Sunday, April 14, 2013

Hueston Woods State Park

Spring has sprung in Ohio.
Hueston Woods State Park is about 5 hours southeast of Kalamazoo in Oxford, Ohio.  Last week's rain had kept me indoors despite my eagerness to check our local wildflowers and I was going to out-of-town this weekend.  Yesterday, I was at Miami University of Ohio for an event and I had the afternoon free so I decided to visit Hueston Woods which was only five miles from the University.
Oxford is more than 100 miles south of Kalamazoo and the signs of Spring were visible in town with daffodils and magnolias in bloom, while Kalamazoo enjoyed crocuses and promise for the future.  The same was true in the woods.  As soon as I pulled into the parking lot for the Blue Heron trail  I saw thousands of flowering Spring Beauty, Dutchman's Breeches, and Toothwort.  Mayapple umbrellas were up and open.  The short trail to Acton Lake was through a mature maple beech forest and the wildflowers continued, with Toad Trillium being a highlight.  
The park offers several short hiking trails, a separate mountain bike trail system, horse trails, camping, a Nature Center, swimming, boating, and fishing, a lodge, a golf course, and a disc golf course.  (See the park map for details [pdf].) 

The park also allows fossil collection (for personal use) in two areas along Four Mile Creek.  The Ohio DNR provides a nice guide to the Ordovician fossils of the park [pdf].  I found a couple of nice brachiopods, a horn coral, and lots of mollusk shell fossils in just a few minutes.  (Dry Dredgers, a fossil enthusiast organization, reports on a field trip to Hueston Woods with lots of photos.)
While it was nice having a walk in the Spring woods while Kalamazoo had some end-of-season snow,  the park is a long drive from southwest Michigan.  If your travels take you to the area, I would certainly recommend it.
Hueston Woods State Park
College Corner, OH 45003

free admission

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