33 pictures where the wild things are

Wishart Park, off Fourth Line, is a smallish park as far as parks go, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in the wildness at its heart.

There are no fences, and little grooming on the trails, yet it feels delightfully friendly and welcoming with the glorious wildness all around.

It’s littered with standing dead wood, widow-makers and fallen trees lay where they fell or were washed in the spring runoff.

The park straddles Root River, which can shrink to a trickle in some places in the height of summer after swelling to a lethal torrent in the spring and loops all over the landscape like some crazy dancer. 

It is crisscrossed with a maze of trails, some of which are almost invisible, others wide and clear. Many are dead ends or loops back onto the clearest main trail.

There is some almost indistinguishable evidence of human visitors to the park. A few broken old lawn chairs can be found and an occasional plastic water bottle but, for the most part, there is little trash.  

Best of all, there are several deeper, calmer pools of cool water along the river close enough to the parking lot for even the youngest would-be swimmers to walk or be carried to.

It is perhaps one of the safest, wildest places to introduce young children to the wonders of raw, naked nature. They can watch tiny minnows darting in the shallows, water spiders skittering along the surface of the water and, if they are very lucky, maybe even catch sight of a frog jumping into one of those pools as they come near it. 

Visit Wishart Park for a charming walk in a natural setting and maybe a dip in a cool river pond on a summer day.

Officially, the loop trail is an easy 1.6 km and can be walked in about half an hour, if you manage to confine yourself to the main trail rather than getting drawn off to discover what new delights might be found on any of the side trails.