The following is a guest post by 2022 intern Rye Schall. Rye is completing a Marketing internship with the CWC this summer. In addition to other duties, Rye has been visiting some of our preserves for the first time and writing about the experiences.
The Florence Maxwell Audubon Woods Preserve is a hidden gem, in my opinion. Located just over a mile of dirt road west of Winn Rd, if you’re searching for a sizable hike that feels like deep woods exploration, this preserve provides.
So far, Audubon woods has the largest and oldest trees I’ve been able to see at a nature preserve. I was mystified by the number of them! The understory of those is covered in flowering plants and ferns with forms I’d never seen living in town in Mt Pleasant. The plants I was able to recognize were also a much larger size in Audubon woods than I am accustomed to seeing them.
Now, that said, you do really have to work for this hike. Unlike parks nearer to town, Audubon woods has large rolling hills that are quite easy to make it over on your way down – but a little bit of a workout on the way back. For those who aren’t afraid to take a substantial hike, this preserve has much more eye candy in my opinion.
Shaped like a large loop, the Audubon trail is fairly straight until you reach the Chippewa River. I was shocked at the number of flowers (especially skunk cabbage) I noticed as the bank neared. Laying across the trail was also the largest Aspen I have ever seen.
By the time I rounded the curve to loop back toward my car, I felt like I’d already seen loads of wilderness. Certainly more than enough to make up a nice trail. So, imagine my surprise when twists and turns around even more giant trees eventually yielded to a bridge over a flowing natural spring!
Sitting a moment at the bench nearby, I was able to pause and listen to it babble under the shade of a truly massive fir tree. There was no sound otherwise, just the majesty of being in nature. With white trillium blossoms nodding in the breeze all around and me and being the only person at the whole preserve, I was able to meditate for awhile in absolute peace.
I’d say you must visit the Florence Maxwell Audubon woods the next time you choose where you’ll hike; but in all honesty, I’m content to keep it to myself!!