Spring has reared its flower crowned head here in Michigan and we Michiganders are crawling out from our dens and wiping the sleep of hibernation from our eyes. Sunday was beautiful and I was determined not to waste it indoors. I called up my favorite gal pal, geared up and headed out.
A short while later and we were at the Nature Center at Stoney Creek Metro Park. Now, those of you that live in SE Lower Michigan know that we have some of the best state and county run parks around and Stoney Creek is no exception to this. After an obligatory walk-through of the nature center we headed out onto the trails. We took the habitat trail that has plenty of ups and downs and skirts along many vernal ponds where the wood frogs were meeting up for their springtime frolics.
Right at the start we ran into this guy, a run of the mill garter/gardner/racer (whatever you want to call it) snake. He was a pretty good size and crossed the path with what looked like more than a few frogs in his belly!
We continued on down from the center and to the creek bank. The trail for the most part was dry with a few spots a little more water than mud. We began to move away from the creek and more into the surrounding woods climbing a good size rise. About mid way up the trail to the right was a little sign informing us to be aware of Michigans only poisonuos snake, the Massasauga Rattler. Now I’ve been stomping around the woods a long time, been to plenty of woodland lakes and ponds and I have only seen one of these creatures. Aggresive, feisty and endangered, for better or worse they are making a comeback in our state.
The rise lead to a drop and took us right up alongside a beautiful pond. It was alive with frogs and the air electric with their calls! The weeds and grasses provided shelter for them and was broken here and there by fallen trees. What a great view.
Moving down the trail, we circled the pond and the cacaphony continued, the frogs obivious to the loss of their human audiance. The terrain got a little rougher here with more ups and downs, rocks and other debris. We came to another pond just as lively as the first. Standing at its side and resting on my walking stick I could feel the life energy all around me…from the frogs in the water, the rodents and reptiles hunting the froggs and the almost perceptable pulsations of the trees as sap rose up their trunks and out to their branches nourishing the naked limbs that provided a canopy to the goings on below. It felt as if God was standing there, next to me, shooting a sideways glance my way and saying “pretty neat huh?”
Spring is also a great time to glimps the world of fungus! The forest takes care of itself in so many ways. Fallen trees are broken down into soil by insects and fungus and those effected logs are then further processed down by the critters going after said insects, ripping the rotting wood apart!
Life is abundant in the park and makes it self known in many ways…But sometimes you need to know where to look! There is a healthy deer population and there presence was evident by munched on mushrooms on trees and their prints in the soft dirt of the trail.We avoided slopping through the muddy spots so as not to ruin and prints or tracks. Just wish the other hikers would have done the same. On the edge of a clearing with a good porus treeline on three sides we spotted this!
Fox? Coyote? Don’t know, but it was still neat to see! We kept moving and came out on this breath taking view!
I stood there just waiting for a deer to walk out into the open! More hills and dips and we decended into an old riverbed. We were nearing the end of the trail which was a good thing because we were hungry!
Discussing our meal otions it was decided we would consult google for suggestions instead of fishing and foraging! It was that conslutation that lead us to the Washington Grill! Great food, great service and a wonderful atmosphere!
I opted for the “Porker” burger without a bun, its a 1/2lb angus patty topped with pulled pork, bbq sauce, bacon and cheese!! Delicious!!
Stoney Creek Metro Park is located at 26Mile Rd just west of Mound Rd. Day and annual passes are available. The Washington Grill is located on VanDyke Ave. just south of 30Mile Rd, on the east side. This was a day well spent and I cant wait to go back later this spring when the tress are leafed out!
For more information or to plan your trip, click the links below