If you are interested in wildlife, tree and plant identification or hiking, make sure to add PEAR Park (Palatlakaha Environmental and Agricultural Reserve) to your list of places to explore. A couple of weeks ago, I was in Leesburg and decided to make a quick stop in to have a look around. That quick stop turned into a two-hour visit, which seems about the right amount of time to hit the trails and check some things out.
As a kid, I spent a lot of time digging through tree identification guides. I'd find something interesting while in the woods and would sit there trying to figure out what it was. One of the things that gets a gold star from me is the excellent signage on different tree and plant species along the trail. You can really get a handle on the common species in the area with a visit to PEAR Park, and you won't have to bring a guidebook!
The hiking trail borders a narrow section of the Palatlakaha River – look for Dahoon holly, different species of oaks and lots of ferns along the way. Toward the end of the trail, take a left and head through the open areas of the park on your return to the main parking area, stopping at the butterfly garden.
All in all, it's a great park for nature lovers to visit. For the full scoop and maps, check out the PEAR Park page on the Lake County website. Have fun!