There's a hidden natural area down stream from the campground at Hawn State Park.I'd like to say that I found it, and that it was wonderful, but I never made it there. Too many ticks.
I'd include a link to the natural area (the Lamotte Sandstone Barrens), but it seems to have fallen off the Conservation Department's list of Natural Areas. It was there at one time, and not too long ago, since that's how I found out about it. It sounded like an interesting spot: 80 acres on a dry, mostly south-facing ridge, presumably barren. I imagined lots of pine and bare sandstone, and not much else.
But as I mentioned, there were problems with ticks. There's no trail, so it's strictly a bushwack. For example, this is not a trail:
It's just a gully that water runs down whenever Pickle Creek overflows. The rest of the time, it's tick filled.
The flowers were nice:
But tick-infested. As were the pines, when the brush opened up:
Over the years, I've developed a kind of cost-benefit analysis in regard to chiggers and ticks. It goes like this: are a couple of hours of scenic pleasure worth ten days of itching and scratching? Usually it isn't. So the strategies for avoid bugs are 1) stay on the trail, and 2) when I get off the trail, stay out of the thick brush in creek bottoms. Neither of which worked for me in looking for the Lamotte Sandstone Barrens because 1) there is no trail, and 2) the "handrail" (an orienteering term) to the Barrens is down the creek.
I'm going to try again this winter, after we've had a couple of good, hard frosts, on a very cold day. There's more down Pickle Creek besides the Barrens. I think there's a small shut in, and it looks like it's possible to reach the confluence of Pickle Creek and the River Aux Vases. But I'm going to have to wait for winter's tick-free woods.