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Photo essay: Signs of autumn in Southeast Wisconsin

October 25, 2018  |  Topics: Spotlight

By Eddee Daniel


Have you been able to find the colors of autumn this year? Through sheer persistence I have managed to locate a few bright splashes, which I’ll share with you. But it hasn’t been easy. According to Travel Wisconsin’s Fall Color Report, most of Southeast Wisconsin is at peak right now. But it’s hard to see that on the ground. Usually, by this time in October you could be assured that wherever you went you would see a pretty fine display.


Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’ve just had the bad luck and timing to visit places a bit too early or late to catch their best colors. Maybe you’ve had better luck. If you have, I invite you to share your favorite photos on our “Share your story or photo” page.


Fishing, Sauk Creek Preserve, Ozaukee County


Autumn, of course, is more than the color of dying leaves. Fish are running up our rivers to spawn. Flowers are going to seed, berries ripening. Migrating birds have—mostly—moved on by now. Morning frost can make even green or brown leaves appear mystical and magical. People are out enjoying the last warm days before winter sets in. I’ve discovered all these things and more in my recent travels around the area and, as always, I have been struck by our wealth of nature.


Seven Bridges Trail, Grant Park, Milwaukee County


I have limited my presentation to one photo, without commentary, from each of the 26 parks and preserves represented here. Some are old favorites, like Grant Park and the Kettle Moraine State Forest. But quite a few are places I’ve never been before. Remember, if you’re looking for a place to hike, to enjoy the last gasp of autumn before it’s gone, our “Find a park” feature can help you locate one.


Note: the “Find a park” map is a work in progress. Some of the locations I’ve included in this photo essay have not yet been added to it. If you don’t see your own favorite place to commune with nature, please contact us and let us know. We’ll try to have it added before long.


Photo essay:


Sunrise through birches, Lake Twelve, Washington County


Kettle Moraine State Forest – Loew Lake Unit, Washington County


Bursting milkweed pod, Hoyt Park, Milwaukee County


Huiras Lake State Natural Area, Ozaukee County


Autumn prairie wildflowers, Trout Ponds – Prairie Preserve, Racine County


Kurtz Woods State Natural Area, Ozaukee County


Oconomowoc River Conservancy, Waukesha County


Color coordinated playground, Copernicus Park, Milwaukee County


Pleasant Valley Nature Park, Ozaukee County


Humboldt Park, Milwaukee County


Seeing red! Lime Kiln Park, Ozaukee County


Holler Park, Milwaukee County


Leonard J. Yahr County Park, Washington County


Frosted forbs, Kratzsch Conservancy, Washington County


DNR guided tour, Havenwoods State Forest, Milwaukee County


Nicholson Wildlife Refuge, Racine County


Haskell Noyes Memorial Woods State Natural Area, Sheboygan County


Ripening bittersweet berries, Wehmhoff Woodland Preserve, Racine County


Muskego Park, Waukesha County


Shady Lane State Natural Area, Ozaukee County


Pavcek Preserve, Washington County


Nature trail, Kletzsch Park, Milwaukee County


Green heron, Jacobus Park, Milwaukee County


But wait! There’s more…. Just after I finished writing and before I posted this I went out for a walk in the Milwaukee County Grounds. Wil-O-Way Woods is resplendent right now. The maples are carrying nearly all of the color and, although turning a bit late, they are beautiful. Maybe we just need to be more patient. The warm, rainy conditions we’ve had this fall may simply have delayed things. So, don’t hesitate to go out and Find a Park!


Wil-O-Way Woods, County Grounds, Milwaukee County


The featured photo at the top is a view from Parnell Tower in the Kettle Moraine State Forest – Northern Unit in Sheboygan County.

Eddee Daniel is a board member of Preserve Our Parks and A Wealth of Nature project director.