Tag Archives: state park

Pine Cliff Trail

3rdarm marcia kostick marcia mello etta arthur mullen chicago wisconsin mineral point governor dodge state park pine cliff natural area

Located within Wisconsin’s Driftless Area, Pine Cliff features an unusual southern pine relict community perched atop several sandstone cliffs and adjacent north-facing slopes. Although one of many small relicts known in this area, Pine Cliff is important because all three species of pine native to the state, red, white, and jack, occur here together, disjunct from their typical range in Wisconsin.

3rdarm marcia kostick marcia mello etta arthur mullen chicago wisconsin mineral point governor dodge state park pine cliff natural area

White pine dominates the site, but red and jack pines grow on the exposed, droughty summit. All three are successfully reproducing.

3rdarm marcia kostick marcia mello etta arthur mullen chicago wisconsin mineral point governor dodge state park pine cliff natural area

More mesic north-facing slopes provide suitable habitat for numerous ferns, mosses, and lichens, particularly the noticeable smooth rock tripe.

3rdarm marcia kostick marcia mello etta arthur mullen chicago wisconsin mineral point governor dodge state park pine cliff natural area

Away from the cliffs is a southern dry-mesic forest composed of red oak, white oak, basswood, white birch, and black cherry. The pines supply habitat for more northernly bird species including black-throated green and blackburnian warblers.

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State Park Ice Cream

3rdarm marcia kostick marcia mello etta arthur mullen chicago wisconsin mineral point

I love that Governor Dodge State Park sells ice cream cones. Marcia got a peanut butter turtle and I got blueberry pie, with buttery crust.

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Twin Valley Lake

3rdarm marcia kostick marcia mello etta arthur mullen chicago wisconsin mineral point governor dodge state park

We returned to Governor Dodge State Park for the first time since last June, when 2 tornados rolled through these valleys, and we had to hide in a cave. It was Father’s Day, and the main area at Cox Hollow Lake was jammed.

3rdarm marcia kostick marcia mello etta arthur mullen chicago wisconsin mineral point governor dodge state park

Instead we headed over to Twin Valley Lake, for some mother / daughter tubing while I napped on the grass.

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Ancient Giants of the Northwoods

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Etta and I enjoy visiting beautiful parts of the country and going on day hikes.

3rdarm wisconsin northwoods travel wisconsin tourism chicago arthur mullen hiking eating restaurants attractions fallison lake nature trail

Even when these hikes are only a couple miles long, I panic and begin to despair towards the back half.

3rdarm wisconsin northwoods travel wisconsin tourism chicago arthur mullen hiking eating restaurants attractions fallison lake nature trail

So it’s important that we find the right mix of natural beauty and for my sanity’s sake, brevity.

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Fallison Lake Nature Trail is a 2.5-mile loop trail rolls through rich birding terrain.

3rdarm wisconsin northwoods travel wisconsin tourism chicago arthur mullen hiking eating restaurants attractions fallison lake nature trail

The lake is surrounded by a mixed coniferous/deciduous forest of balsam fir, hemlock, red pine, white pine, sugar maple, white birch, and large-toothed and trembling aspen.

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The trail crosses bogs and a hemlock glade. Some of these ancient giants of the Northwoods are hundreds of years old.

3rdarm wisconsin northwoods travel wisconsin tourism chicago arthur mullen hiking eating restaurants attractions fallison lake nature trail

The longest loop of the trail goes all the way around 50-acre Fallison Lake: we took a shortcut and skipped the final bog to cut down on my whining!

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Ship Rock

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Ship Rock is a 1,024 foot outcropping of limestone created by Wisconsin’s ancient glaciation. A wayside along State Highway 21 includes a parking lot and seating area to view Ship Rock. It is a stunning example of the powerful forces at work during the ice age, and a beautiful formation to photograph.

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It is one of 23 rock formations in Adams County, Wisconsin, and is not too far away from the most famous formation, Roche-A-Cri Mound in Roche-A-Cri State Park.

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200 Year Old White Cedar

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I really felt far out there when I visited the Leelanau State Park.

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On the very tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, the historic Grand Traverse Lighthouse a beacon for many years to those entering the bay…

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…this is about as far from Chicago and the civilized world, about as far back in time, as its possible to journey on Lake Michigan.

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The light, mid transition summer to fall, was so dramatic…

grand traverse light kostick glass jewelry etta kostick leelanau peninsula arthur mullen seagrass lake michigan 3rdarm

…Etta and I stayed out along the shore for over an hour taking photographs…

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of the seagrass and stones as they slowly turned colors.

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Old Mission State Park, Part 2

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Old Mission and Leelanau are two of the most beautiful peninsulas in the United States. Together, they make up as much coastline as Cape Cod or Door County, and yet they fly much lower under the radar than either of those two destinations.

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When I first stopped in Traverse City, on our circle tour around Lake Michigan, we drove out to the Old Mission State Park to watch the sunset. This year, we spent a weekend just exploring both peninsulas. Again, we found ourselves out on the tip.

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It was a chilly September Sunday evening. The lake was at it highest level in several years. With the wind blowing, and green leaves turning yellow, and summer retreating, the historic Old Mission Lighthouse was oddly reassuring.

old mission state park swans feeding michigan peninsula 3rdarm

On the drive out of the state park to dinner, we pulled over and watched two swans. They were feeding in rough water, their white bodies bobbing up and down in the swells, with waves breaking over their backs. The water was warmer than the air.

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Horseshoe Island

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After the beach we cruised up the peninsula, with the intention of heading to the hotel before dinner. I had ice cream and Green Bay views on the brain, as would anybody showing Door County to their friend for the first time.

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We stopped at the Eagle Tower in Peninsula State Park. I give Meghan a lot of credit for crushing the climb to see Horseshoe Island, even though the tower was rocking in the wind. Afterwards, I ran into Wilson’s Ice Cream in downtown Ephraim for a scoop of peanut butter explosion.

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Carl Spackler

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The first stop was the beach. We weren’t alone: hundreds of riders were on their bikes for the Door County Century. After a brief stop to see the ancient sea caves along Lake Michigan, we went to the quieter Whitefish Dunes State Park.

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I went into the water, warmer than early in the summer, but a still numbing 60 degrees F. Meghan made Carl Spackler’s face out of sand.

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Death’s Grotto

door county wisconsin arthur mullen etta kostick meghan vanleuwen 3rdarm september

Etta and I made an overnight trip with our good friend Meghan to the Door peninsula. Meghan had never been to Door County, a situation I was in just a few years ago.

door county wisconsin arthur mullen etta kostick meghan vanleuwen 3rdarm september

It’s become one of my favorite escapes from Chicago.

door county wisconsin arthur mullen etta kostick meghan vanleuwen 3rdarm september

We woke up early Sunday morning for the drive. On the road, we listened to White Bird by It’s A Beautiful Day.

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