Monday, September 14, 2009

beaches & waterfalls.

Another week, another State Park! We have our favorite places to hike, but decided that this fall & winter we are going to explore parks we haven't been to before. My boys don't like long car rides so we usually stay fairly close to home - but there are many new places to explore within an hour or so of us, so we are on a mission!

A few days ago we visited a popular park - but since it is mid-September we had the whole place practically to ourselves. We started at the beach...while September is usually pretty cool, we have been having hot dry weather all month which is perfect for playing in the lakes. The boys both love digging and splashing - they play for hours!

After heating up at the beach, we cleaned up and headed into the forest. We heard about a cool trail leading to a waterfall. The boys were VERRRRRRY excited to see it. As we hiked down steep stone steps the temperatures dropped...suddenly we were in a moss covered wonderland full of rushing waters, a big cave, and pools of crystal clear water.

The massive rock is split, so some of the water falls in front, and some behind, leaving a little nook behind the waterfall. We stayed there a very long time - both A & G were really interested in exploring all of the interesting rocks and caves and landscape. Such a cool place.

From there we hiked a beautiful trail called the Lost Canyon. The whole trail followed along the creek from the waterfall, weaving through massive rock crevices. We saw birds, frogs, tadpoles, water insects, and animal tracks.

Even though it has been hot it is mid-September so the leaves have already started changing and falling. As we hiked the trail went from mossy dark mysterious woods to a glowing golden wonderland of falling leaves and bubbling brook. A said he wanted to build a little cottage and live right there in the woods by the creek. I think that sounds like a great idea.

We love getting outside together - to play at a lake, hike, wander and just look for things. We also love exploring the different programs offered by our State Parks. One is a free "Wisconsin Explorers" program for kids - we picked up booklets at the ranger station and as we visit a few parks the boys can work on the projects in the booklet - once completed, we just mail it in and they receive a patch (they have been really into collecting patches lately)! Many parks also offer ParkPacks - backpacks for families to check out which are filled with interesting items to explore the trails and lakes and learn more about relevant topics such as water, forests, and prairie. Most states have programs with the State Parks Systems, so even if you are not from Wisconsin, check out your state DNR website to see what they have.

While summer is a popular time for camping and getting out to parks, we really love fall and winter. Cooler temperatures, no crowds, and gorgeous changing scenery excite us - and we love spending all of those hours as a family outside together exploring. I can't wait for the temperature to drop and see what the next season brings.


Boy Crazy said...

I know that park! ;) This has been a favorite camping spot to take our boys for the last few years. And you are right -- if you can hit it mid-week or in the spring or fall, you really do get the place to yourselves. Great photos-- I have some similar shots myself but with little blond boys in them instead. :)

Looks like you all had a great time. So fun!

Sam said...

My kids don't love long car rides either. Love how much time you spend outside with your sons. We strive to be outdoors as much as possible. Keeps everyone balanced and happy.

Sarah said...

I love the idea of heading out to the State Parks. We've hardly explored any of Vermont's.

Joy said...

What a fun park to visit! That rock is just massive. I'm sure your boys had a great time exploring there.

Astrid said...

We love Governor Dodge SP!

I haven't heard about the ParkPacks program. I can't wait to check that out. Is it geared towards older children?

Anonymous said...

wow! what an amazing place. have fun exploring. and keep posting the photos please!

Zachary and Jennifer said...

Great pick. The husband and I have been on a park kick lately and that one looks gorgeous. Might have to get to that one this fall.


Stephanie said...

Yay! You have your parks again! :)
I know you've been waiting!

Bug's mom said...

We may have to put this on our list of things to do...beautiful!