Saturday, December 25, 2010

The MacCready Reserve

What better way to spend a holiday than to go for a hike with your best pal? So, I bundled up the hound and we drove to nearby MacCready Reserve, a 408 acre parcel belonging to Michigan State University. There are six and a half miles of trails here, for walking, skiing, snowshoeing, and most importantly, dogs are welcome (on a leash, and please clean up after them).

This colorful boulder was at the edge of the parking area. Could it be an example of the state rock, known as Petoskey Stone?

We decided to do the Yellow Trail, 1.4 miles of moderate terrain. This is also called the Dynamic Forest Trail, although I'm not quite sure why.

It starts of quite level and moseys through some open woodland.

As we swung around a curve that ran near the road, we encountered our first hill. A series of gentle rolls took us up on a ridge.

I'm not sure what this plant is, but there was a fair bit of it along the trail. It has a hollow stem, and always forks into a perfect "Y" at the top.

The dried remains of its flowers (or fruits, which really are the same thing), intrigued me. I'll have to get out the field guides and see what I can find under winter vegetation.

A side trail led down a steep hill to a fen. This sign describes the fen ecosystems pretty well. While fens were few and far between in NY, and few people knew what you were talking about if you mentioned a fen, here they seem to be quite common.

And here it is, the fen:

There were lots of oaks. Apparently at one point in time, oak savannahs were common in southern Michigan. Today only a few remnants remain. I plan to visit them and do a bit of research into these nifty ecosystems.

Anyway, where there are oaks,

there are acorns, and where there are acorns,

there are deer. Deer are quite plentiful here. As in QUITE PLENTIFUL. I'd say we are practically over run with deer. And this little reserve certainly has its share, as evidenced by the numerous scrapes we passed today, where they were pawing up the snow and leaves in search of acorns, a winter staple for deer and turkeys alike.

I found this cute little nest just off the trail. Gnatcatcher? Time to break out the nest ID book, too.

Wouldn't this be lovely in a fog?

An hour and a half later Toby and I were headed back home. Passed this small herd of highland cattle along the way. They completely ignored us until someone started to bark (and it wasn't me).

And now we are home. I've refilled the birdfeeder, hung the Christmas suet, watched a neighborhood cat skulk around the house, and it is time to tackle the Room o' Boxes. There are items I need to find and I have a whole day (well, half a day now) to sort through them. Hopefully I'll succeed and not have to sort again tomorrow.


  1. Congrats on the move (and surviving it!). Looks like you and your buddy are enjoying the local nature already. Sounds like you are doing OK. I thought your vertical tree photo ("Wouldn't this be lovely in a fog"?) might make a great quilted wall hanging.

  2. You're going to have so much fun exploring all of these new places. This trail system looks like it will provide lots of interesting stuff, come Spring. I wonder what Spring plants grow on a Fen?

  3. I spent my day hiking as well -- except I was working, making sure the hunters who received new rifles this Christmas were observing our boundary lines :) Luckily, everyone was behaving and the walk was wonderful. Happy holidays to you and the hound!

    Oh, and I agree with Karen L., your vertical tree photo would make a great quilted wall hanging.

  4. You know, Anne, I wondered that myself. I'm just not that familiar with pokeweed since we didn't have it in the Adirondacks (or at least not in MY part of the Adirondacks). I'm planning to check it out again as the seasons change, though, to see if that is what it is.

  5. The Reserve was donated by the MacCready family to Michigan State University and not UM as you stated. You will run into lots of Spartans working on various projects if you hang out there much. Everyone is very willing to explain what the plans are for the projects. We hike there nearly every day. Love that place in all seasons. Welcome to southern Michigan!

  6. Oops! Sorry 'bout that, Rhonella! I guess I got the name mixed up - (University of Michigan/Michigan State University...) I'll make the correction. Thanks. :)