No, really! Come take a hike with me on the woodland trails here at Reeves-Reed Arboretum. Our lush Welcome Walk, colorful Historic Gardens, blossoming Daffodil Bowl, and tranquil, flowing fishpond are certainly the jewels of the Arboretum. But as with any jewel, its setting can be just as beautiful! Here at the Arboretum, our prized gardens are surrounded by over 6 acres of natural woodland habitat. There’s always something new and interesting to discover in the woods.
Before heading onto any trails, it’s important to learn how to read trail blazes – ours are colored diamonds attached to trees. The color tells you which trail you’re on, and the number of blazes and their positioning tell you which direction to go. This is especially helpful to know if there’s snow covering the trails. See the chart below:
We have over a mile of trails on our property – colored green, red, yellow, orange, and blue. In this picture, you can see that we’re on the red trail. One blaze means to continue straight, and you can see the next single red trail blaze on a smaller tree in the distance.
Each season in the woods has its own charm. Spring brings flowers; summer is lush and green; and who doesn’t love a crisp, colorful fall day? Some may think that leaves winter with nothing more than fallen leaves and dormant trees, but the woods in the winter can be just as beautiful as any other season!
There are so many exciting discoveries to be made in the winter. Observe the awe-inspiring movement of a blackbird murmuration as they descend into the trees. Look closely at old logs and branches for unique fungi. Pictured below: jelly roll fungus on a stick. It resembles (and feels like!) a clump of raisins.
Keep an eye out for other animals who aren’t asleep during the winter: deer, fox, rabbits. If you’re lucky and there’s a fresh coat of snow, you can try to identify and follow animal tracks to see what they were up to!
There are even a few flowers that will start to make their appearance in winter. I’m always amazed that something seemingly so delicate can push its way through the cold ground and sometimes even snow. These little rays of hope remind us that the freezing temperatures are only temporary. (Pictured below: winter aconite and snow drops.)
Let’s not forget, of course, our seasonal “Story Trail,” which spans part of the red trail. Stop by with your children to practice reading skills while taking a healthy hike in the woods! Our story trail currently features “When Winter Comes,” by Nancy Van Laan.
Finally, mid-winter also is the start of maple-sugaring season! We tap a few of our maple trees using old-fashioned methods and tools. At the end of the season, all of our hard work culminates with Maple Sugaring Fest on Sunday, March 6!
Wintertime in the woods has so much to look forward to. Make sure to take some time out of your busy start to the year, and take a hike!