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Posts Tagged ‘Highland Recreation Area’

Highland Recreation area is one of the more unique Parks in Southeastern Michigan. Mainly because so much of it dates back so far and remains unspoiled.

The old Ford Lodge at HAVEN HILL. Only the foundations remain

Like the Haven Hill estate built by Edsel Ford in the late 1920s, and the designated Natural Area that surrounds the Dammed Haven Hill lake Edsel formed when he first purchased the land.

The Ford Fountain area. Secluded and peaceful setting.

The Ford Pool. Now appears to be in the middle of the forest.

Much of what is now Highland Recreation area was either part of the Edsel Ford Estate or the Dodge Brothers hunting retreat, or was just old family Farmsteads. All these parcels of land eventually came together to form Highland Recreation area. Most have not seen anything else but original Homesteading since the late 1800s, until they where either  purchased or donated to the state of Michigan to eventually form the Park.

 

The diversity of habitats and the huge differences of micro environments due to the ever rolling hills that make up the Park, have produced some of the most unique settings of any Park in S.E. Michigan. Many of the highest points in S.E.MI. are in the Park itself.

The Park is also home to many, many natural Springs. These Springs, along with the changing elevations, again, have formed some micro ecosystems that support many different kinds of plants and animals.

The Ford Estate Dog Kennels

If you are looking for a truly diverse Nature experience, or want some Natural History that dates back to the earliest Homesteads, or want to experience some of the lifestyles of Edsel Ford and his family at what was their Estate, then Highland Recreation is your destination.

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Although it is always beautiful at Haven Hill in Highland Recreation area, no matter what time of year, Fall is the most special of times for exploring the history there. After much of the thick foliage and ground cover has dies off, there is much to be reviled.

Right now is a perfect time at Haven Hill. There are still some very colorful trees with leaves on them, but enough of the thick ground cover has gone away to expose much of the old forgotten Nature Trails and historical features that get swallowed in the Spring and Summer months.

We suggest you download the two maps we offer here on the Blog, and also head over to the Haven Hill Project web site, and get an idea of some of the historical sites you would like to visit on your Fall Colors exploration tour. The Colors happening in the far west end of the old Ford private Nature Trails are just spectacular! Or if you are really energetic……take the long 5 mile journey, all the way around Haven Hill lake and through the heart of the Haven Hill Natural Area. Again……you will experience some of the very best Fall colors anywhere in S.E.Michigan.

No matter what you end up doing at Haven Hill at this time of year, the lack of thick cover, no insects or Skeeters, and the combination of history and Nature will make for just a wonderful afternoon Fall experience you will not soon forget.

See you all out on the Trails at Haven Hill, Highland Recreation area!

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Highland Recreation area and especially the Natural area surrounding Haven Hill can be a delight to Hike and explore. But at this time of year you need to have a few precautions in mind.

The area is flourishing with Poison Ivy. This little bugger just loves the soil and ecosystems there and grows both on the ground and vines up many trees along the trails. Precaution is the best way to deal with Poison Ivy. Be aware of just how this plant looks and eventually being able to spot it, will become second nature. It is worth the learning effort.

The other precaution to take while enjoying a hike around the Haven Hill area, are Ticks. They have become plentiful not only here at Highland Recreation area, but through out the state. DEET and other repellents can help, but checking yourself and your clothing after a Hike is one of the best ways to not walk away from an adventure at the Park, carrying Ticks. This means your Doggie friends too.

Here is a good reference and ID sheet for Ticks in Michigan. Again….just a bit of learning here and some prevention can give you a Tick free hike and a much more enjoyable time at the Park.

TICKS ID & PREVENTION SHEETS

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In preparations for this Saturdays Natural area HIKE with Hiking Michigan, out at Highland Recreation area, Rich & Chris, Trail Leaders for the HIKE, went on a couple of picture pre-hikes in the area.

Beautiful as always, in any season, the Natural area showed all the signs of getting ready to Spring alive. Tiny sprouts, Lilly-pad blooms underwater and snails clinging to the edges of the Haven Hill lake Dam. With all the warm rain and extra warm temps. scheduled this week, it is hard to say just what will be blooming through out the Natural area, this Saturday at the HIKE.

Rich & Chris have a lovely route selected for us that circles back through sections of the old Ford Estate on Haven Hill. So it will be a day of Nature & History at Haven Hill, Highland Recreation area, Saturday, 3/17/12, starting at 12noon and meeting at the Circle parking area. If we get lucky…..Haven Hill expert Darrin, will be on hand for questions and to share some of his extensive knowledge of the history and foliage of Haven Hill.

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I got to Highland around 11am, in the pouring rain. I sat in my car, fielding telephone calls from Hikers who where not coming out in the rain. Didn’t blame them, it had been raining since yesterday night. About 11:30am it let up a bit and I went outside the car and shot a few pictures, that I thought I would use for this rain canceled Hike.

