Posts Tagged ‘Michigan State Parks’


1st Spring Flowers for S.E.Michigan

May 14, 2014

Finally we have some Spring flowers blooming, and many more on the verge of taking over the forests and meadows in S.E.Michigan. It has been a very odd Springtime this year. The “Blood-Root” flowers have already bloomed and gone away. Time for the masses to bloom, and fill in everything.


Blood Root group blooming in late April


Natives used the roots for Red & Orange dye


The “Trout-Lilies” are blooming at this moment (middle of May), along with the May-Apples and “Skunk-Cabbage” in all the wet areas.



Skunk Cabbage stretching it’s leaves


One May Apple plant that will blossom a single white flower


In late May, a single green Fruit will form under the broad leaves


Trout Lily. They grow in patches along wet areas.


You can “Download” our early Spring Flowers, ID sheets here at the Link. We are working on an updated version at this moment. Download the ID Sheets Here.













While you are out searching the Forests in S.E.Michigan, for sprouting wild Flowers, take care in watching out for fresh blooming Poison Ivy. It is at it’s strongest in the Springtime, when all the poisons are concentrated in the stems and tips of the new sprouts. At this stage, it may only take a slight brush up against the plant, to contract a severe case of Poison Ivy.


1st Wild Flower HIKE Reviewed

May 13, 2013

BaldMFlowersNormally we do not schedule Hikes on a Holiday weekend. It conflicts with various family obligations and gatherings, and that is not what we are about here. But……we received so many requests to do a Wild Flower HIKE on Saturday, May 11th, the day before Mothers Day, that we thought it would be OK to do something short and local that maybe even Mom could come and enjoy.

About 18 people showed up for an interesting day in weather and Flowers. So did 6 Doggie friends as well. Now……it is a testament to all you HM members, that after 15 years of exploring Southeastern Michigan, your Group has grown to over 6,000 members, of which some 35-80 of you attend almost every Hike we schedule. Pretty amazing to have 80 people on a Hike. Even having 40 people is pretty overwhelming.

That is why the 18 members and Doggie friends who showed up, made this Hike very similar BaldMountainFlowers1to the way Hikes went, when the Group was young and had around a couple of thousand members. We would get 12-20 Hikers joining in at every Hike.

It is a much different dynamic when there is under 20 Hikers participating. Everyone gets a chance to speak with everyone else at the Hike. There are EXCELLENT conversations on many outdoor subjects, especially IDing the different Flowers, Plants and creatures we come across on the Trails. Now this also takes place on every Hike. BUT…..the difference is that all 18 Hikers would do a communal discussion on a discovered Flower. Some had ID sheets, others had ID Books and others just carried their knowledge and experience. Whatever was the input, almost everyone had input, which made each Flower stop along the Trails and extremely learned one.

No Flower or plant was left un-IDed before the end of the Hike. Flower ID discussions also turned into other outdoor conversations connecting the various Flowers, Plants and experiences together. EVERYONE’s experiences. Because the Group was small enough, Everyone got a chance to express their opinions, comments and experiences, while they had the attention of the rest of the 18 people hiking with them.

The pack of Doggie friends were very interesting factor at the Hike too. They all got along admirably, and you could see the enjoyment and even smiles on their faces through out the Hike. 🙂

The Hike quickly became a Hike of old friends. I do not believe anyone did not feel this same way. You can feel the vibe in the Group when this happens in this manner. I believe that everyone feels its too. Even the 5 additional people who arrived a bit late for the Hike, yet alone on the Trails, tracked the Group down. CONGRATS on both the abilities to find us and the determination to keep looking until you did discover our whereabouts. 🙂 Well Done Explorers!

The HIKE pictures are about 70% from a new member….Majd, and the rest are from Kevin, Jeanine and myself. We will be repeating the Spring Wild Flowers HIKE in the next week or so, for those who missed this last minute scheduled HIKE. It was mainly talked about on Facebook;s HIKING MICHIGAN’s PAGE. BUT…..everyone on the official web site Hiking Groups email list, received an email announcement on the Thursday before the Hike. You cannot always depend on Facebook for our HIKE schedule. YES….we get most of the Hikes posted there. But the guaranteed place to make sure you get a notice of each and every HIKE, and nothing else, is by being an official member and on our emails list.

