A warm summer day deserves a cool walk in a shady wood. The Hemlock Draw State Natural Area just out of Leland is that cool wood. Just take Hemlock Road 2 miles, then continue north on Reich Drive 0.5 miles to the gate. Park along the shoulder of the road south of the mailbox. Please do not block Reich Drive as local farmer use it to move large equipment. It is easy to miss so keep your eyes peeled.
Upon entering the trail head there is a sign to great you. It will tell you about the Natural Area and map it out for you. A short walk down the trail and it opens onto a stream. The birds fly overhead asking you to follow. You can make out many different birds from the calls if you listen carefully. There are many different species of birds in this natural area. A great place for bird watching. During the migration the birds take refuge here so you can spot many types of birds that yo nave not seen before.
There is a stream crossing that is a little tricky. A little ravine and then the stream. As long as you are sure footed you should have no problem. There is skunk cabbage and wildflowers growing by the stream edge. The water trickles slowly down the stream. The sounds are tranquil with the birds and stream gurgling, the wind rushing through the trees. This is a quiet hike and you will rarely see another person in the wood.
The woods are filling with birch and maple. White oak and ash. Many different types of trees as the trail winds through the wood.None are marked yet those who know the different species will be able to pick out the variety of trees within the natural area. Just looking at the leaves you can see the wide varity of maples, oaks and birch.
After about 4 miles in you will come to the hemlock draw. Sandstone outcroppings with hemlock growing along a dry stream bed. The sandstone is cool to the touch. The hemlocks block the sun as they touch the sky. It is like a cathedral with a choir of birds singing as you walk among the towering hemlocks. The dry stream bed is covered with small stones like a cobble stoned road. Dappled sunlight plays upon the stones at midday. As you walk through the draw you can feel the cool air wafting off the sandstone. There are places where you can scale the sandstone but be careful of poison ivy and itch weed. It is prevalent in the overgrowth of fauna.
You can spend many hours investigating the natural area. There are only a couple of paths in the wood but each is a pleasure to hike. You will not forget this place and this fem will be a favorite spot if you ever decide to hike it. It is a great hike for a hot afternoon.