Pineywoods Nature Trail | Lake Livingston State Park
Prairie plantain, Arnoglossum plantagineum
The Pineywoods Nature Trail turned out to be a fascinating trail for us to hike and one that was perfectly suited for Forest to explore on foot. We went through the loop twice over the weekend we were camping and each time saw new things. Forest really enjoyed being able to explore on his own and funnily enough he remembered some key points about where we’d visited on the first round, such as where exactly we had found a green anole on the first trip. Turned out, the green anole was still in the same place he was on that first trip and he and Chris had a bunch of fun oogling at the lizard.
If following the boardwalk in a counterclockwise direction, it leads to the bird blind and pond first. Chris spotted a bullfrog on the far end of the pond on one of the visits and Forest and I spotted a rabbit near the bird blind. I’m stuck figuring out if it is a swamp rabbit or eastern cottontail—anyone want to tell me? One of the interpretive signs had a display for swamp rabbit which is what I’m leaning towards here but I’m really unsure because of the angle of the photo.
There were plenty of caterpillars, too, though we saw a few other species that we weren’t seeing at our campsite. They weren’t dropping nearly as plentifully as they were at the campsite, either, but near the Frog Pond area the railing and picnic table was covered in them. Forest enjoyed watching them from a distance and really, this trail is what I believe eased his fears on the caterpillars. He was able to experience them as an exploration instead of an infestation and I think he came to appreciate them a little bit more.
What I enjoyed about this trail was that we really took it easy, stopping to look at the different plants or insects, enjoying the changing habitat. While it was mostly a forested and mesic area, there was an open area on the north end of the loop with grasses and full-sun plants to enjoy.
I realized later that we didn’t really hike a whole lot on this trip. Sure, we did this loop twice, popped over to a short 1/3 mile loop near the park entrance, and then the short section of the Trinity Trace trail, but we didn’t hike the other trails. Chris spent a lot of time fishing and Forest and I just meandered around the campsite and around the area Chris was fishing. It was a pleasant change from the hiking we usually do and I found myself excited for the days when Forest is able to ride a bike and we can bike around the campground, too.
We have a few more camping adventures planned for spring—hopefully!—and I’ll keep y’all posted on those trip reports as they happen.
It’s so cool that you got Forest into camping and wondering and nature so early- that’s *such* a huge deal, that he’s learning to appreciate the value of nature and the environment and how magical it can be to just check things out and take the time to pay attention to life. It’s magic. It’s there for the witnessing, if you just take the time to look. So many kids don’t get that. Gracie’s not exactly a nature buff, but she’s not squeamish and she gets interested when we get interested. She helps with the garden and butterflies but I think since she’s always been around it it’s not novel to her. The garden is STILL novel to me, after all these years. The butterflies practically send me into a tizzy, and we’ve had them for about a year now.
We had a tear in a screen this week and an Admiral flew into the lanai- we’d NEVER seen one locally or rasied one so when we spotted it, Tom and I felt like we won the lottery or something. I think it flew back out, but it was super cool.
I kind of always assumed that *everyone* was enchanted by nature and the natural world, and it was very startling to realize that it’s not the case. I still get surprised when I get all excited about a flower or a lizard or a butterfly or whatever and people just stare at me blankly. Oh well- some people get excited about diamonds and cars, and I kind of stare at *them* blankly. 😉