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It only takes an email to me, Rob Golda, through our web site at:        Just drop us that email, tell us which Hiking Group you wish to join (the S.E.MI. Group, or the Hiking North/Central group) and let us know the county you live in, so we can better schedule Hikes near to the majority of the members. That;s it. YOU will NEVER miss a HIKE Notice, ever again.

Also wanted to let everyone know that we will be starting something new next week. It is our SECRET HIKES PROGRAM. These special scheduled Hikes will be to places not know by anyone, or by very few people. They are special Nature places and environments I have personally kept secret for up to 30 years now. The first 15 people to email in a reservation to these HIKEs announcements, will be invited to join in. 15 people maximum. In some cases that total will drop to 10 people only. To not disturb the local wildlife and environments. We will be visiting and exploring rare environments, Lost Islands, secret paths, Trails and Hiking areas that almost know one really know about. Some very true Explorations.


Some Reminders

April 9, 2013

We try and keep Links to much of our PDF INFO sheets, Maps and other helpful outdoor information, on most of our NET locations. But the best place to go is our web site, where you will always find everything we have, there for Download.

If it is Maps you want, then the Park Maps page is where you need to be. From the PARK Maps page you can also head over to the SOUTHEASTERN MICHIGAN Parks page. These couple of pages, linked to the main PARK Maps page, have over 120 Maps and Parks listed around S.E. Michigan. Maps on how to get to the Parks, Pictures and many details and contact numbers. Go to the PARKS MAP Page of the HM web site. Or go deeper on those pages and get yourself to the SOUTHEASTERN Michigan Parks page, where you will find those 120 Parks located in S.E. Michigan.

Spring is about to POP. Animal ID sheets, Birding ID, Raptors ID sheets, Heron reports, and all types of Guides are available to Download on the web site DOWNLOADS Page. This single page of the HM web site is being expanded at this moment, to become two full pages of PDF files that are free to Download and print for yourself at home. You may find many of these Info sheets and Guides, useful in your early Springtime explorations.

The Hiking Michigan Outdoor NewsLetter is also available from the HM main website. The quarterly issue is posted on the site to read right there, or Download bits and pieces for home reading. Many excellent and helpful articles from Birding experts, Naturalists and just plain Michigan Hikers, who are willing to share their experiences with all of us for free. Check out the NEWSLETTER Page of the website.

So head on over to the official Hiking Michigan website and check out some of the many things available to You, for Free. Take a look at the Hikes schedule while you are there and see if there is something you would like to join in on. Hopefully there is something that interests you, and we will see you out on the Trails, real soon.


Winter Hiking Needs

November 25, 2012

So we are finally starting to feel winter temps and conditions. It is time to pull out the winter outdoor equipment, do some cleaning, waterproofing and replacing, to be prepared for the first descent snowfalls a coming.

Boots are my first priority. I bought a lifetime pair of “Gortex” waterproof, high-top, “Vibram sole” boots a few years ago. I expect to never replace these boots again. I do a good cleaning and touch-up waterproofing at this time each year.

I have done the same thing with my final over-layered jacket. I will check my fleeces and Polypropylene underwear for holes or need to replace them. This includes a full set. Uppers, bottoms and starter socks. I then will purchase some new wool-blend socks each winter, as well as double check my dual gloves system. I carry both a thin Polypropylene set for when I heat up while Hiking, and an outer layer set of waterproof gloves for severe conditions.

I am, always checking my various Nylon blend Hiking Pants for holes and repairs. Plus I have a couple of extra think blends just for the high-wind, extra cold winter days. ABSOLUTELY NO JEANS ALLOWED. These are the very worst kind of pants to wear in any season, but especially during winter outings. They absorb moisture and hold the cold to your body. Even a good pair of Polypropylene underwear will have a hard time fighting off all the negative affects of wearing your favorite pair of jeans.

