With a name dangerously close to The Secret Garden, I was sold on Hidden Lake Gardens before even setting foot on the grounds. With a weekend forecast threatening t-storms and heavy precipitation, A and I ditched our plans of biking through the gardens and left the bikes at home in Chicago. Naturally, come Friday, as luck and BS meteorology would have it, the local weather showed a weekend of sunshine and the mid-60s. I’ll take it.
After enduring what I swear was an uphill-both-ways run Friday morning, I was determined to test out the running paths at Hidden Lake Gardens. The sun was shining, my entire family was at the lake, and there was a plant sale calling my father’s name. The Mulloy clan piled in the car for a good ol’ family field trip.
Looking back on my childhood, family day trips were HUGE for my sister and I. My parents instituted an awesome tradition of weekend “Mystery Trips” where they’d pack us in the car with no clue as to where we were going. It could be anywhere: the zoo, a state park, ice cream sundaes at Dairy Barn, picking out puppies (this legit happened!). Saturday was one big time travel back to my childhood to relieve family day trips, ‘cept this time we’re all adults and alcohol is involved. I’m all about it.
Upon arriving at the gardens, in true Mulloy style, we immediately became members (support your local businesses!). While my sister and parents bee lined to the plant sale, A and I decided to attempt a trail run – a first for both of us. Now, friends, there are paved paths for miles at this place. But screw that, it was sunny, I was doped up on Mucinex (ugh allergies!) and ready to run! I’m usually not the type to bite off more than I can I can chew, except of course when it literally comes to brownies, but I’ll go on a limb here and say that I was in no way mentally prepared for what Pine Tree Trail was about to throw my way. Ten minutes in and I thought I was dead, or dying, or in some weird limbo state that only exists in Nike commercials. Two and a half miles of up, down, around bends, over downed trees, watch don’t trip gasps.
But you know what, I did it. And A did it, which, for some reason, made me feel even more awesome. Six months ago, I would have never, ever thought I’d be making time for a trail run during vacation, let alone challenging myself and keeping up with the boys. But here we are and isn’t life funny. The photo up top is the lone photo from my run, since the rest of the time I was preoccupied with reminding my body to breathe.
Now I suppose it’s time to regale you with Hidden Lake Gardens, as was the original purpose of this post. Located in the Irish Hills of Michigan, just outside Jackson, these gardens are maintained by Michigan State University and boast an impressive array of flora and fauna ranging from an insane hostas hillside to multiple conservatories. Paved paths cut through and around the gardens, making an idyllic spot for a stroll, bike ride, run, or afternoon drive. For the adventuresome, multiple trails varying in difficulty and length are located at the back gardens, offering a deep dive into the canopy of the thick forestry.
After the trail run, A and I met up with my family and we toured around the conservatories. Below are some of my favorite snapshots from the trip. Pretty sure visitors aren’t supposed to crouch around and pose with the 8 foot cactus, but you get what you get when you let the riff raff in…