The weather decided to cooperate with us on Sunday, so we were able to hike at Shade’s Beach. This is a great place to go throughout the year since there are so many cool places to explore. It has one of the best playgrounds in the area. Lots of different slides, and the high part is completely enclosed, so it’s safe for all ages.
In the summer, we’ll usually hike the creek that empties into Lake Erie, but getting that close to the lake this time of year is subjecting ourselves to some cold winds. So, instead, we hiked the trail along the bluff and into the forest you see behind the playground. We had some new friends join us this time, so there was quite a pack of kids running around through the woods.
The trailhead can be tricky to find if you’ve never hiked it, since it isn’t labelled. There’s a giant concrete cylinder at the start of the trail that heads right up the bluff that will let you know you’re in the right spot. I have no idea what it’s from, but the kids enjoy climbing on it.
You walk along the edge of the bluff for a while (which totally freaked out one of the adults on the trip – the kids were all about the excitement), and then you can head back down the bluff and toward some wetlands within the park. Unfortunately, the trail is not a loop, so keep in mind that you’ll have to walk back the distance you walk in.
What we learned on our hike:
How to spot spring wildflowers. There were trout lilies, red trillium, spring beauty, and something else. We also saw lots of mayapples starting to grow.
Not to walk too close to the edge since the bluffs are primarily made of sand, and are eroding and undercut at many places. I actually stopped at the top and had a little safety talk with all the kids before we started along the edge. Everyone was very careful, even if one of the mom’s was biting her fingernails the whole time.
How to cross the swampy spots without getting our feet wet. (Once we got off the top of the bluff, the trail got a little wetter.) All those little saplings offer great handholds as you walk on the fallen tree balance beam. Just watch out for the prickers! Poor Mr. Curiosity – I let a branch go and he had a pricker embed itself in his scalp. No blood, but tricky to find in his hair.
Grapevines are great fun to swing on.
As per usual, it was a great time. Everyone got to stretch their bodies and see new things, and enjoy some fresh air. The wind coming off the lake was cold, but once we got off the top of the bluff it was quite delightful in the woods. My only disappointment was we couldn’t find any frog eggs. Maybe next time!