Fall bloomers showing their colors at Scuppernong Prairie
A bit of fall color greeted us as 10 hikers walked the Whitewater Lake segment of the Ice Age Trail on Sept. 26. Two new hikers from Nebraska joined us.
The following day, 31 showed up for our walks, and the weather was perfect. Ellen Davis reported the following about the a short walk in the Scuppernong Prairie:
This beautiful fall day was just right for a hike on the prairie. Seventeen of us car-pooled to the dog trial grounds off Wisconsin Highway 59 to follow the Ice Age Trail eastward across the Scuppernong Prairie.
Our group today included one new hiker, two small grandchildren and three canines.
We paused at the stream to look at the minnows (could they be tiny trout?) and examine some bottle gentians -- past their prime, but still interesting.
We continued on up the hill and through the oaks marking the old field boundary.
There was visible evidence of the dry summer: two apple trees with no apples, normally damp areas dry and hard, edible berries already gone, small bushes dry and shriveled.
Fall colors were beginning to show -- sumacs turning red, hickories and maples turning yellow, the occasional oak or ash with a hint of scarlet.
The New England asters were a bit past their prime, but still cheerfully purple.
As we reached County Highway N, we stopped to admire the vista of the prairie we had just traversed. Five opted to return to the starting point for a 2.8-mile hike, but 12 chose to continue.
This trail section offered great variety: high prairie, a pine plantation, a bit of oak forest and boardwalks through wetlands.
We turned back at Wilton Road, retracing our path back to the parking lot for a total of 4.2 miles. It felt exactly right for a cool and breezy sunny fall day.
In the meantime, Norwin Watson and nine others hiked the Scuppernong Prairie from Wisconsin Highway 67 to Wisconsin Highway 59.
The report is that it was a great hike with enough fall colors to enjoy.
I took the additional hikers, including a couple who are section-hiking the Ice Age Trail, to the trail at Clover Valley Road to hike the Whitewater Lake segment back to our meeting point for a hike just under five miles.
Two of us who had time constraints turned back at the Whitewater Lake “Scenic View” and hiked the Rice Lake Nature Trail for a total of three miles.
There was enough fall color to be appreciated so hikers in the Kettle Moraine should see good fall colors, which will continually change for the next several weeks.
Happy trekking, Russ
-- Monthly meeting, Oct. 16, at 7 p.m., Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter, Ice Age Trail Alliance: Meet at U.S. Bank, Elkhorn. Speaker George Clokey of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Biology Department will talk about his wolf research Contact Carol Prchal, (262) 495-8502.
-- Weekly walks: The Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter of IATA meets at 4 p.m. Tuesdays and at 10:30 a.m. Wednesdays at the U.S. Highway 12 Ice Age National Scenic Trail crossing located about four miles east of Whitewater and about a quarter-mile east of the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and Sweno Road. The parking lot is at the west end of Sherwood Forest Road, a short road that intersects U.S. Highway 12. All ages are welcome. State park pass is required, which may be purchased at the site. Contact Russ Helwig, (262) 473-2187.