12 noon rolled around and the rain let up to a semi-drizzle and 15 people show up in full rain gear. I was glad I brought mine, and didn’t assume we would cancel on rain. Silly thought on my part……we have NEVER canceled because of rain. :-)

We all headed up Haven Hill and roamed around the Pump-House, Carriage House, Lodge remains, Toboggan Run & Dog Kennel. Mike had all the coordinates for the three USGS Markers on the Hill. We found them all. Also explored some of the light posts that lit the Toboggan run at one time.

From there we headed back down the side of Haven Hill, to the Pool & Tennis court. Always an amazing place to see a huge built-in Pool in the middle of the forest. We went a short distance from there, over to the Fountain area. Another enclosed Ford area, with what was probably a beautiful shallow Fountain in between two small hills in the forest. A quite and natural spot. We talked there about the Estate, the Ford family and some of the details of the infrastructure of the Estate as a whole. A huge system of water pipe, underground electrical conduits and cutting edge Septic system.

We all wandered back to the Circle parking lot and decided to get some food at a local restaurant. Had a great time at the Restaurant. Lots of good laughs and stories. With the long walk and rainy conditions, it produced huge appetites in the Hikers. We ate enormous amounts of food and Deserts.

For what was suppose to be a rain-out Hike, we had an excellent time in unique conditions at Haven Hill. We all stayed pretty dry with our rain coats and hoods. Turned out to be an excellent day.

NOTES: I was appalled at the vandalism and destruction to almost every remaining building and amenity at Haven Hill. Stolen copper flashing from the Carriage house, shroud covering the Toboggan lift stolen, old light poles pulled from the ground, Gang graffiti, and many other things that are adding to the quick deterioration of the entire area. Cannot understand why a number of things are not being done to help keep what is left of the Estate, intact. A person visiting the Estate, even 1 year ago, would hardly recognize what was there before. In a couple of years now, there will only be remains that hardly resembles what was really there. It is a shame at what is happening there, both in Vandalism and lack of proper care.

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We have updated one of our main maps that covers the entire eastern side of Highland Recreation area. This whole east side of the Park, was the old Edsel Ford Estate. The updated map has been re-GPSed, and all the various Park Trail signs are also indicated on the map.

The Estate buildings and infrastructure is well marked on this new map, so exploring on your own can be done. We hope this map will enthuse many of you to go out to Haven Hill and wander the old Estate and the Haven Hill Natural area as well. Have fun in this great combination of history % nature in one setting.

DOWNLOAD THE NEW PARK MAP HERE:

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Don’t miss the History Hike on Sunday, 11/27/11, 12pm-3pm, at Highland Recreation area. Here is a smaple of some of the places we will be visiting.

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Well….the leaves are just about gone and the thick foliage has thinned immensely. Perfect conditions for exploring the Edsel & Eleanor Ford Estate on Haven Hill, at Highland Recreation Area.

Sunday, 11/27/11, 12pm-3pm, Hiking Michigan will be leading a History Hike for the HAVEN HILL PROJECT, and exploring the many features that made up this magnificent estate. We will see the Lodge remains, Carriage house, Pool, Tennis Court, Fountain area, Toboggan Run, Kennels and much more of what mad up this interesting place.

The Ford family built the Estate in the early 1920s as a home to raise their family at. Self sustaining, the Haven Hill estate had a working Farm, pumped it’s own water and handled it’s own Septic systems. Most of the infrastructure was way ahead of it’s time.

We will be examining many details that get overlooked at this Estate. There will be display boards with old Estate pictures and details, for discussion before the Hike. A detailed map of the Haven Hill area of the Park will be given to all in attendance, along with a History Time-line of the Estate and Park.

So relax over Thanks Giving, eat that Turkey, and then come walk it all off and enjoy an afternoon of History, Nature and fun on Haven Hill at Highland Recreation area.

DOWNLOAD A FLYER WITH MORE DETAILS

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The Fall season is the very best of times to explore the Edsel Ford Estate at Haven Hill. With the ground cover dieing back and the foliage falling away, much that was hidden by the summers growth is now reveled.

Sign posts, foundations, fence lines and old structures appear almost out of no where with the leaves falling. So download a updated Map from the HAVEN HILL PROJECT web site, do a little studying, and then wait a bit as the leaves start to fall. Then head out to the Estate and do some of the best historical exploring you will experience in almost any place in Michigan.

This is also a great time to hike the Natural Area loop, around Haven Hill lake. Edsel Ford did much around the Dam area at the lake, so keep your eyes open for signs of family activity there. Look for Hiking Michigan to sponsor another Fall HISTORY HIKE this year again. Sometime in October there will be announcements. This is a Fall Tour you should not miss.

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It is always a joy to wander around the Haven Hill natural area and at the old Edsel Ford Lodge. But this year, more then ever, there is a huge amount of Poison Ivy lurking in the underbrush. Poison Ivy has always been a part of the environment through out the Park, but this year in particular, it has seen a huge insurgence everywhere.

It is intriguing to wander off the trails and explore some of what remains of the old estate on Haven Hill. But this is when you should be the most cautious on contact with Poison Ivy. learn to ID the plant and just avoid contact. Enjoy the wonders and beauty of Haven Hill, and do it safely.

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