I spent a morning on the nature trail to take in the
splendor of late fall. Though the colors are somewhat
muted, there were some striking exceptions. But most
of all, the trail was in fine shape, and I invite you to
take a fall stroll through the leaves yourself.
Perhaps even during Thanksgiving week, to get
reacquainted with your dear old trail or to introduce
it to your children. Here's a walk-through.
|This view from the ballfield shows the grandeur of some of|
the largest trees of the trail.
|These two, giant White Oak and Blackgum, may be|
two of the oldest trees in this section of the woods.
|I always have to do an update on Old Man Poplar. I would say|
he's still "standing" but it's more like "reclining" these days.
Fascinating to monitor his slow descent to ground level.
|This is a zoom shot of the tree in the background|
on the previous picture.
|Andy Paris's Eagle Scout project is doing exactly what he proposed.|
The bridge and channel allow storm water to be diverted harmlessly
down a slope below the nature trail. Before, wild waters ravaged
the trail itself, necessitating frequent maintenance.
|This Sugar Maple is the Queen of the Trail at this point.|
|The hickories add to the variety of nature's palette.|
|Sugar Maple, with a Hickory at bottom|
|On the ground there is evidence of nearby Sweetgum (star-shaped),|
Poplar, and Maple specimens.
|Here are several Netted-Chain Ferns. What is NOT apparent is|
that the abundant Lady Ferns that were here several weeks ago
have totally disintegrated. Not a shred of evidence remains from
their delicate fronds. This always surprises me.
|This is the largest Sweetgum tree I've seen on the trail, amply|
watered by the stream over the years.
|I love the way the fallen leaves decorate the stream.|
|Big Rock doesn't seem to mind the leaning tree overhead. It's still|
living, but its future is in question. Something else to keep an eye on.
|Notice the blue sky reflected in the stream around Big Rock.|
Big Rock is inviting, but I warn you: it's a SLIPPERY rascal!
|This White Oak is rather colorful.|
|Same White Oak|
|Closeup of White Oak leaves for identification.|
|The Red Maple is living up to its name.|
|A panorama from mid-trail.|
|I'm standing under Old Man Poplar. See how it has grown to fit|
the contour of its neighbor, an oak.
|Evidence that Old Man Poplar is fighting to survive. |
There are several tiny sprouts of leaves. They have been fooled into
thinking it's Spring!
|A different White Oak.|
|Same tree, different view.|
|Notice all the greenery in this otherwise colorful Maple.|
|The greenery is none other than Smilax or Catbrier, which grows|
throughout the trail, including the treetops.
|Smilax is a thorny, aggressive sort of vine. But it has a|
special place in the ecology of the trail.
|See the cluster of dark berries a few feet above the ground?|
Unlike most berries, these are present year-round as a source
of food for birds and other living things. Pretty amazing!
From the parking lot above the trail I took three
final pictures, each with significance.
|In this final panorama we see many healthy trees.|
AND the perilous incline of Old Man Poplar to the left.
I hope you love the nature trail as much as I do.
It's here for you, and I hope that will be true for
many decades to come. It's a quiet refuge and
an inviting place to stroll and take solace in nature.