June 7: A Delightful Hike Through Brennan Memorial

By Tina Patterson and Dave Wendling

Group at Brennan

With our 17 friends at Brennan Memorial! Photo by Marianne Glosenger

As we expected 8 people to join us at James and Alice Brennan Memorial Nature Sanctuary, we were pleasantly surprised when 17 hikers showed, anxious to explore these 118 acres. It is always a bonus to have other sanctuary stewards on hand, and four stewards and two board members showed their support for Brennan steward Christine Wood and the Odyssey by joining us for the day. As it is with many of the Showcase Sanctuaries, the stewards keep the sanctuary in excellent condition  This certainly applies to long-term stewards Jeff and Christine Wood who have kept this sanctuary in great condition including the 2-mile trail and the two bridges.

Pine River

The Pine River running through Brennan Memorial. Photo by Marilyn Keigley

As Christine led us through the beautiful woods along the Pine River, we soon forget that we were close to busy Port Huron. Inspiration Grove is just 500 feet from the entrance and is the first of the evergreen plantations on the sanctuary.  As we walked across the carpet of needles we gazed up into the cathedral-like canopy of red pine and spruce, and listened to the birds. Such groves are often used as nest sites by large birds like the barred owl. Continuing along the trail, we passed through a variety of habitats that provide for a great diversity of flora and fauna. Floodplains, slopes and high banks, along with the Pine River and pine groves attract and provide shelter for many species. Christine pointed out that the spring wild flowers, long past bloom this year, are found on the floodplain, slopes, and high banks; the view of the Pine River and trees is spectacular in the fall.  We crossed the Pine River twice on our journey.  On the second crossing we could see a spectacular beaver pond from the bridge.  If you follow the Pine River it flows through or near three other MNA sanctuaries: first it flows through the Polovich Memorial Nature Sanctuary five miles downstream; then it passes near the Jasper Woods Sanctuary and eventually the Moore Woods Sanctuary near where the Pine River empties into the St. Clair River.

For more pictures from our trip to Brennan Memorial Nature Sanctuary, visit MNA’s Flickr page.

As we finish this very delightful hike we have reached the half way point in the Odyssey.  If you haven’t had a chance to join us yet we hope to see you along with some of our old friends during the second half of the Odyssey.  We start up again on July 15 at Fred Dye Nature Sanctuary just across the bridge in the U.P.  Then back to the Lower Peninsula to Newaygo Prairie on July 17 and Genevieve Casey on July 18.  We will be seeing habitats that are normally quite dry and/or barren, and it will be interesting to see what is happening to these sanctuaries in this dry and hot year. Two things to keep in mind: first, the hike at Fred Dye as well as all hikes in the U.P. will start at 1:00 p.m.  Newaygo Prairie and Genevieve Casey will start at the usual time of 10:00 a.m.  There will also be a bonus trip on the afternoon of Newaygo Prairie, so bring a picnic lunch and join us at the nearby Karner Blue Nature Sanctuary at 1:30 p.m. following the Newaygo event.  As before, MNA will provide water and lemonade as well as cookies.

If you’d like to be on the carpooling list for the final segment of the Odyssey Tour in the Keweenaw Peninsula, please contact the office so an accurate head count can be made. Call Johanna Swanson at (866) 223-2231 or email jswanson@michigannature.org. We hope to see you there!



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