Monday, July 6, 2009

Kensington Metropark Nature Trails - Part Two:

Aspen Trail, Pine Loop, Tamarack Trail

I returned to Kensington Metropark this past weekend to check out the trails I didn't see on my last visit (and for a re-match with the Sandhill Crane). After watching a Great Blue Heron bathing in the lagoon behind the nature center, I started the morning off with Aspen Trail and hit the jackpot (as much of a jackpot as one can get in Metro Detroit).The tall grasses and cattails which line the start of the trail proved an excellent place to spy on a family of Sandhill Cranes. A mother and three young birds picked their way through the vegetation searching for breakfast while I watched from the edge of the trail.

Just before the path curves and enters the woods, a sign encourages hikers to venture off the trail to view what is left of an old summer home from the early 1900s (a couple of chunks of stone foundation are all that remain today). I happened to stop before crossing a small bridge over a stream at the edge of the woods and caught a fawn watching me from the side of the trail a safe distance away. We observed each other for several minutes, then its mother emerged from the trees with another fawn and all three bounded gracefully away to safety. Recognizing me as the suspicious character that I am, she kept a close eye on me, and I was able to watch the little family for several minutes as I made my way down the trail.

Aspen Trail turned out to be the perfect place to encounter wildlife on this particular morning. A couple of wild turkeys ambled across the path in front of me after the deer disappeared into the trees, frogs kicked their way through the many trickling streams, and Sandhill Cranes were a constant presence feeding in the aquatic habitat. The Pine Loop is a short diversion from Aspen Trail which branches northwest through slightly thicker vegetation, and Tamarack Trail winds through a very charming boggy landscape partially protected by a boardwalk.

While taking in this beautiful area, I also imagined what it would look like in other seasons. As I said in Part 1, I am very much looking forward to visiting this network of short trails later in the year when the leaves change to spectacular shades of red, orange, and yellow, and later still under a blanket of sparkling snow.