Friday, February 24, 2012

Wau-ke-na William Erby Smith Preserve

2012 02 06  A Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy preserve, Wau-ke-na William Erby Smith Preserve is where we landed. 

We took exit 34 from U.S. 196/ U.S. 31, drove south on Lakeshore Drive past Pier Cove Park, continued south past West Side Park, finally turning west on 121st Avenue.  There is a Ganges Township road end access point here to Lake Michigan.  Plummerville Creek is on the south side of this road.

     121st Avenue Road end
  Plummerville Creek- private land

 I have mentioned before the book, "Michigan's West Coast  Explore the Shore Guide" by Brian Hutchins, it has directions to many "out of the way" road ends that are legal to access.

We have been here before, we didn't get out of the car.  Along this 121st Avenue is a small sign, "State Wildlife Sanctuary" what's that about?

On down the road we went, crossing over Plummerville Creek, then past the Plummerville cemetery, over one more road and we have arrived at Wau-ke-na, north.
We parked in a grassy lot at 9:33am, it was cloudy, gray, and 34 degrees.  This was a day the forecasters kept saying sunny, blue sky - it is almost better when they say gray sky and clouds because they seem to get it wrong more than right.

Anyway off we go on a new adventure.  We had some maps that we got online, some help to know what was here and where we could go.  A grassy two-track was leading us off around big fir trees and through fields.
                 Map, North tract Wau-ke-na
   We also saw signs with the name this way.
                 Rules to follow,  please

Soon we reached the bluff above Lake Michigan, there was a bench and a stiff wind. 

 Bench on the bluff
Looking south over the bluff we could see water flowing across the beach.  That's where we want to go!  But how, we couldn't go down the bluff.

We went south, following the trails - we came to a cut in the bluff so down we go, and there was another sign for Wau-ke-na. The water flowing across the beach seemed to just appear out of nowhere and there were rocks, lots of rocks.

    Creek Ahead

    Maybe not a creek but a seep?

After checking out the rocks we turned south and walked on the beach until we came to another creek!  It was cold and windy, but not unbearable, and definitely better than 90 degrees.
 Second creek on the beach

One of us was looking for certain kinds of rocks, I don't want to give away all our secrets, well we may have found a "Lightning Stone".  Or maybe we didn't.
                             Lightning Stone?
Another book "My Michigan Rocks and Minerals", says these Lightning Stones are brownish-red stones with lightning bolt patterns, it also says they are Septarian Geodes but they are not geodes at all, so a better name is Septarian Nodules.  This is too deep for me, I just thought they looked cool.

We enjoyed the creek immensely.  We found many neat rocks.

Feathered Rock? Nope just a feather

    Got Rocks?

Finally we turned north, headed back up the beach, past by where we had come down to the beach from Wau-ke-na, walked all the way to Plummerville Creek.  Remember this is where the access point is from 121st Avenue. 

   Plummerville Creek

Plummerville Creek was much larger than the other creeks we had seen today.  We weren't sure we could cross it, but just as the water reached the big lake there was a place to cross if we timed it right with the waves.  The current was strong and the sand sometimes collapsed under our boots, yikes!  We made it.

Huge sandstone cliffs!  Oh what's that?  You can see the house on the right of the picture. 

We found some rocks here, and lots of houses.  We walked back to Wau-ke-na.  Up the wide cut and off into the woods we go. 

                 Liverwort?  Lichen?  I'm still figuring these out.

Great walking here, mostly a forest of firs.  At the car it was 12:40 and still 34 degrees.  So about 3 hours of fun so far.

We drove ~two miles south to Wau-ke-na south tract, wow this is a wordy post, blah blah, anyway... 
Map Wau-ke-na South Tract

There is preserve property on both sides of the road, to the east we didn't go, there is tall planted grass, solid grass. 

          East section of Wau-ke-na South Tract

We walked on west, here there were signs of restoration everywhere, not pretty, but the SWMLC has big plans for the land. 

I'd say there are more ponds and swamps on this tract than the north tract.  We followed along a trail which was mostly flooded, this was in the woods. 

Swamp at Wau-ke-na South Tract

Then came a huge open field on the southern half of the preserve, we went all the way around this field enjoying our day. 

We wandered around some odd ponds, maybe I was getting tired but I was ready to sit down.  I think I liked the north tract more.  We walked for about an hour, got to the car, and found the temp had dropped two degrees, and still no sun.

We left Wau-ke-na behind and drove around the area a bit then went north through the town of Ganges.  Then home.  We walked over 5 miles today.  No sun but lots of fun!


Anonymous said...

So glad West Michigan has people who want to share the land. Thank you, William Erby Smith. The rocks were cool that day, so many kinds and colors and shapes. I really like your sandstone cliffs and thanks for the pictures of my rocks. My favorite photo is the one of the lone tree in the sea of grass. Art, simply art.
M :)

Dave said...

Just realized how much i miss lake Michigan. I dont think i can wait until warm weather.

kayak1 said...


Plants Amaze Me said...

M :) Yes you are right, Thank You William Erby Smith, and thanks SWMLC for allowing people to visit their preserves.**
Love Rocks! Yep**
The tree in the grass photo? I'll frame it for you. Ha ha. Thank you knowledgeable sister!

flowerdave, you should make the trip to Lake Michigan, just pick a sunny day. :)

Kayak1, Thank you for the comment. :)

stratovolcano said...

great post! I love the "cliffs". So many rocks at the first "seep" - wow. West Michigan looks so clean and nice. Lots of trash out here in Midland-Odessa, and lots of wind to blow it around.

Plants Amaze Me said...

stratovolcano, Yes at the seep there were lots of rocks? So was it a seep? Where did the rocks come from? It wasn't a creek.
Glad you liked the sandcliffs,
ha ha. Michigan is clean, you should visit or we should visit you.