Asters, a Late Fall Celebration
December 13, 2021
December 13, 2021
By Emalee Gruss Gillis
Photos by Angela Roth
The Conservancy is pleased to announce that the Aster Trail in Waikiki Springs Nature Preserve (WSNP) is open. The Aster Trail is the first of three intersecting loop trails at WSNP and is designated for hikers and mountain bikers. The Aster Trail is just under a half mile long and winds through the granite that makes up Rattlesnake Mountain. At the top of the trail is a viewpoint where visitors can soak in the beauty of nature.
The trail was constructed with 831 hours of volunteer labor donated by over fifty volunteers. Construction was challenging. Rocks the size of kitchen tables had to be moved and volunteers had to dig out large tree roots.
Volunteers gave more than their time. For example, when the crew reached the viewpoint, a married couple who was volunteering said it would be a perfect place for a bench. Without further ado, the couple purchased a bench and presented it to INLC.
The Aster Trail was constructed to give public access to the Nature Preserve. Equally important, the WSNP is a place to protect wildlife and plants. Before any trails were constructed on the land, INLC staff combed the area looking for game trails. Wherever possible, the Aster Trail goes around and does not cross game trails. Beyond the trails, the WSNP provides habitat for many different species of wildlife including porcupine, deer, raccoon, coyote, deer, bear, and moose. During trail building, a volunteer picked up a rock and discovered a western skink—a small lizard with an electric blue tail. It will be very important for visitors to stay on the trail to maximize wildlife habitat safety.
The Aster Trail gets its name from the asters that bloom near the high point of the trail. This year, these asters were blooming and showing off their bright purple and yellow hues to both bees and humans in early November, when most flowers were long past their prime.
Find a map of the Aster trail here. Look for notices in 2022 for the opening of the Granite and Eagle Trails at WSNP.