound with opportunity for outdoor recreation all year-long” (Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority). There’s so much more than an up north feeling that Stony Creek offers, but just the words “up north feeling” was enough of a reminder for me to head back to the eastern edge of our county for a final hike of summer. Continue reading