"I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do. They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!"
The bluebird conditions on Monday afternoon gave way to a peaceful walk through West Olive's Hemlock Crossing County Park. This year-round gem is home to 239 acres of woods and wetlands along the Pigeon River and over six miles of trails connecting to the neighboring Pine Bend Park.
The landscape was as varied as it was stunning. One moment I was walking through towering pines, the next gnarly, old oaks with a white-tailed deer peaking shyly from around its thick trunk. The still-green woods dipped and climbed into elevations, crisscrossed with trickling streams starting from an invisible source. Eventually wetlands took over, with freckled frogs leaping across my path.
This park is speckled with scenic overlooks, offering multiple views, each as picturesque as the last. Other perks included the price – free! – and a beautiful nature center (which is, much to my dismay, closed on Mondays). I would like to go back and take advantage of the kayak launch. I really should just travel with my boat always strapped to the top of my car so that I'm ready for opportunities like these. The Pigeon River definitely invited a serene paddle, crystal clear waters covering the sandy bottom. Sigh, next time.
Check out this and other West Michigan parks in the upcoming weeks for a fall color hike. As I said, everything is still incredibly lush and green, but that changes fast. Many destinations are offering unique guided tours, including Swiss Valley Ski & Snowboard Area in Jones, the Otis Sanctuary in Hastings, and Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids. Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs even has horseback color tours. If walking among the trees isn't your cup of tea, WMTA.org has 26 driving tours that guarantee to put on a dazzling autumn show, viewed comfortably from the window of your car.