Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hawthorn Glen Hiking, Wild Flowers, and Birds

Hawthorn Glen is a 23 acre park with mature tree growth near Wauwatosa. Known mostly as a neighborhood park and a nature center where Milwaukee Public Schools take field trips, Hawthorn Glen has a lot to offer in spring time.  The spring flowers are just starting to bloom, but the peak will likely be in about two more weeks.  This is also a birding spot.  I saw plenty of woodpeckers today.  There are well marked trails that tax the heart a bit because this is a multidimensional park, with access from above and below.  Do the entire circuit in about half an hour. Paths on the lower level are paved for strollers and wheelchairs.
A few wildflowers blooming

Read all the signs and learn more about the wildlife and park

One of the hiking trails through the woods

 At the top end of the park, you'll find a nice area with benches and a tic tac toe board. 
During summer when some playgrounds are too hot, you can come here and play in the shade on the climbing equipment or the tire swing. The nature center is open weekends or from 4-5 during the week.  Stop inside to see frogs, turtles and snakes.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

New Skateboard Park in Wauwatosa

It was opened late last fall at Hart Park in Wauwatosa, but this warmer weather has certainly welcomed new users to the world of skateboarding and trick biking locally.  If you're interested in how it came to be, check out the Tosa Skate webpage or their Facebook page, which has a few more photos of skateboarders in action.

There are several other places to skateboard outdoors in the Milwaukee area.  West Allis built a skate park in November 2014. For photos and more information about that, check the previous blog about it. Wouldn't it be great if we had a new skate park every November?  Well, one can dream. And here's a blog post about all the other skate parks we have.

Some trick riding

It had been a couple years since I was at Hart Park, and I was delighted to see they have completed the restrooms, added shade umbrellas (which will have the covers added soon), and expanded the all abilities playground.  There's also a sand pit if you bring your own shovels and pails. During summer this splash pad is a cool place to play, but I had complained in the past that it just got too hot with no shade.  There's been a major effort to plant trees at Hart Park, but of course, growing trees takes some time. There's good hiking and biking on the Oak Leaf Trail from this park too.

Place to crawl around with shade soon

New restrooms

An accessible  by ramp) play area 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Heart Pumping Hiking at Shorewood Nature Preserve

Sign at trail head 
There are plenty of steps you can climb in Milwaukee Parks, but there are few real hills.  The last time I wrote, I hiked at Doctor's Park to help break in both my winter body and some new hiking boots.  Today I went to Shorewood Nature Preserve. This is located on Lake Drive near Newton and can be difficult to find.  It's between Atwater Park and the water treatment plant, though due to private lands and a depleted shoreline, the only way to access it is from the spot where you find this sign. You'll find on-street parking only, and be sure to check the signs for allowed times and days of week.
Posted parking rules
This is an especially nice time to be there because of the blue carpet you'll find on the south side of the preserve.  Though it's a very small park, it has a big hill, that challenges me every time.  I often have to take a break on the way back up.  I know there are people who make this walk every day...and they look very fit.  The preserve is well maintained by volunteers.  You'll see a lot of downed trees currently.  I'm guessing some blew over in the high winds we've had, but others were cut due to the county wide effort to stop the ash borer. Susan Bence from WUWM did a piece on this you might want to review for more information. I talked to one of the county arborists and he said he's been very busy through the winter taking down trees at the county parks.  It will take years to replace those large beautiful trees.
I love this blue carpet of spring flowers
There aren't many trails and what's there will only take ten minutes to hike.  Go to the lake first by following the trail to the end.  If you veer to the right you'll find the flowers.  To the left, you can go as far a view of Atwater Park. In the middle there are benches, just in case you want to invite friends and have an audience.  My own son, Omar, likes to come here and sing his Michael Jackson tunes to an invisible audience.  The daffodils will soon be blooming, which are randomly planted throughout the wooded area.
Small outdoor seating area with daffodils
The beach was much larger a few years ago when Lake Michigan water levels were lower.  You can't even see the hundreds of rocks that were once visible. For comparison, go to this 2012 blog about the preserve. Now you  find driftwood and loads of broken trees along the beach. The shorebirds are there though.  You'll find gulls and ducks of many varieties. They used to perch on the exposed rocks.  This is a great place for spring birdwatching.  It won't be long and you'll see the yellow warblers filling the trees. Bring your binoculars and take a hike!