The following is the second 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.
Finding your way to the Hiawatha Hills nature preserve might be confusing, but it is well worth the search! As I drove there for the first time, I was curious why Google Maps brought me through a housing development en route to a nature preserve. When the app directed me down Cedar Ct, I was more than a little creeped out riding by myself down the overgrown cul de sac. Have faith and press on, parking along its circle drive, you’ll find Hiawatha Hills!
Something told me I’d need bug spray, and this trail runs through a few different streams and right up next to the Chippewa River, so spray was definitely a good call. I wouldn’t be surprised if those who come unprepared would be eaten alive by mosquitos! However, on the bright side, I saw more dragonflies during this hike than I have in years. I felt at one with the spirits of nature as they flitted around me en masse!
It was only within the first dozen steps of this hike that I also came across a whitetail doe. I was amazed to see how close she was, and she didn’t seem too scared of me either. In fact, she posed several minutes for photos before lazily walking away from me through the underbrush.
If I had to speculate about why this deer visited an area nearby so many homes, I’d guess she was drawn in by how lush the vegetative growth at Hiawatha Hills preserve is. Skunk cabbage out here grows as large as I have ever seen it, and there were dozens of different flowers I was able to see. The plant I was most excited to catch a glimpse of on this preserve was one I’ve been searching for a long time since I’ve been hiking: the broadleaf arrowhead! It’s also known as an Indian potato, and a close relative of Syngonium house plants which are very popular. I was thrilled to spot a few individuals and made sure to leave them exactly as they were!
Further on, I found myself surrounded by cedar trees, the namesake of the road Hiawatha Hills is located on. With their long, straight bark and growing structure, I’m always reminded of Tim Burton when I come across these giants in the wild. Even though this preserve is surrounded by homes, I was still able to get the feeling that I was deep in the woods. This preserve is awesome for new hikers or folks who aren’t into extremely long and bending trails! Even though I was able to see all this native flora and fauna, I only spent a half hour at Hiawatha Hills despite my many picture breaks. It’s a bite-sized chunk of some really densely-vegetated forest right near the safety of a neighborhood. That is, if you can get past its semi-creepy driveway. Ha ha!