2020 Nature Field Trips
Saturday, May 16: Nature’s Salad Bar: The Hardwood Forest from 10:00 a.m. until approximately 2:00 p.m.
Join other inquisitive people as we wander thru a lovely mesic hardwood forest filled with wildflowers. A mesic forest consists of trees like sugar maple and basswood that like medium soil moisture conditions. Over time the soils there develop into rich black loams, as the trees pump nutrients to the soil surface via their fallen leaves and this in turn favors tender delicious spring greens. We shall identify and taste a number of these edibles (and identify the ones that aren’t) and collect enough of them to stuff an omelet. By then everyone should have an appetite, so we’ll travel back to the college kitchen and prepare scrumptious omelets for lunch. Everyone should have a great time and no one will leave hungry.
Wednesday, May 27: Morgan Falls & St. Peter’s Dome from 10:00 a.m. to approximately 5:30 p.m.
Seventy foot-tall Morgan Falls is possibly the prettiest, most magical waterfall in Wisconsin. It lies in the heart of the Penokee Range, the roots of an ancient mountain range that was once as lofty as the Himalayas. The trail to Morgan Falls is 1.2 mile long round-trip and is wheelchair-accessible. Those who so desire will hike up to St. Peter’s Dome, a rugged 3.6 mile round-trip. Flip-flops or high heels are NOT recommended! With an elevation of around 1600 foot, on a clear day one can view Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay and the Apostle Islands and see ravens flying below us from the overlook.
Morgan Falls and St. Peter’s Dome are part of a State Natural Area. The hemlock/hardwood (northern mesic) forest is unfragmented, which nowadays is a rarity. It provides the necessary conditions for deep woods songbirds along with rare species of ferns and other plants. Dutchman’s-breeches and other abundant spring wildflowers provide a colorful and interesting display in the rocky, Appalachian-like scenery.
Wednesday, June 10: Pipestone Creek/Black Bear from 10:00 a.m. until approximately 3:00 p.m.
Nestled in a rich mesic forest the heart of the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation, this small waterfall and scenic red quartzite canyon has remarkable cultural and natural history significance. Pipestone deposits occurring within the hard quartzite have been mined for centuries by various tribes inhabiting the region. Geologically, being atop one of the northernmost of the Blue Hills, the canyon tells the story of a lofty mountain range eroding away in ages gone by and of the first appearance of breathable amounts of oxygen in the atmosphere.
It is a brief hike to the falls. However, in places the ground is uneven due to the angular quartzite talus. Wearing flip-flops or heels is not recommended.
Along the way we will also visit the huge gabbro boulders at Black Bear. These are also notable, both culturally and scientifically. They help tell the story of a continent being torn asunder almost a billion years after the rock at Pipestone Creek had begun to form.
Wednesday, June 27: Lost Creek Falls from 10:00 a.m. until approximately 6:30 p.m.
Located just south of Cornucopia, this waterfall is unusual in that one can walk behind it! It drops fifteen feet with and eight foot plunge over a sandstone ledge. The sandstone bedrock originated as river deposits flowing into the rift lake which formed the original Lake Superior. In previous years we did a 1.5 mile hike on an ATV trail to reach the beautiful sandstone glen, but this year we will utilize a newly constructed hiking trail. In season, thimbleberries and other berries can be harvested on the way to the falls.
Saturday, July 11: Little Girl’s Point, MI from 10:00 a.m. until approximately 5:30 p.m.
This scenic beach, just across the Michigan border, is popular with agate collectors. It has the greatest diversity of colorful rocks and gemstones anywhere within Lake Superior. The ravines behind the beach shelter deep, old-growth hemlock forest with orchids and other Pacific Northwest plant species. These are found in the East only near Lake Superior. Little Girl’s Point was a traditional Ojibwe canoe stopover along the way to the Porcupine Mountains and, legend has it, was the site of a battle between two tribes. Water shoes and a small bucket or fanny pack are suggested items to bring along.
Saturday, July 22: Amnicon Falls/Wisconsin Point from 10:00 a.m. unil approximately 5:00 p.m.
