Tag Archives: Park

Parfreys Glen. A winter hike on a frozen stream.

The seasons have changed.  A cold beauty of white and leafless trees await you as you hike into Parfreys Glen.  After an ice storm January’s freeze gave way to a thaw.  I thought it was a good time for a winter hike out to the glen.  It is a stark contrast to the last post.  Instead of vibrant greens there is the bare beauty of the glen.  Frosted rocks.  A stream frozen in time.  Dark trees clawing the winter sky.

If you would like to visit do bring your Yaktrax as you will be walking and climbing on ice.

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Chapel in the Woods, Durward’s Glen

Video by danedem

A spiritual hike along tree fern lined paths.  Creeping myrtle with periwinkle blossoms greet you as you walk to the chapel.

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The Durwards fell in love with the glen, and they bought the land from a blacksmith who lived there.  The Durwards called their home “Auld Geordies”, but later referred to it simply as “the glen”.  While living in the glen, they made a living  truck farming, selling their fruits and vegetables in local markets.

The Durwards constructed a house on top of a knoll on the property.   In 1866, the family built a small chapel so that Mrs. Durward did not have to walk so far to church. One of her sons was ordained there.  Later they added a studio to the buildings.   After the chapel, known as “St. Mary’s of the Pines”, burned in 1923, it was restored by the Madison council of the Knights of Columbus in the late 1920s.  The Durward family sold the land to the Roman Catholic Order of St. Camillus in 1932. The order established a seminary on the land, where it trained priests beginning in the 1930s.  The order’s primary building was a 75-foot stone and log novitiate, built entirely by hand.  The buildings were expanded in the 1960s to accommodate a conference and retreat center.  The glen was sold to The College of Saint Mary Magdalen in 2007, which owned the land for four years before selling it to Durward’s Glen Our Lady of the Rosary Group. The group now uses the property as a retreat center, and for weddings and other group events. (excerpt from Wikipedia)

The property is located off of Hwy 33.  You take Hwy X east until you reach Durwards Glen Road.  Take a right and travel for about 6 miles until you reach Leisch Rd.  Take a right and the parking lot is on the right at the bottom of the hill. 

There is a path the meanders through a wooded area.  Along the way there are markers containing small carvings of the signs of the cross.  As you make your way up the hill among the maples and oaks you will find a creeping myrtle patch.  In the summer the blossoms peek out from behind the dark green leaves.  In the clearing at the top of the hill is the chapel and cemetery.  Large tombstones with simple carving are lined among large elaborately carved religious statues. 

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A small chapel sits on the crest of the hill.  Behind the chapel is a path down to the glen.  It can be slippery so watch your step.  The Durward cemetery is behind the chapel along the path.  The old markers are interesting and allow one to peak into the history of the family.  At the edge of the glen you will find stairs the take you down to the stream level. 

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A rock lines stream cut through the rock thousands of years ago to create the glen.  White pines tower over your head.  It is breath taking in the spring with all the green poking through. 

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A pond and bridge great you with a drinking fountain.  Just past the pond is a garden of historic buildings and quiet garden nooks to find spiritual solace.  

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Hemlock Draw State Natural Area

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.