Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Ozaukee Stairs/Hikes

Nearby to our north is Ozaukee County which has several wonderful natural areas.  I visited two of them this week in an effort to do some stair climbing.  It is not only beautiful, but gives you a great workout.
At the bottom of the stairs is a sandy beach- Lion's Den Gorge

The first place was Concordia University.  On their bluff is a winding path that leads to the lakefront trail, as well as a steep set of stairs.  This is a busy place whenever I've visited, no matter the time of year or day of week.  If you're not affiliated with the University, you'll need to check in with the gate guard to get a parking pass. There's no cost for using the facilities.
Something like 200 stairs

Or take the winding path

Once you're at the bottom of the bluff, you can choose to go back up the same way you came down, or walk a bit north to another quite steep path that takes you to the top.  This path does not connect with the other area, except over a lawn.  The entire bluff is a birding site and is planted with wildflowers, so you may see something of interest.  There were swarms of dragonflies while I was there.  Because the bluff is exposed, you will feel the weather.  The sun was beating down during my climb, so I opted to visit another park after a couple times up and down.

About 15 minutes north of this spot is a bluff park- Lion's Den Gorge Nature Preserve.  This area is quite shaded, but you still have incredible views of the lake.  Go deep enough along the trails and you can take wooden stairs to the bottom of the bluff, crossing the gorge and landing on a sandy beach.  There are numerous trails, but all of them loop back to the parking lot, so don't be afraid to explore.  There are a few which are stroller/wheelchair friendly- they are crushed limestone or boardwalks, while the other trails are wood chips. This is also a place where dogs on leashes are quite welcome.  September is a beautiful time to visit because of all the late summer wild flowers in bloom, but it will be even better as fall comes due to the large number of trees. Parking is available in two lots, with a couple portapotties in the second. Part of this area was once an apple orchard so you will see apple trees filled with fruit now.  You'd have to venture into some tall grass to get an apple though.

Large trees and boardwalks offer shade and easy stroller use

Stairs to the beach 
How do you like them apples?

There is a water feature, but the walkway near it just provides a small viewing point of some very green water. I saw a couple of slimy turtles, but no birds.  With binoculars, you might have more luck.  This is a US Fish & Wildlife waterfowl production area. Bring a snack and sit for awhile on one of the many benches or picnic tables along the trails. Enjoy the views.  I think you'll like it here.
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