I will also give my hats a good cleaning and look over at this time as well. I have a number of different kinds and thickness of Hats for different winter outdoor conditions. Like my gloves, I tend to carry two hats. A thin one for heavy work conditions out on the trails, so I do not overheat, and a thicker wool-bl;end, waterproof hat for the more severe conditions. It is easy to stash a second hat and pair of gloves in your final coat layer. It is so well worth the effort for both comfort and convenience.

A few side items are my handy and inexpensive black garbage bag. Never sit in the wet snow or on that wet log again. A water carrying system,. A bladder Pack is not always as easy to manage in winter conditions. I prefer to stash multiple water containers through out my cloths. Some for easy access, and others for deep storage as my Hiking day rolls onward.

There is always the small utility Kit. Knife, Fire starter, Whistle, Magnifier, and what ever else that YOU have discovered is you creature comforts on winter outdoor activities. This can vary greatly from one person to another.

This year I am trying out a new “Columbia” heat-lined system final overcoat. This is my final layer after a complete Polypropylene underwear, Nylon Pants, Fleece vest and possible undercoat. I have already done some preliminary tests and think I just maybe loosing the final long-sleeved fleece undercoat. This will reduce much bulk in my upper body and allow much easier ventilation during high exertion periods.

My Boots are ready, got some new socks, my Polypropylene’s are all in great shape. I have three sets of different thicknesses. Looking at a new outer glove layer. Something still water and wind proof, but a bit less bulky then what I am using now. A couple of new Hats are in order as well. Again, something more synthetic and lightweight, yet even more functional then what I have been using for the last few years.

So there we go. You can see that it takes a few years to actually tweak your full winter wear system. And there is also the new equipment that arrives each season that may fill that longtime need and desire you have had. You build on these things, getting better, more light weight, more functional and more convenient every year. These are the things that truly make winter outdoor adventures so much fun. Being prepared ahead of time.



So What do you Do?

November 15, 2012

Summer is gone……Fall has faded…….and the best we get for the moment is the 40 degree, sunny afternoon. The big snows are next. Bummer? NO. If you where born here in Michigan, you understand that we are the lucky people who experience all four seasons.

OH…….Big deal you say. YES……it is a big deal. I know it takes some adjustment every year, to let all the green and beautiful temperatures go away, and then be expected to embrace sub-zero weather, mounds of snow, and digging out your car after you wake to an 8 inch night-time snow fall.

But……if you bundle yourself up and head out into the forest, after one of those evening 8 inch snow falls, wonder and beauty awaits. Those blankets of clean fresh snow covering everything. Fresh animal tracks. The echoes of Birds in what is now caverns of snow cover. THE QUIET! Nothing is more peaceful and quite then the deep forest after a fresh snow fall.

YES Again… all can be a big pain in the butt, and each year, as I get older, I find a new excuse on why I want Spring to return quicker. But those fade immediately after the first real snow fall. Then it’s Snowman building, Snow shoeing, Snow Hiking, Sledding, and of course those long stops of contemplating solitude, deep in the woods, where there is nothing but the sounds of the Birds and wandering critters.

Try to embrace this years Winter. If you where born here in Michigan, you have to be tired of whining about it by now. 🙂 It is part of our unique state. It is just another reason I remain here in Michigan and will die here in Michigan. I have been to most of the states in the USA and many places in Canada. I have travels to many remote places around the world. But it is Michigan, with it’s four seasons, endless lakes and streams, rolling forested hills and meadows, that keep me satisfied.

There is an old saying that goes…….The views can be had from the Hilltops, but the fruit grows in the Valleys. What this means is……here in Michigan, we have the diversity of many different habitats, natural environments and unique places due to all the water and diversity of the lands. We also have the four seasons which effect all of this.

So embrace Winter. It is OK to wine a bit when it is time to dig out the car. But after you have finished, head out and enjoy the outdoors and another beautiful season in Michigan.


