Flowering plants still abloom along the hiking trails

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Russ Helwig | August 21, 2013

 Nine of us decided to go to the Nordic trails on County Highway H to hike four or five miles of trail.  We chose to hike these trails because they are wide and mowed, which should keep the mosquitos manageable.  It worked so I only had to apply a small amount of DEET on the back of my shirt to manage the pesky critters. A cool temperature and observing the flowers and butterflies along the trail made the hike very enjoyable.

After consulting the trail map we decided to take a combination of yellow, blue, green, and purple trails that ended up being roughly five and a half miles.

We observed several giant swallowtail butterflies as well as other varieties.  The inedible, but beautiful bright red fruit on prickly ash, our only native citrus, was in abundance along the edges of the trail.  Sunflowers and coneflowers were plentiful as were the invasive spotted knapweed.  The trail goes through deciduous wood, meadow, past great views into valleys and to a small lake, and through both red and white pine forests.

Beautiful hiking weather brought twenty nine energetic walkers to split into groups depending upon abilities or desires for length and pace of hike.

I hiked with a group of seventeen who carpooled to the Emma Carlin trailhead off County Highway Z.  From there we hiked the Ice Age Trail to the Southern Kettle Moraine Forest headquarters. This stretch of trail passes through some beautiful prairie and over a small trout stream. A few of us ambled behind to see all the flowers in the prairie and to photograph some of them. As we approached the woods west of the headquarters I received a cell call from Norwin Watson. He and the lead group were waiting for us at the headquarters. He was just checking to see how far we were.

After a rest stop at the headquarters we hiked the Stony Ridge Nature Trail and continued on the steep ridge past the Ice Age Trail Shelter to Stute Springs. From there we took a trail to Big Hill which is the highest hill in the vicinity for a great view and another rest stop at the summit.

Then it was back to Stute Springs and the road back to the Carlin trailhead. Along the path from Stute Springs to County Highway Z we pulled and bagged a small patch of invasive Japanese Hedge Parsley on the south side of the road. A bit farther on there was a much larger patch which we did not have time or containers for so we left it. Hopefully someone will deal with this small patch in the near future before the seeds spread. The parsley is in bloom and many seed heads have formed but are still green and staying on the plants.

From there we stopped the Edge of Town Restaurant in Palmyra for lunch.

In the meantime the rest of walkers stayed to hike from our meeting place. Rita Fox reported that a group of five, including her grandchildren--one in a bike trailer which she pulled--hiked around Lake LaGrange on the Ice Age Trail and horse trails. The remaining adventurers hiked across the road where the trails are narrower, also on Ice Age Trail and horse trail. It was at the LaGrange General Store where they regrouped for lunch.

Happy Trekking,



Saturday, August 24, 9 a.m., Trail Work: Meet at U.S. Highway 12 kiosk 5 miles east of Whitewater for trail maintenance: cutting back honeysuckle and other encroaching vegetation. Contact: Jerome Converse, 262-473-7304.

August 21-25, Mobile Skills Crew Event – Milwaukee River Segment, Washington County:  All kinds of trail work. Contact: Gary Klatt, 262-473-4973.

September 9-11, Mobile Skills Cree Event – Harwood Lakes Segment of Ice Age Trail, Chippewa County:  Contact: Gary Klatt, 262-473-4973.

Weekly Walks:  We meet each Tuesday at 4 p.m. and Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at the U.S. Highway 12 Ice Age National Scenic Trail crossing located about 4 miles east of Whitewater, about a quarter mile east of the intersection of U.S. 12 with Sweno Road. The parking lot is at the west end of Sherwood Forest Road, which is a short road that intersects U.S. 12 at each end. We include two or more walks of different distances on Wednesdays and also do this on Tuesdays when desired. All ages are welcome. Note that a current state park pass is required to park a car at the U.S. 12 meeting place. A daily or yearly pass may be purchased at the meeting place provided correct change is available. Trail passes are available also so if you plan to cross country ski you should pick up one of these also. You may also purchase passes at the forest headquarters between Palmyra and Eagle on Wisconsin Highway 59. A park pass is not required to park at the forest headquarters.

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