Several cedar-draped waterfalls together with the main falls make this park one of the most beautiful in the state. The geological features at Amnicon Falls are not only outstanding, but easily visible and accessible. They include a rare close-up look at a reverse fault and also tiny garnet gemstones scattered within a boulder carried down by an ice sheet from Canada. Biological notables include eight-inch tall wintergreen plants (truly gigantic!) and large, rare, emerald-green lichens carpeting the sandstone by the falls.
Wisconsin Point, a park belonging to the City of Superior, is the largest inland sandbar in the nation. It was and continues to be formed by currents in Lake Superior acting upon sediments carried by the St. Louis and Nemadji Rivers, whose waters exit into the open lake through a channel between it and Minnesota Point. This channel is also important to shipping. Thus a lighthouse, supported by masses of quarried crystalline gabbro boulders, sits at its mouth. Wisconsin Point is botanically significant as being the sole location for beach heather in the western part of Lake Superior.
Wednesday, August 15: Brule/ St. Croix Boardwalk- More information to come.
Saturday, September 12: Hawk Ridge, Duluth, MN from 10:00 a.m. until approximately 5:30 p.m.
If birds of prey fascinate you, then you and your binoculars will want to join us at Hawk Ridge by Duluth as we observe these remarkable birds during the best time of day at the very peak of their migration. Most raptors prefer not to cross large bodies of water, so they get funneled around Lake Superior at this point. Twenty species of raptors and vultures occur there, including the rare peregrine falcon and gyrfalcon. Some nest as far north as the arctic and winter as far as South America. A naturalist will be on site to help answer questions.
Saturday, September 26: Blue Hills Felsenmeer from 9:00 a.m. until approximately 5:00 p.m.
Hiking the Blue Hills Felsenmeer, a State Scientific & Natural Area, is the closest thing to being in the alpine zone! Cold air emanates from the pink quartzite talus all summer long, sustaining a lichen & moss community normally found much farther north. We will hike down what is locally known as the "box canyon", a magical fern-enveloped cleft and come back up the base of the felsenmeer, which means "sea of rock". Every member of the family able to hike on uneven ground will enjoy the incredible scenery, interesting plant life, and geological features of this special place.
Saturday, October 3: Juniper Bluff from 10:00 a.m. until approximately 5:30 p.m.
A high overlook along the Marengo River, this rock outcrop resembles an open mountaintop. The view of the river canyon and its cliffs from there is spectacular. The canyon is what is known as a “water gap”, a canyon carved by a river during the Precambrian, then as sea levels rose covered by sediments which turned into sedimentary rock, and only relatively recently exhumed by erosion. Wild juniper bushes, rock ferns, and wildflowers are abundant on the overlook.
We will hike to the overlook through wildflower-rich mesic hardwood forest on the North Country Trail. This section is part of the Marengo Semi-primitive, Non-motorized Area. The hike to the overlook is 1.2 miles round-trip through hilly terrain.
Fossils are generally rare in northern Wisconsin, due to the great age of the rock here. So before we arrive at the trailhead, we will make a brief stop at a gigantic boulder known as a stromatolite, which consists of an ancient fossilized blue-green algae reef. It is the largest fossil from northern Wisconsin that you will ever see!
Saturday, October 17: Morgan Falls & St. Peter’s Dome from 10:00 a.m. until approximately 5:30 p.m.
Seventy foot-tall Morgan Falls is possibly the prettiest, most magical waterfall in Wisconsin. It lies in the heart of the Penokee Range, the roots of an ancient mountain range that was once as lofty as the Himalayas. The trail to Morgan Falls is 1.2 mile long round-trip. Those who desire will hike up to St. Peter’s Dome, a rugged 3.6 mile round-trip. With an elevation of around 1600 foot, on a clear day one can view Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay and the Apostle Islands and see ravens flying below us from the overlook. The palette of autumn colors should be spectacular.
Morgan Falls and St. Peter’s Dome are part of a State Natural Area. The hemlock/hardwood (northern mesic) forest is unfragmented, which nowadays is a rarity. It provides the necessary conditions for deep woods songbirds along with rare species of ferns and other plants. The rocky, Appalachian-like scenery will make for a sublime autumn hike.
Register | Contact Amber Marlow, Dean of Continuing Education at firstname.lastname@example.org or 715-634-4790 x121.
Field Trip Details
Meet at the main entrance of Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College's Hayward Campus.
Transportation and lunch are provided by Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College's Extension Department.