The Smells of Memories

October 31, 2012

It is said that the biggest memory connections in the brain, are triggered by our sense of smell. This isn’t always an easy concept to except until you experience those moments when a smell brings in a flood of memories and images you hardly remembered was there.

I was doing some end of Fall walks with y Mom this past week, along some of the feeder streams at Stony Creek Metro Park. There where more leaves on the ground then left in the trees, so the smell of decaying leaves filled the air. We came upon a beautiful spot along the Creek and sat by the rocks there.

Even though we both smelled the almost overwhelming leaves smell, I guess it was not the right tree leaves we where smelling. When we sat down we both smelled a distinctive decaying leaf smell, that suddenly triggered all types of old memories. That smell of an Elm tree.

Where I grew up, the area was predominately Elm trees, so when the Fall came around, the predominate smell was that of the changing Elm tree leaves. Now…….it may seem a bit strange that an Elm tree should smell that much different, but maybe it was the cool Creek water that carried the aroma and enhanced it. I do not know for sure. But I do know that we both smelled it at the same time.

Almost on cue, both of us started telling stories and reminding one another of the old neighborhood, where I grew up, and Mom raised her family. The memories poured in. We sat there by the Creek for an hour telling stories, one after another.

Right before we stood and continued on our walk, we both realized the same thing. The smell in the air was what had triggered these endless memories. They where sitting there……but it was that special smell that suddenly brought them to the surface. The rest of our Creek walk was a direct connection to the outdoor smells and aromas we would encounter. And sure enough……with each new odor, came a new memory and story.

Suddenly everything felt so familiar. That connection to the aromas and then the release of those stored memories was an excellent experience for the both of us. It didn’t matter anymore where we where walking. We where completely focused on the next smell. 🙂


Again…..the Volunteers!

October 14, 2012

It is getting so, that almost every thing that I hear about, that truly benefits all the people of Michigan, is being done by various Volunteers and Volunteer groups. Selfless acts, done for no money or in many cases, little to no acknowledgement.

Invasive Species control and removal…….almost exclusively Volunteers. The Osprey Programs over the years. Backed by the Detroit Zoo and others, but only happened because of the participation of the Volunteers that made the programs possible.

Trails maintenance in our State Parks. Almost exclusively being done by Scouts and Volunteer groups. Very little to no efforts by our own DNR. Which we pay to do this,

River and Lakes cleanup and logging. Again, besides some very specific and few special studies by groups mostly financed by our Tax dollars, these activities take place because of the Volunteer groups.

Although this actually makes me a bit angry that our DNR has lost focus on what we pay them for and what their real duties are as the Department of Natural Resources, and not the Department of New Recreation, I am so very proud to see all the Volunteers who have stepped up to take care of our Natural Resources, Trails, Birds, Invasive Species and the overall health of the ecosystems through out our beautiful state.

If not for all of your dedicate people, who do not get paid, or seldom even Thanked for your hard manual labor, we would not have the health and beauty we do experience in our state. Our own DNR should be looking at all of you for examples on what THEY should be doing, and how THEY should be acting.

Thank You Volunteers everywhere in Michigan. You now make this state what it is, in the way of healthy Natural Resources. Maybe some day, you all will get the help from the agency we all back with our PASSPORT money, and the DNR will actually set up programs that are real and not fake in their efforts to keep healthy ecosystems flourishing in Michigan.


Fall Birds are Singing

October 9, 2012

You may have noticed an increase in Bird songs taking place each Fall season. Nothing more soothing then sitting under a Fall tree which has turned bright red, and hearing the beautiful sounds of the many different birds that have not migrated, echoing through out the forest.

It is an interesting phenomena that in the Fall, most birds will start to sing once again. In the Springtime, the males are claiming territory and trying to attract a mate with their songs. It is a wonderful time of year, filled with so many different songs and sounds. Then……after mating and nest building, many birds either stop completely, or cut their singing to a minimum. The summer months get pretty quite.

Then again, in the Fall, here in the Northeastern latitudes, many birds start their singing once again. There are a few reasons for this behaviour. Since it is the males that do most of the singing, it is the increased Testosterone both in the Spring months, and again in the Fall, that triggers these songs of territorial claims and mating attractions.

