Nature Festival – Morgan Falls and St. Peter’s Dome

After hiking the Sea Caves on May 14, we met up with our group at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center before departing for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest that afternoon.

At the entrance, festival participants could write their unique bird finds, along with the place and time, on an easel. A snowy owl had been spotted at Maslowski Beach twice that morning.

My mom and I were eager to see the snowy owl, so we made a quick stop at the beach to take photos on the way to our destination. It was a windy day, so the water was splashing up in front of the owl while it sat on the rocks near shore.

2015-05-14_bird-maslowskibeach_snowyowl2I decided to send this photo to the Ashland Daily Press in case they wanted to publish it, and the following week they did!

2015-05-14_bird-maslowskibeach_snowyowl1It didn’t take us long to catch up to the rest of the group’s motorcade. At the forest, we participated in a wildflower walk to identify spring ephemerals, such as trillium and jack-in-the-pulpit.

2015-05-14_stpetersdome_trillium 2015-05-14_bird_morganfalls-jackinthepulpit

One of our guides was US Forest Service plant ecologist Steve Spickerman. Here, he shows the group what a ramp looks like.

2015-05-14_bird_morganfalls-ramps2015-05-14_bird_morganfalls-tree2We learned how the hardwood forest changes over time, in large part because of the impact earthworms have on the soil.

On the walk, we also looked for yellow birch and different types of ferns.

2015-05-14_bird_morganfalls-fern 2015-05-14_stpetersdome_flower 2015-05-14_bird_morganfalls-tree

Soon we arrived at Morgan Falls. At 70 feet high, it is one of the tallest waterfalls in Wisconsin.

2015-05-14_bird_morganfalls-falls1 2015-05-14_bird_morganfalls-falls2

The group turned back at Morgan Falls, but my mom and I continued further to get a panoramic view of the forest and bay from St. Peter’s Dome. It was a surprisingly quiet walk to the top, and we had to be careful to avoid a mud pit on the way.

2015-05-14_stpetersdome_tree-mushroom 2015-05-14_stpetersdome_streamOnce we neared the top, we started to hear the chattering of a red squirrel and chirping of birds, including a rose-breasted grosbeak and hermit thrush.2015-05-14_stpetersdome_squirrel





2015-05-14_stpetersdome_overlook22015-05-14_stpetersdome_overlook32015-05-14_stpetersdome_overlook1The long walk was worth the view of the vast forest from its highest point at 1,600 feet. Although it was a bit hazy, we could see all the way to Lake Superior.

Many of the trees were just starting to bud. The subtle browns were interrupted by flashes of bright yellow-green.

We were definitely exhausted after hiking almost 8 miles on rugged terrain that day, but it prepared us for an even more difficult walk through the Penokee Mountains on May 15.


Day 1: Sea Caves and Morgan Falls and St. Peter’s Dome

Day 2: Penokee Mountains and Copper Falls

Day 3: Stockton Island


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