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The trees are in their autumn beauty,
It's a month known to cast a spell on everyone from poets to major-league relief pitchers. You too can join the general swoon prompted by October's charms. TRAVELER presents a few ways to celebrate this most enticing month:
Honor Wisconsin's Father of Ecology by hiking the Aldo Leopold Environmental History Trail, a five-mile ramble through forests, prairies, savannas, ponds, marshes, working farmsteads and an 1870s village. Pick up the trail at Old World Wisconsin, just south of Eagle. The marked trail helps hikers identify plant species typical of each landscape and to understand the historic relationship between land and people. A fascinating integration of Wisconsin's landscapes and cultures will greet you at every turn. Old World Wisconsin is an outdoor museum of immigrant farm and village life operated by the State Historical Society; it's open through October 31 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. (262) 594-6300.
Honk with the experts during Saturday Goose Talks at the Marsh Haven Nature Center in Waupun. The hour-long, hands-on presentations will highlight Canada geese and the ecology of the Horicon Marsh – 32,000 fabulous acres of cattails and duckweed. The honking commences at 4 p.m. every Saturday in October. Call (920) 386-2182 for more details. While you're in the vicinity, tour the 36-mile Wild Goose Parkway (in a car); hikers and bikers can follow the 34-mile Wild Goose State Trail skirting the western edge of the marsh.
If geese don't blow your horn, choose a mid- to late October dawn to park yourself at one of the three observation towers in Gallagher Marsh at the Sandhill Wildlife Area near Babcock. You'll be rewarded for your early-morning roust with the sight of several thousand sandhill cranes greeting the day. Follow the 14-mile Trumpeter Trail, a self-guided auto tour winding through hardwood forests, oak savannas, prairies and flowages, and you'll see plenty of migrating waterfowl en route to points south. (715) 884-2437.
Mid-October to early November is a good time to migrate over to Rieck's Lake Park in Alma. Tundra swans are the draw here; the big birds follow the Mississippi Flyway, accompanied by herons, bitterns and great egrets. All enjoy a pause at this congenial rest stop, and you will, too. (608) 685-4249 offers a recorded message.
Spend a weekend Exploring Forests and Forestry with BOW – Becoming an Outdoors-Woman. The two-day workshop offers woodland owners, enthusiasts and educators hands-on opportunities to learn tree identification, forest and watershed management, tree pruning and planting, wildlife management and more. The workshop will be held October 13-15 at Camp Helen Brachman in central Wisconsin. For more information call toll-free 1-877-BOWOMAN or e-mail Peggy Farrell. Visit BOW on the web: Becoming an Outdoors-Woman
Finally, if you're a fanatic for the finest in fall color, commit this phone number to memory: 1-800-432-TRIP. It's Wisconsin's Fall Color Hotline, operated day and night, year-round, by real live folks who know where the foliage is peaking all around the state. (Ask nice and they may divulge secret scenic locations for color viewing!)