A walk in the woods

We went for a walk at Woodend Conservation Area this weekend.  We hadn’t been to this park before, so it was a nice surprise!  It is in Niagara on the Lake on the Niagara escarpment, with the Bruce Trail running through it.

It was a beautiful fall day, the woods smelled dry with a fungal tinge.  A lot of the leaves were already down, and they were at that stage where they are brown rather than colored.

gate in a stone wall at Woodend conservation area
We went through a gate in a stone wall to join a trail.
sun through fall leaves
The sun was illuminating the leaves high up in the hardwoods. The last of the delicate fall colors.
sun dappled woods
All around us the woods were sun dappled, and the dry leaves were underfoot!

When you are walking through the woods in the late fall the experience is about shadows, and textures and subtle scents.  It’s also about squirrels chasing each other around like crazy – just off the path where they are safe from you!

This portion of the trail (the Bruce trail) follows the edge of the Niagara escarpment so it has rocky cliffs jutting out over the lower woods.

shadows on ancient rock
Interesting shadows form on fallen rocks.

The trail descends very gently to the base of the escarpment (it’s not very high here) to a narrow wetland area between the park and Niagara College property.  It joins another trail, which leads to a small marsh-like area, the teaching vineyards and a retention pond.

trail signs on post
The markers for the trails.
withered grapes on the vine
A bunch of withered grapes on the vines in the Niagara College teaching vineyard.

 

plume of a tall grass
The marsh-like area was dominated by these tall, very tall, plume headed grasses.
reflections in the pond
The pond, it was sunny and still so the reflections were perfect!

We had no idea we were going to come across a pond.  It was a nice little one too!  They had put up bat houses, wood duck nesting boxes and a couple of platform nests for waterfowl like geese.  We saw mallards, a pintail, some buffleheads and a muskrat!

While we were walking along the embankment of the pond we saw a Red-tailed Hawk in the woods.  It didn’t want to settle on a perch while we were there, so we got to see it flying low through the woods.  It really was incredible to see such a big bird effortlessly tilt and maneuver through the trees in complete silence.

We couldn’t find the trail that was supposed to take us back to the parking lot.  So, we made our own trail through leaves and scree up the escarpment – and ended up basically were we started our walk!

late afternoon sunlight through the trees
Late afternoon sunlight through the trees back at the top of the escarpment, by the nature school at Woodend.

Hope you were able to get outside this weekend – to stretch you legs, smell the smells and be inspired!

Valerie

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