logan creek sna lies on the northern side of clark lake and is dominated by a northern wet-mesic forest. a small prairie buffers the parking lot from the woods.
we had a fun time running thru the beeches and hemlocks, cedars and birches. critters mammalian, amphibian, and reptilian darting off the path ahead of us left and right. one of the board walks was out, and we were losing daylight, so we weren’t able to see the lake, but hopefully we’ll be back some day.
it was a hot one. i visited whitefish bay dunes—what the wdnr calls “the largest and most significant Great Lakes dunescape in Wisconsin”—when it was in the mid-90s. tough going but very focused, and not many other folks on the trails. the dunes range from open beach right on the lake to heavy forest a couple dunes back.
i took the northern trail to “old baldy” (the highest dune in wisconsin at 93 ft above lake level), which came out of northern mesic forest into open glades of juniper and fern, not to mention all sorts of small, ground-hugging plants i hadn’t the slightest clue on. very unique habitat inhabited by very unique flora. after climbing up baldy i took the southern trail back, which lulls thru a forest of balsam fir, white cedar, and birch on the backside of the fore dune—very fragrant and pleasant despite the heat, especially along the hollows.
(by the way, i love that the wdnr uses the word “dunescape.”)
ellison bluff is a long terrace of the niagra escarpment. it’s ledge features white cyprus and the land stretching out behind it features a northern mesic forest made of ash, beech, maple, and oak. thanks for to door county for preserving this space.
meridian state park is a forest, alkaline marsh, and sedge meadow on an isthmus between kangaroo lake and lake michigan in door county, wisconsin. the prominent outcropping of the niagra escarpment is something else, but so is the wood and the marsh. tremendous. thanks to door county for tending this land, and the workers who were there clearing trails as we walked them.
bailey’s harbor boreal forest and wetlands is exactly what it sounds like! a fantastic and barebones trail thru the woods with extensive bryophytes and currently-blazing fall colors. a newer section goes along the lakeshore. thanks to the wisconsin dnr for caring for this site!
the ridges sanctuary was the first land trust set up in wisconsin, in 1937. among other features, the main point of interest is the series of ridges and swales that resulted from the lowering of lake michigan’s shoreline. due to its ancient history, its southward facing, and its proximity to lake michigan, the ridges contain largely boreal forests similar to those found far northwest in wisconsin, while the swales mostly contain marsh and bog flora. they are a sight to behold. this unique ecosystem makes the site one with a high ratio of rare plants in the midwest. –oh, and we saw a porcupine!
toft point state natural area is a 732-acre piece of land in door county, wi tucked between two bays. with boreal forest, mesic forest, and sedge meadow and swampland, it boasts one of the most diverse bryophyte communities in the state. it was a distinctly different feeling walking thru these woods.
thanks to uw-green bay and the wi nature conservancy for maintaining this patch of earth.
I don’t usually put purely personal moments on this blog, but on my recent trip up north to Door County, my family was able to watch two amanita mushrooms go thru their life cycle over a couple days. While this was not the famed “fly agaric” (Amanitamuscaria), all the amanitas I’ve found in the wild have a similar air and stateliness.
I first started learning about amanitas from R. Gordon Wasson and Terrence McKenna a loooong time ago; while I don’t agree with their theories much any longer, I think their passion for the fly agaric and related mushrooms is understandable to anyone who has come across them in a secluded forest or a mountain clearing.
I think they belonged to the American species cluster called “gemmed amanita,” but couldn’t be sure–I’m happy for anyone to enlighten me if they know better!
Here’s one of the mushrooms: note the distinguishing features of the volva (the bulbous base from which the stalk grows) and the universal veil remnants (the “worts”) on the cap.
heins creek nature preserve is located on an isthmus in bailey’s harbor, door county, wi. the creek flows from kangaroo lake (a former bay) to lake michigan, keeping the lakes connected despite centuries of land incursion.
northern blue flag was in arresting bloom when we visited, and the mosquitoes plentiful. thanks to the door county land trust for preserving this unique spot.