It's hard to believe it's been 3.5 years since The Park Next Door went live. I was gathering photos long before that time, but the leap to the world wide web was an exciting event for me. Over the past few years we have traveled countless miles, on the road, and on foot. Averaging 2-3 hikes per week, often more. I'm always on the lookout for bits of nature I haven't seen before. Semi-secret spaces hidden within local surroundings. And I am still, after all this time, amazed at the beauty that surrounds us here in Wisconsin. I love returning to these spaces in each different season, to see how they change and evolve. Quiet and cold. Bloom and fade. Sunny and gray.
This week we crossed the 100 location/listing mark. In fact, we're now past 100! Over 100 places to commune with nature. Parks and preserves, botanical gardens, sculpture gardens, neighborhood parks, beautiful cemeteries, and animal sanctuaries. Adventure goes local, Wisconsin! I'd like to give a shout out of thanks to our readers, and to those of you who share with us your favorite nature spaces. Many of these have become favorite hikes.
There are many new places to explore on our ever-growing list. But today I'd like to share with you some of our absolute favorites so far. Go ahead, put them on your list.
Washington Park in Autumn
Washington Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who designed and supervised the creation of New York City's Central Park. Maybe it's the fact that I learned that prior to visiting the park, or maybe it just has that Central Park vibe. Last fall it definitely had that Central Park in Autumn feel. There's a kind of urban romance to it. I've been to Central Park once, but it wasn't in the fall. So, for now, Washington Park will have to do. And that's fine by me.
Stigler Nature Preserve in Winter
Stigler Preserve is located smack dab in the middle of a New Berlin industrial park. But it's a great, and nearby, escape from city hustle and bustle. In winter the trails are easy to follow, and a surprising number of American Robins over-winter here. If you're looking for an easy winter walk in nature, Stigler is a great fit.
Scuppernong Springs in Spring
Scuppernong Springs is one of my favorite hikes in the Southern Kettle Moraine. There are plenty of hills with expansive views of the landscape, lots of birds, and in the spring, when everything is waking up, it's just brilliant. Sunset views along the trail here are magnificent.
Wadewitz Nature Camp in Summer
While Wadewitz Nature Camp is beautiful all-year long, summer brings a vibrancy that's hard to beat. There are well plotted trails that traverse through woodlands and prairie, and the birding is terrific. In fact, that's the initial reason we first made the trek. I took one of my all-time favorite bird photos here - a gorgeous Cedar Waxwing. Since that day we've been back several times, in every season. It has yet to disappoint.
A traveler, singer, novice photographer, and nature lover. I've been keeping closer to home these days, and truly discovering the beauty that lies in The Park Next Door.