Way back in October, I made my first foray to the 44-acre Refuge Gateway of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, located on the Trenton Channel of the Detroit River in Trenton, Michigan.
For me, it was a long-awaited visit, since this portion of the 48-mile International Wildlife Refuge was well overdue by the time of its grand opening on October 1, 2020. This was not just because of COVID, which halted some work at this Trenton Gateway venue, but simply because it was such a massive project, spanning many years, which began with the demolition of formerly industrial toxic areas that long occupied the Detroit riverfront. These are three photos of info about that demolition and eventual revitalization. There are many informational kiosks located throughout this venue.
A few facts for you.
The entire Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge encompasses much more than just this Trenton Gateway venue. It actually includes 48 miles of the Detroit River and Western Lake Erie shorelines, several Refuge Islands, marshes, shoals and waterfront lands. So this Trenton Gateway is merely a portion of the entire wetland area. It is still a work in progress with a Visitor Center yet to open due to COVID and additional hiking trails will be added to the three miles of trails currently available.
I have followed the progress of this venue via Facebook for several years, and, like my good friend Ann Marie, we would always glance over at this work-in-progress site each time we respectively drove along Jefferson Avenue, when returning from Lake Erie Metropark, which is four miles away.
After the grand opening was announced, I could hardly wait to go. I e-mailed Ann Marie with the good news and the specifics. Because this venue is open Thursday through Sunday only, not surprisingly there were crowds that initial weekend, with lot of photos and comments posted by happy trekkers and fishermen. My elation faded a tad … oh ya … the crowds and social distancing. Thus, I resolved to bide my time until the newness wore off and then I’d stop by. After three weeks, I triple masked-up and made the first of three visits last Fall. That visit will be the subject of today’s post.
Of course, being trigger happy with the shutter button on those three visits created a colossal dilemma, i.e. the unwieldy task of sorting through a ton of photos, then writing the narrative to go with each trek. My picture files groaned with the many shots and languished all these months while I spun out posts from my Fall and Winter excursions. I decided to pick my favorite shots from this venue and do two posts only and thankfully finally got it done yesterday due to an ugly weather day.
Here’s the recap of that first visit
Trip #1 was on October 25th. It began as a dark, dismal and gray Sunday morning and for that reason I chose to visit this newest natural gem in the Downriver area. I had method in my madness because I also figured the chilly temps (42F/5C) (10 degrees below normal) and gusty winds would surely keep the crowds away. Yep – a good idea, as I was the only one meandering around the woods, marsh and Delta areas, though there were about ten fisherman hoping for their catch of the day on the Korneffel Fishing Pier.
Along the very long, sloped walkway that leads to the Korneffel Fishing Pier I was bombarded with informational signs – so much information, but so little time, and, because of my concern over crowding, I picked up a few pamphlets and photographed some signs to read before I returned and also to help with stats to compile my narratives.
I started along the Korneffel Fishing Pier which is a whopping 700 feet (213 meters) long and juts out into the western Trenton Channel. There is plenty of room for fishermen and folks with binoculars and cameras without bumping into one another. I am sure it will be a hoppin’ place when the Silver Bass and Walleye begin running later this Spring.
I could see the Detroit River and off in the distance, Lake Erie from my vantage point on this pier.
I climbed back up the slope and saw the Visitor Center at the top of the hill. I am looking forward to checking it out once it finally opens.
There were signs indicating future pollinator areas so I hope that once we get to Summer, we’ll have a butterfly haven as well.
As I headed back up to Jefferson Avenue to get a shot of the sign to use as my header image, the pesky clouds parted and a hint of sunshine peeked out (not that it warmed me up and my fingers were getting numb). As the sky brightened, I was sorry I hadn’t waited to get better shots, but I knew I would be returning.
There was an Art-in-the Park exhibit here. It looked a little out of place, but I know the Detroit Institute of Arts had a campaign to enlighten people with reproductions of art from the DIA and thus many such paintings were featured in the Trenton-area parks from August through October.
Because of the wind buffeting me from time to time, I did not walk along the Monguagon Boardwalk. Yes, I was a fraidy-cat, but it has no railings – yikes! Nor did I walk out onto this boat launch area.
I lamented over losing a shot of a Great Egret that was spooked by my arrival, but decided he was too far away anyway. However, just a few minutes later, luck was with me in a small cove where I had an up-close-and-personal visit with a Great Blue Heron. I’ll save those pictures for this week’s Wordless Wednesday post.
I wandered around Humbug Marsh and explored that woodsy area as well. My initial impression from this visit was the contrast between the streamlined, modern-looking fishing pier and Visitor Center versus the rustic simplicity of Humbug Marsh which meanders along the River and is part of the 300-year-old Old Growth Forest. Some forest hiking trails are natural turf, while other trails have planks to cross Vernal Ponds or marshy areas. You may walk or bike on these trails. Humbug Marsh is touted as “the only mile of undeveloped land left along the Detroit River.” A separate and much shorter post on Thursday will be devoted to just Humbug Marsh.