Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Butterfly Hikes


This is beautiful weather to get outdoors, and it's still light enough you can do it after work.  So...no excuses!  I hope you'll enjoy some of this lovely Indian Summer weather we're having.  I've written previously about Fall Hikes in Milwaukee and there are a few on that list that will be really lovely once the leaves start to change.

In the meantime, I wanted to focus on late summer flowers.  The asters, thistles, and black-eyed susans are in bloom and a variety of wildflowers are full of butterflies and bees.  If you're a macro-camera buff, this is the ideal time for all kinds of beautiful bug photos.
Bees like all the blooming flowers now, including thistle

Pretty aster are plentiful
I liked Kevin Revolinski's first book, Best Easy Day Hikes Milwaukee.  In fact, it was the book that got me into the Milwaukee parks to begin with.  I didn't grow up here in Milwaukee so I needed some help finding great spaces in the outdoors.  Now he has a new book that includes a few of our brand new parks, Best Hikes Near Milwaukee.
I got it out the other day and did the hike through the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum. A lot has changed since it was first started.  Everything is growing and in bloom now where there used to be just dirt.  What a fabulous addition to our parks.  This is adjacent to the Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park.  You can bike there using the Oak Leaf Trail.  If you do that, take a short detour at Cambridge Woods neighborhood for a few blocks and go see the Boat House (3138 N. Cambridge), something that is pretty unique. You will eventually need to park the bike and walk down to the river as the river trail is not bike friendly.  His hike takes you on the East Bank Trail along the river, then you cross on a new pedestrian bridge just past North Avenue and pick up the Beerline Trail.  The book includes photos, written descriptions, and maps of the 40 hikes.


Have you ever seen a real boat being used for a house?

If you want more suggestions for hikes, look for Ice Age hikes at Every Trail website and a list from Wisconsin Trails of 6 fall hikes within 60 miles of Milwaukee which includes many of my favorites.    For hikes in the county parks, check the Park People website. There are a few butterfly gardens in Lake Park, though they were created with storm water in mind and are called rain gardens. You can read more about them at this link. You'll find a large number of bugs here if you are patient.  Any of the parks with meadows will be likely candidates for bugs and butterflies.
Havenwoods Prairie restoration
Havenwoods State Forest has prairies with huge plantings of milkweed and a field of black eyed susans.  You can even hike there with a dog on some of the trails.  Here's the map so you can check out the miles of trails.  Kids will love taking Smokey for a hike.  You can have a lot of fun with this on instagram, snapchat, etc. Don't miss their Harvest Fest Saturday September 26, where you can take guided hikes with a naturalist, try archery, do nature crafts and listen to music.
Whitefish Bay Butterfly Garden

There is a beautiful butterfly garden, complete with signage at Whitefish Bay's Cahill Park (Marlborough & Chateau).  This garden is tended with loving care by the local garden club.

Don't forget a stroll through Lakeshore State Park with its beautiful rain gardens.  Such a picturesque spot on the lake is great for photos.
The city view from Lakeshore State Park
Every day is a great day to stroll through Boerner Botanical Gardens too.  Now you'll find a variety of fall flowers.  Be sure to check out the trial gardens if you have time. They normally have a few garden walks through October, but I'm not seeing any on the calendar at this time.
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