Mysterious World Of Mushrooms

Scaly Vase Chanterelle along North Fork Sauk Trail, by Martha Rasmussen

Many people hike the trails in spring and summertime pursuing beautiful wildflowers but in the autumn when the night air takes on a chill and the rains begin the hiking trails transform into one of the most fascinating hikes to explore the mysterious world of mushrooms.  It seems as if over night the forest floor is covered with an array of mushrooms, clinging to the sides of trees and rotting logs, popping out of the rich forest moss or tiny clusters on a single fir cone.

One of the giants of the mushrooms, by Nels Rasmussen

Just like magic they erupt out of the ground sometimes over 1 foot high like this Brown Trich found along the road to White Chuck Ridge.  This stately mushroom will grow for almost 1 month then disappear with hardly a trace.
Bright yellow caps against Dark green moss along the White Chuck Bench Trail, by Shari Brewer

As Autumn is full brilliant colored of leaves in the trees and is well worth a scenic drive on the Mountain Loop Highway to enjoy them, but mushrooms also bring Autumn color.  You'll have to look very closely, some are only a little larger than a pinhead. 

Turkey Tails along the Old Sauk Trail, by Kim Brown

The Turkey Tail mushroom is a polypore with a spongy underside. It likes to grow on the old stumps and logs.  Each mushroom grows out like a colorful fan.  Several polypores last all year and grow each season along their outer edge.
Woody Polypore growing on Red Mountain Trail, by Nels Rasmussen, D.C.

This whimsical polypore is following a tree root as it grows.  This mushroom is several years old, the darker color is old and the whitish color is newer growth.

A large assortment of Coral Mushrooms can be found on Bedal Creek Trail, by Shari Brewer

Mushrooms come in all sorts of colors and shapes, this type of mushroom is called a coral mushroom.  Coral mushrooms can be an array of colors such as white, purple,brown, yellow and even bright pink.

The poisonous Amanita mushroom, by Shari Brewer

Celebrate the rainbow colors of autumn when you explore the mysterious world of mushrooms.  The Amanita mushrooms are the classic fairy tale mushroom you see in story books.  This mushroom is one of the most beautiful and most poisonous in the woods.  The cap of this magnificent mushroom can often be seen from a distance along roads with a cap that can grow up to 10 inches across.

This tiny cluster of mushrooms is about the size of an Alder leaf, by Shari Brewer

Just like so many things growing in the wild many mushrooms as well as wildflowers are poisonous.  Tread lightly on the forest floor and keep a sharp eye for natures mushroom gardens growing in some pretty amazing places such as small fir cones or a single leaf.

 Mushroom in winters first snow on the Boulder River Trail, by Kim Brown 

Mushrooms begin to appear in profusion in September. By mid-November to late November the hard frost will hit the area and winters snow is not far behind.  The mushrooms magically disappear just as once they seemed to appear carpeting the forest floor.