A lovely afternoon in May

wooded valley with spring wild flowers

by Ellen Alderinkmap of wildflower trip route

At the time of this writing,  Michigan is under a stay-at-home order due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Outdoor activities with proper social distancing are allowed so we took an afternoon out to explore. See our route on the map.
One of my favorite past-times is hiking combined with photographing wildflowers, especially in the spring. It’s a sunny May afternoon and warm enough to put the winter coat aside. I was ready to get outside. I noticed some of my favorite flowers starting to show up on friend’s facebook posts. The time was right for spring wild flowers. As we headed south our first stop was on the Hart-Montague bike trail, a little valley near the crossing of 66th (S Logging Road) and Buchanan Road. Trilliums were blooming, both the white and the purple ones. At that moment I grab my camera and time suddenly stands still—for me. I forget all my earthly cares and I’m in the zone. Soon I find Dutchmen’s Breeches, Spring Beauties and I see that Trout Lilies and Bloodroot will be blossoming in a few days (I’ll be back!). I spot still others plants I have yet to learn. There is so much plant diversity in just one little area. My camera and I are very busy. Next stop was the Genevieve Casey Nature Sanctuary . What a gem! Two well marked trails that together form a figure eight; one trail a mile long and the other a half mile. Originally the land was owned by Daniel Webster (former US Senator and Secretary of State). It was deeded to him by President Buchanan. Later it was owned by the Casey family and eventually sold by Genevieve Casey to the Michigan Nature Association (MNA). She donated a generous sum to offset the cost of purchasing the land and the sanctuary was named in her honor. Thirty acres adjacent to the land were added in 2011 for a total of 53.49 acres. The land supports several habitats including prairie and forest ecosystems. The blue trail encircles a marsh and exhibits a variety of moss and lichens. A beautiful stream, Bender Creek, flows through the the west side of the sanctuary. Boardwalks help one navigate the wetter areas. It was a little early yet to see flowers here but I could see the blooms are coming. I read in the MNA’s fact sheet that it was a good place to spot Lady’s Slippers. After shooting we stopped at Country Dairy for supper. A visitor can check out their market to buy Country Dairy’s own milk, cream, cheese and ice cream or sample their products at the cafe along with other menu items.  A one-and-a-half hour tour is offered that shows the working dairy, the milk processing facility and educates the visitor in Moo School about the history of Country Dairy and the dairy industry.* Take advantage of this if the timing is right. You don’t want to miss the cows and their calves! We ate dessert first, ice cream. I had Peanut ‘Udder Bliss (it truly was “bliss!”) and Bob had Hoof Prints ice cream. We also bought sandwiches and chocolate milk. Siri (my phone) guided us to a little a roadside park beside a stream with an old, partly washed out dam, called Marshville Dam Park. Perfect! A beautiful site for a picnic. Heading back home we meandered along the shore driving through Silver Lake (the town, not the through the water). We took pictures of the dunes with the sun shimmering on the water. We drove through Pentwater then around Bass Lake and made one last stop at the Ludington Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Plant. You can walk to the top of the reservoir and look out over Lake Michigan and clearly see the Ludington North Breakwater Light and Stearn’s Beach to the north. There is a sheltered educational display near the lookout describing the plant. As the sun set we headed back to Ludington. This was a great afternoon. Here’s a short slide show of the afternoon’s photos.

Plan your trip

If you’d like to plan your own side trip, here are some other fun spots along this route. *We recommend calling ahead to find out hours and when places are open. Some restrictions are in place due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Please be safe! Hart Montague Bike Trail 22 miles, paved rail trail.  trail map Bortells Fisheries (get a fish and chips basket and eat across the road at Summit Park overlooking Lake Michigan) Cherry Point Farm and Market ( farm produce, lunch, lavender labyrinth with an herb garden in the center, weekend fishboils) Fox Haus Winery Mac Dune Rides Little Sable Point Light House at Silver Lake in Mears Pentwater:shops, galleries and restaurants Google Map  of our route