- 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!
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