Today I felt lucky! Today I not only was able to time my walk in the sunniest part of the day prior to the heavy downpour of rain, but I also got to experience a bit of “Haven on earth” at Havenwoods State Forest.

Havenwoods State Forest is a 237-acre (960,000 m2) property managed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources within the city limits of Milwaukee. The forest was created to provide an urban green space and environmental education center. The land includes grasslands, woods, wetlands, Lincoln Creek, an urban arboretum, and education gardens. The Environmental Awareness Center includes an auditorium, classrooms, displays, and a resource center.

Please allow me to remind you of my disclaimer: I am in no way, shape or form someone to be considered “experienced or knowledgable” in the area of outdoors or hiking trails. This blog is not designed to compare, contrast or criticize but rather just appreciate the atmosphere and give a tiny glimpse into the inner workings of my mind during the discovery period of both mind and surroundings.

The forest claims to have about 6 miles of walking paths within the property. It was difficult for me to determine if that estimate was correct due to the fact that the trails weren’t marked or calculated for mileage. I would estimate I walked about 3 miles, regrettably below my desired goal, but I got it in before the storms!  I guess the best way to describe the trail system is many trails that inter-connect in many locations. I doubt one could get lost, but without a little sense of direction and maybe a map, once could become confused by both the map and trail markings. Enough of the negative! This in no way discouraged my choice to come here and I’m happy the storm clouds didn’t turn me away! Let’s enjoy the journey!

IMG_1915Here is a glimpse of the trail starting out. The path is level, with ground limestone as a paver. It appears as though the trail leading in the largest circumference around the grounds was this type of terrain all the way through, but this also seemed to be the longest trail, as viewed on the map. The shorter-connecting trails were grass-mowed but very negotiable. There were only two places I encountered muddy pathways.

Close to the main entrance, a little down the path was a “secret garden” of sorts, as a small pathway lead to a children’s playground with sandbox. Nothing special, but nicely hidden and full shaded by 2 grand trees!

Being here on a Sunday of a holiday weekend, I was blessed to have the entire park to myself, only seeing 1 person pull in as I was pulling out of the parking lot. So, between the solitude and the wide open spaces of grass, flowers, brush and pond, I nearly felt like a settler in a new land, which I must say, that has been a dream of mine for a while!

Somehow I get hooked on books and shows or movies about the wild Frontier that America was! There is just something about the adventuresome spirit moving forward into the vast unknown. Places no one had been before, or at least not heavily trodden, except for the creatures. So today’s thoughts rocked back and forth between the fortitude and the spirit of the settlers (knowing full well that there were hardships and danger in their paths) coupled with the oxymoron that there is serenity within the wilderness, as wild as it can be! It was a day of fully pondering and taking in everything but coming to no conclusions or decisions. A day and place to just “Be”.  The birds and their songs. The Bullfrogs (no doubt in mating season) due to their full chorus. Life below the ground cover seemed to scamper and scurry around me with critters to quick for my sight. Dragonflies sitting on cattails. I was laid on this dock,  I soaked up the sun and HEARD the life around me, FELT it team with excitement of the day.

It was a day that all seemed right and good in creation. A place and time for escape, and it felt good!