The Umstead Coalition 
Celebrating Umstead State Park since 1934!
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Fall Treasure Hike

11/07/2018 4:46 PM | Anonymous

- by Arianne Hemlein

It's early November and the flora and fauna of Umstead State Park are preparing for winter.  The rays of the rising sun warm the crisp autumn air, lifting tendrils of fog from the pond on Loblolly Trail.  Acorns and leaves rain to the ground along the shore.  As you enjoy the park this fall, look for signs of seasonal change.  It's a treasure hunt of sorts.

Of course, changes in leaf color are the most obvious and anticipated indication of the seasonal shift.  Take time to notice which tree types are first to color and and drop their foliage, and be aware of those that retain theirs well into winter. Beech and oak leaves are those you see still hanging on when the snow falls.  You might even have a contest to see who can find the most beautifully colored leaf or try to catch one as it falls - it's harder than it sounds.

Breath in the earthy scent of fallen leaves.

Notice all the tree nuts falling to the ground, thereby providing sustenance for deer, squirrels, and other woodland animals.  Watch the squirrels scrambling around to add to their winter stores and build nests.

If you hear honking, look up to see geese migrating south in wobbling "v"-shapes like arrow tips pointing in the direction of their winter homes.  While you are looking, observe the deeper blue of the autumn sky.

Suggestions for fall treasure hike activities for all ages:Fall walks are filled with treasure.  I make goal of discovering at least two interesting finds on each walk.  While searching like a nature detective, I tend to see and appreciate things I might otherwise overlook.  Interested in adding excitement to your next fall hike?  Try one of my suggestions below.  Click on these links to learn more about the seasonal leaf cycle and why the sky appears more blue in autumn.  Whatever you do, take time out to enjoy the seasonal beauty of your park before the real chill of winter sets in!

  • Pinecone Bird Feeders
Collect pinecones to make into bird feeders.  Simply attach a string to the pinecone, spread peanut butter or lard over the surface, roll in birdseed, and hang from a tree in your yard.
  • Leaf Print Cards
Gather fallen leaves to create leaf print cards.  Just paint a leaf while holding it by the stem, press it to cardstock, cover with newspaper and gently rub.  Remove paper to see your print.
  • Magic Wands
Search for smooth, bark-free sticks to use as "magic wands". Add glitter paint or wrap and tie bright ribbons to the end.
  • Nature Detective Scavenger Hunt
Make a list of things to look for on your walk such as hickory nuts (which can be floated like boats), squirrels, mushrooms, and star moss.

The Umstead Coalition

We are dedicated to preserving the natural integrity of William B. Umstead State Park and the Richland Creek Corridor.