Like the cycles of life, after the Spring and Summer mating and rearing of young, the males go into another round of wanting to produce young. This triggers Testosterone production and singing. The cold weather then quickly stops the whole process. But in the meantime……..we all get the beautiful benefits of the songs they produce for a month or so, during the N.E. Fall season.

Scientist have also suggested that this Fall singing is connected to a group species, territorial declaration. The birds that do not migrate, will semi-group together, and stake claims to certain territories. There is some Social status involved here as well. Kinda like who is in charge while the majority of the species head off to wintering grounds,

No matter what exactly are the reasons for this resurgence in bird songs each Fall season, it is there, echoing in the colorful Fall trees, every year for our enjoyment. So, this year, when you head out for that Fall colors walk in the woods, stop and listen, and do not be surprised when you here many of those wonderful songs you heard in the Springtime. It is just another beautiful thing we get to experience here in Michigan, while living in a state that has all four seasons. What a nice Perk. 🙂


Feel the Trails…..Sense your surroundings

September 26, 2012

Alright……Be the Ball……sense the goal line, and so on. All sounds silly. But there is much to be said about sensing your surroundings while out in the Forests of Michigan, and trusting those feelings. The trusting part is as important as the ability to sense the forest around you while out on the Trails.

At our last Hike, a regular and experienced Hiker came wandering up while we where already at the FEN area. Because of the traffic nightmare we all ran into on our way to the Park, everyone arrived at all different unexpected times.

Well this Hiker had even missed the second group leaving the parking area late. She non the less, took her map and headed out on the Trails on her own. She was very happy at her abilities to find the Group at the FEN. But I could see it in her face, that she was even more happy to have trusted her abilities, remained calm and actually enjoyed her private time on the Trails, getting to the FEN.

I believe that it was her confidence in herself that was her biggest asset on her solo Hike. Her fear was not doing the talking, her faith in her many Trails experiences and just those calm moments at trail intersections, allowed her to make rational and intelligent decisions and arrive at the FEN to meet the group already there. While still enjoying her adventure there.

I have tried to tell everyone for years about my personal experiences, alone out in the outdoors of Michigan. Those times when it is just you and the Lake. Those times when you become the frog in the pond and the Forest excepts you as part of the whole thing. The best things happen when YOU are not the odd thing in the outdoors. When you become just another tree or frog at pond-side, the critters wander up, Birds do not seem to have that fear any longer and your outdoor experiences can become lifetime, one of a kind memories.

This all starts with ones ability to head out on the trails and not just follow a map, but sense all your surroundings. Is there a lake to the right of the trail. Yes…..and it is due west of the trail. Is there a stream flowing into that lake?  Yes…..and it is coming from a ridge-line that runs along the east side of the trail. When those types of common observations, and the fear removal becomes common place, then many of those senses and natural skills just come to the forefront. Nothing is blocking them from doing so.

Trust yourself!  Cation is a good thing, but most of the time…..Fear is not. Being prepared with a Map and/or compass is a good backup. But taking notice of your surroundings and directions is even more important. Ask our North/Central director Mark when he wanders the unmapped “HAY-MARSH” we see so many wonderful pictures from him from. He uses his senses, observational skills, and is calm of mind and spirit, to be able to take in all the info around him that tells him where he is at, without a map or compass. It is his state of mind and soul that produces the pictures we see from his wanderings. He just finds those spots. just steps into those rare situations, and becomes part of his HAY-MARSH. It all reflects in his photography, discoveries and experiences there.


Seven Lakes TEASER

September 13, 2012

Fens are truly unique environments. We are very lucky here in Michigan to have as many as we do. There are not many Fens in other states. It takes just the right conditions to form a Fen. Once in existence it produces rare plant and insect life, found only in those Fen areas.

Here are a few pictures from the Mudd Lake Fen at Seven Lakes State Park, which we will be visiting this Saturday, 9/15/12.

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