Lately when I’ve had a whole day free, I’ve wanted to get out and enjoy a long hike or a series of hikes. My friend and I had discussed going to Spangler today, or even Mohican State Park or Malabar Farm, for a long hike. But this morning I woke up lazy, and combined with his need to get some work done, I decided to find a couple of shorter hikes closer to home.
We started by heading to Shreve, our immediate neighbor to the south here in Wayne County, and driving west from there to Brown’s Lake Bog. I have heard little things about this nature preserve over the years, but nothing ever really stuck in my mind or interested me about it. Since it has a 1-mile easy trail winding through woods and wetlands, though, and it meant only a 15-minute drive instead of 45, I thought we should check it out.
Good choice! Located in the midst of farmland and wetlands, this nature preserve offered a peaceful place to explore (if you ignored the occasional shots from the nearby wildlife area; it is hunting season, after all). The trail took us up and around a slight ridge in the woods, past plenty of fallen or felled trees decorated with colorful lichens and fungi. We spotted three mature white-tailed deer (who, of course, bolted when they heard us) and enjoyed plenty of birdsong.
The most intriguing part of the trail, though, came as we followed an old boardwalk path back to Brown’s Lake. Despite two viewing decks, we couldn’t see much of the lake due to all the tall plants thriving in the bog. I would definitely like to see this spot in spring or early summer, just to marvel at the variety of plants and colors.
But if you look down, you’ll find the real treasures: scattered across a floating sphagnum moss mat are the vividly colored shapes that, at first, I thought were fallen leaves but quickly realized were pitcher plants. And as I started looking around, I found hundreds of these carnivorous little jewels around the boardwalk’s edges. Looking them up once I got home, I discovered they belong to the species Sarracenia purpurea, an especially hardy species of this plant. How cool!
Once my friend could tear me away from the bog, we headed back to Wooster and one of my favorite places, Secrest Arboretum at the OARDC. I had found a map of the arboretum online and discovered a small network of trails through the tree plantings on the east side of the drive. Again, these were easy trails that led us past the dawn redwoods, along the highway, through pines and oaks and beeches and many more. We even passed a handful of holly varieties that put me in a holiday mood.
I really love that walking and hiking are giving me more opportunities to explore my local area and to find some of these hidden treasures, and I look forward to more exploring in the New Year.