Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall Hikes

There is still plenty of color out there in the trees.  Why not go for a nice walk in the woods this weekend?  We were over at Brown Deer Park today and enjoyed the leaves underfoot, saw a deer, played on the playground, and then headed to the boathouse and bridge to take a look at the hundreds of geese.  Very pretty sight indeed!  I just love that old bridge in the photograph below.

So if you need a few tips on hiking, there's a great book of day hikes near Milwaukee, called Best Easy Day Hikes, which includes several of our parks.  Seven Bridges is in that book, over in Grant Park.  The nice thing about hiking at Seven Bridges is that you get the fall colors and the beach too.  I was there early last week and it was still quite green, but I'm thinking that by now, you'll see more color.  The ravine also didn't have a lot of water in it, but the hike is still pretty.  You can always do a loop if you feel ambitious- hike through Seven Bridges Trail to the beach, go right along the beach to the bathhouse and return via the Oak Leaf Trail back to the parking lot at Seven Bridges.  Grant Park has a pond near the golf course that you'd see on the way too.

Jacobus Park has a nature trail that is family friendly- under a mile long.  Hawthorn Glen is another place with a shorter trail that could be done with children.  Both of these places have playgrounds near the trail too.  Konkel Park in Greenfield has a nice nature trail with some bridges and marshland.  Fun for kids.

If you need to bring a stroller, pick any park along the Oak Leaf Trail.  You'll find plenty of paved trail through the parks.  The East Bank Trail starts at the new Rotary Arboretum and is less than a mile of paved trail also.

Why not choose a park with water features?  Lynden Sculpture Garden has a nice pond which was full of geese last weekend when we were there.  The grounds are well tended and there are many pieces of art everywhere you look.  There's a nice cottage garden that still had loads of blooms last week.  We had it all to ourselves.  Of course, there is a fee to enter.  Schlitz Audubon Center has hiking trails that lead down to the beach, and there's a fee to enter.

Kohl Park is another park with lots of trees and a pond if you choose the trail that goes to the right.  There are 2 choices from the fork, and you could easily do the entire park in about an hour.  

Wherever you go this weekend, I hope you enjoy the beauty of Fall!  Smell the leaves!  Look for wildlife!  Bring a camera and capture a few pics of your friends and family.

Grant Park Beach near Seven Bridges Trail

Lynden Sculpture Garden pond with geese
Brown Deer lagoon across from the boathouse

Brown Deer Park trees near playground- bury the kids and take a photo!

Be sure to look up too!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Milwaukee Zoo Best in Fall!

Fall at the Milwaukee County Zoo is my favorite time of year.  There seem to be more birds on the lagoon, more color to the trees, and more pep in the animals.  This is also a month full of Halloween activities.

Today and tomorrow, October 18-19 is the annual Boo at the Zoo from 6-9 pm.  The zoo will be full of jack-o-lanterns and spooky decorations.  There will be special features about bats.  See costumed characters like a pirate.  Eat caramel apples.  Ride the train.  It's all good fun.  Cost is $8 adults/$6 children, and parking is $7.

Next weekend is their trick or treating event called Halloween Spooktacular.  October 25, 6-9 pm, and October 26, 9-9.  It will have similar activities to the Boo at the Zoo, but will also include a costume parade, treats for kids, and even special Halloween treats for the animals.

Don't forget the Oceans of Fun adventure is still on during Fall.  It is pricy, but is the next best thing to a Sea World vacation.  Kids get to learn about the feeding and care of the sea lions, as well as learning the tricks from trainers about how to get the sea lions to perform.  They put on a show for the parents, which is magical.  There are a variety of programs for all ages.

Once you've paid admission, you'll still need some cash to make it a full fun outing.  For older kids, there's a new zip line or ropes course.  It will set you back $10/12.  Put some quarters in your pocket so you can feed the goats using the pellet machines near the petting zoo.  Quarters work in the foot massage machines placed around the zoo.  The carousel and train ride also require tickets.  You may want to check out the dairy barn which has some interactive displays, and an ice cream bar.  You can bring your own lunch or there are limited food stands open during the fall.
Lovely Fall colors

The bears are more perky in Fall

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Salmon Run on the River

Estabrook Park- view from the boardwalk below the Biergarten
This might be the best week this Fall to go to the river.  Fall color is at about 50%, and there's rain in the forecast for later next week, so the leaves may just fall after that.  The salmon are running upstream, so anywhere you can find a place to watch, you'll likely have a good show.  Look for guys in waders.  That should be a clue that there's some action to watch.

I stopped at Estabrook and Kletzsch Parks, and spoke with some fishermen.  Only a few salmon were caught while I was there, but you could see plenty of jumping (unsuccessfully I might add) at the waterfalls at Kletzsch.  In the 10 minutes I stood there watching, I probably saw 100 fish jump...or maybe just the same fish jumping a bunch of times.  Anyway, it's fun to watch and cheer them on.  From what I learned, this is the start of the salmon run, and it will become larger as the water cools.  It's also a great week for biking along the Oak Leaf trail that follows the river, as well as hiking the Milwaukee River Greenway.  You can start at Silver Spring and walk all the way to the Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park, if you feel ambitious.  Get out and enjoy the nice weather while we have it!
salmon on a line at Estabrook Park

Fish caught at Kletzsch

Look closely in the center and you'll see a fish jumping

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive

The Fall colors were beautiful in Wisconsin last year, and it looks like they may be good again this year, although maybe a week or two behind last year.  I did this drive the first week of October 2012. You can find the Kettle Moraine scenic drive on line along with the fall color report and put the two together to decide when to go.  Because we don't live very close to either end of the 115 mile drive, I decided to take the interstate to the northern point, near Elkhart Lake, and drive down through the forest as far as we could get before I had to go pick up my son from school.  I used my GPS to set my home address and that's a convenience I'm starting to love.  With every turn we made, it showed me exactly how long it would take me to get home so we could just enjoy the drive.  There were not so many cars on the road with us, but lots of motorcycles.  At every place we stopped it was mostly the same people you see all day.  If you do this scenic drive this weekend or next, expect more traffic and potentially peak color.

The first stop was Wade House.  You can print out written directions for the tour, but the roads are well marked with signs so you won't need them unless you get lost.  We stopped at Greenbush picnic area and had lunch.  There aren't a lot of places to buy food or water, so it's a good idea to bring your own along.  You will also need a sticker or day permit for using the state park.  You can buy them at the parks along the way in a self pay box.  You can hike the trails all through the park, and Greenbush has several that start there.  From there we drove to the Greenbush Kettle- a big hole left behind from a glacier.  The big challenge was climbing to the top of Parnell Tower.  Don't miss it if you enjoy views of the region.  There was a lengthy trail of steps to get to the tower and then of course you have to climb to the top.   I was huffing and puffing.  Of course there were senior citizens on the top that weren't breathing hard at all.  I met so many who were trying to visit every state park and did lots of hiking.  It's a wonderful way to enjoy your retirement!

Greenbush Picnic Area
Parnell Tower
hiking trail near Parnell Tower

Greenbush Kettle

view from the top

and another view from the top- Gorgeous carpet of color!
After the tower, there were several lakes (Butler, Long, and Mauthe) with nice views.  If you enjoy churches, there are some pretty country churches.  One was covered in vines that were turning purple.  We stopped at the General Store at Mauthe Lake for an ice cream.  They also had everything you might need for fishing and you could even rent canoes.  It wasn't too far past that point that we turned off and headed for home.  Great drive for anyone wanting to get out of the house and see something this fall!