Orion Oaks: An Easy Autumn Meander

Fallen leaves cover a dirt path leading through trees. The rising sun can be seen through the trees where the end of the path opens up to a meadow.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Hiking can be daunting for those that never wandered off pavement or experienced any trail adventures; and at times it can be discouraging for those that have. Weather conditions change. Darkness comes early. Trails can be narrow and slippery. The visuals, perhaps comforting cues of sidewalks, buildings, road signs and urban activity are also absent. And then there is the matter of time. “My life is so busy, I only have an hour to hike and I don’t know where or how to start?”

Start now.

I’m not talking about planning an all day hike, nor suggesting a hike that takes significant planning. And I’m certainly not suggesting you do what I did a few weeks ago and set off on a 40 mile trek on the Appalachian Trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. A trek that included total elevation changes of 8,650 feet over steep rocky terrain while keeping an eye out for sunning Timber Rattlesnakes, and then before darkness fell, hanging food bags high enough between trees to make things tough for hiker-savvy black bears. “Why am I doing this?” I experienced that feeling momentarily on day two, but I trekked on, for I am hopelessly addicted to outdoor adventure. Continue reading

Our Wilderness of Little Things

A photo taken from the edge of a swamp on a cloudless day. Tall trees surround the swamp. Foliage is just starting to turn from green to fall colors.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Three weeks have raced by since the position of Planet Earth in relation to the sun signaled the autumn equinox; except during much of this week, we have been bathed in sultry summer-style heat with the mercury soaring into the 80s. Some of nature’s creatures became briefly “confused” and were stirred into off-season activity, with spring peepers sounding off from the edge of wetlands and well camouflaged gray treefrogs calling from moist foliage. A walk in the woods to the edge of my marsh reminded me of the timeless words of John Muir, “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness” and got me thinking. Continue reading

October Gold: Adventures and Situational Awareness

A view of tall trees in fall colors from across a body of water. Deep oranges, yellows, and green reflect brilliantly on top of the water.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

October heralds the peak beauty of autumn’s colors; that alone makes this month special. We are in the season of crisp morning air, fast-moving clouds, clear night sky and the last blooms of meadow wildflowers. It’s a month of roaming raccoons, woolly bear caterpillar, owls hooting, coyotes yipping, hyper-active squirrels scurrying, restless bucks in rut and osprey departing. October means scarlet sky sunsets, first frost and sudden outbursts of short-lived snowflakes. October is truly the golden month for those that love nature’s way, and perhaps the very best time to hike and explore the wilder side of Oakland County. 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

Garden of Healing and Renewal

A sign crafted of light colored, rectangular tiles reads: GARDEN OF HEALING AND RENEWAL. Pink petunias have been planted in front of the sign and tall grasses have been planted behind it.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“The Garden of Healing and Renewal is an oasis of beautiful paths, sitting areas, fountains and sculptures. It even has a labyrinth, an ancient meditation resource and symbol of spiritual healing, that incorporates a walking path to encourage both exercise and curative reflection.” McLaren Health Care.

A large sculpture of a monarch butterfly crafted from a mosaic of tiles sits in the midst of a garden. A bench stands in the background near a brick paver path. Black-eyed susans and other plants surround the sculpture.

The Garden of Healing and Renewal is not some faraway mystical place. It’s within earshot of the din of traffic on I-75 and just a few minutes drive from the busy I-75 Sashabaw Road exit in northern Oakland County. The garden and connected forested wetland of the site encompasses five acres and has a just under 1/3 of a mile of level looped trails, part of which are attractive pebble surfaced sidewalks. The McLaren Clarkston website states that it’s “Serious medicine to kick cancer. Serious healing for body and spirit.” But it’s more than that for those that explore this medically themed and rather tame corner of the Wilder Side of Oakland County. It’s a peaceful walking adventure for all ages. Continue reading