i always start by looking up trails locally online
this is always a good start because some trails have rules that others do not
some trails allow you to harvest mushrooms and bring your pets
and others (like a lot of trails in nature preserves) do NOT allow you to pick anything or bring your pets. take only pictures, leave only footprints.
some sites will also tell you what the trail is physically made of, like asphalt, dirt, gravel and the difficulty of the trail. this is great since not everyone can enjoy a step, dirt trail.
lots of trails have the amount of miles they run for. i tend to chose trails that loop around to the parking lot, or the original location that i started, this makes me manage my time better.
managing time is key as well, sometimes i get carried away with photographing and i find that i have 15 minutes of daylight and 25 minutes of trail back to the car, so be wary of your time!
STAY ON THE TRAIL, the ecology of your area sometimes depends on it. lots of times you’ll see something really interesting off trail but try to resist the urge!!!
a lot of trails feature a variety of wildflowers and fungi that are specific to that area (prairie, wetlands)
searching for local wildflowers/fungi
so you’ve picked your trail, now you would like to see some beautiful wildflowers and fascinating fungi, where do you start?
first, i take it that you’ve picked a trail specific to the types of plants and fungi you would like to see and it’s the correct time of year for the plants and fungi to be fruiting.
lots of wildflowers are either perennial or re-seeders, which means they drop their seeds in the exact place they are now, and you will likely find them in the same place, the same time next year.
the “timing” tends to be the same and important for fungi as well. there are fungi that fruit in the winter that do not fruit in the summer and vice versa. like if you would like to find a morel, you would look in the spring.
fungi fruits when its humid and hot. if it rains for a nice period of time and the weather is warmer (high 50s, 60s, above) that’s the perfect recipe for fungi to fruit. btw i’m saying fruit because fungi are the fruiting body to the myceilum beneath.
fungi are similar to plants in the way that if you are looking for a specific species it’s good to know what they favor. lots of puffballs mushrooms i come across favor being among pines and pine needles, chaga almost exclusively grows on birch.
fungi are not similar plants in the way that if you harvest fungi, it does not effect the ecosystem as harshly as harvesting a plant. again, fungi is the fruiting body to the myceilum. the best analogy i can use is that you are simply picking the apple from the tree when you harvest fungi and not cutting down the tree when you harvest a plant.
contrary to popular belief, it is safe to hold any mushroom, the only danger of toxicity is when the mushroom is ingested. some mushroom IDing even involves a “taste and spit” method.
even (FULLY COOKED, NEVER RAW) edible mushrooms can sometimes cause discomfort in your body. everyone’s body is different, so if you are trying an edible (FULLY COOKED, NEVER RAW) mushroom for the first time, eat it sparingly.
*bonus* spore printing
if your mycology obsession has grown a great as mine and you start IDing, you’ll find spore printing sometimes is only difference in a species. (also its kind of fun to do!)
you will need: a mushroom, paper (white paper, and a darker color paper are best for contrast but if you only have white, no worries) and a cup that is big enough to cover the entire cap.
first you find a nice mushroom with a nice complete and intact cap, they don’t always have to be nice and complete but it yields better results.
then you snip off the stem rather close to where the cap and the stem start so that when you place the cap on the paper in rests evenly.
some spore prints are white, so that’s why it’s best to have two contrasting colors to spore print on so you can make sure you don’t have any ‘ghost’ spore prints. put the cup (gills side down) on the paper.
then simply place a cup over the cap and make sure it’s evenly on the table and no gaps are between the cup and the paper, if there is any airflow it will disrupt the spores and you won’t get a nice spore sprint
leave the cup and cup beneath for 24 hours and check back to find … a spore print! very cool. spore prints are hard to save because they …. are tiny lil spores and they shift. i sometimes spray the ones i like with hairspray and it preserves them for a little while longer.
Walk in the footsteps of fur traders and the Grand Portage Ojibwe at Grand Portage National Monument, located on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota next to the Canadian border. The 8.5-mile Grand Portage Trail winds through history and beautiful scenery like forests and meadows. After hiking through a downpour, photographer Travis Novitsky says, “The gorgeous sunset over the beaver meadow made it all worthwhile!” Photo courtesy of Travis Novitsky.
Shenandoah National Park in Virginia has some spectacular views, and we want to share them with you! Join us for a Shenandoah Instameet on Saturday, April 23, as part of our National Park Week celebrations. We’ll meet at the Stonyman Trail parking lot at 4:30 pm ET and take pictures while hiking to the viewpoint. Anyone with a camera or camera phone is welcome. We hope to see you there – and be sure to share your photos with us afterwards using #ShenNPS and #FindYourPark!
Photo of a North Marshall Hiker at Shenandoah by National Park Service.