When’s the last time you enjoyed a good walk in the woods?
Ablaze in natural splendor, autumn is prime time to see the forest for the trees, and the Great Lakes State offers a rich tapestry of opportunities including four national parks, three national forests, 102 state parks and (excluding Alaska) the nation’s largest state forest system, encompassing 3.9 million acres — along with lands and lakes owned by counties, cities and townships.
“It’s a great stress reliever…good for the heart and soul,” says Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (page 45), of kayaking on the small Oakland County lake where she and her husband live and raised their daughter. “With our beautiful natural resources and outstanding state park system…there’s so much to see and do, right in our own backyard.”
Throughout the state, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is coaxing more Michiganders into the Great Outdoors through programs like Recreation 101 — a series of free introductory classes to an array of pursuits, from archery to ziplining — and Fresh Air Fitness, a range of park-based workouts like “Yoga in the Woods” and “Pilates on the Beach.”
The ticket to these feel-good sessions, an $11 Recreation Passport, also paves the way to regional Fall Harvest Festivals (page 30, 63) and Becoming an Outdoor Woman (page 42). Through the Michigan DNR’s BOW Program, women state-wide are sharpening skills in everything from fishing, shooting and building fires to hiking, boating and skiing; camaraderie is growing confidence.
“Our students often can’t be taught by their significant others,” notes Sharon Pitz, BOW coordinator. “They aren’t as patient (as female instructors). Or, (a participant) may be a single mom or have a husband who doesn’t know anything.”
Other pathways into the woods unfold on the water (pages 20, 21 and 48) and in Michigan’s Top 5 (page 67), while craftsmanship branches out on page 32 and the past beckons on page 28 from rustic places with screened porches, elusive rainbow trout and nearby trails that wind through ancient stands of towering, untouched pine.
This autumn, embrace a natural, vibrant state and revel in something new, especially if it’s old.
“A riot of colors,” says Jerry Dennis (page 80), “with violins.”
With heartfelt thanks for reading, Lisa M. Jensen – Editor, Michigan BLUE Magazine.