Pike Lake has always been one of my "go to" places to explore the outdoors, not only because of it's relative close location, but because of its variety. On the 4th of July, my wife, daughter, and I climbed the Powder Hill tower to take in some of the fireworks form around the area. Absolutely gorgeous! However, driving in to the lot that night, I noticed the park and all of its trails were open until 11pm. Night hiking was never really something I had considered as I usually hike with my daughter in the morning hours and the wee hours of the morning if I am doing a longer trek. However, that night I was beginning t understand the reasoning my wife bought snazzy headlamps a few years back.
Tonight, we busted out those head lamps and headed back to Pike Lake. We explored a variety of the trails this wonderful state forest has to offer. After venturing off of the Ice Age Trail, we found ourselves on the Astronomy Trail, a very unique trail I encountered last summer on a trail run. Basically, this trail is very much like any other trail except that it is marked by placards along the path that provide information about the solar system. One very cool tidbit about it is that the different planet information posts are spread out as they are in outer space. As you start the trial, Mercury, Venus,. earth, and Mars are practically right next to each other. However, once you pass Neptune, you feel as if they must have taken the Pluto sigh away since astronomers now designate it as a dwarf planet. However, it shows up sooner than later.
After our tour of the universe, we took one of the park's trails until we came across a sign for the Black Forest Nature Trail. This was a trial that went through a mesic forest, once quite common to Wisconsin. Want to know what that means? You'll have to come check it out as there are information posts throughout this quaint and unique trail. Though light was fading, my wife and I noticed some very exquisite trees, a variety of ferns, and a plentiful amount of fireflies. We also heard the screams of what sounded like a hawk and felt the sting of Wisconsin's friendly mosquitoes. Having bug spray seem almost ineffective and having our baby girl with us, we cut this hike a bit shorter than we would have liked and found the nearest yellow blaze, hopped back on the Ice Age Trail and hiked back to the car.
I look forward to checking out more of this specific Black Forest Nature Trail along with many of the other surprises Pike Lake has to offer in future visits. I encourage you to do the same.