I had been hearing about a local trail network for a few years before my family and I finally decided to go explore them. They are located on a nature preserve just ten minutes from our home. We drive by the area on a regular basis yet had no idea what it was like. When we arrived and ventured along one of the trails we were amazed. Amazed that there is such a different world so close to us. Amazed at the variety of nature that exists there. Amazed that it had taken us so long to explore it!
This got me thinking about what other local areas there might be that we don’t know about. And this set me on a mission: discover, locate and explore new-to-us nature sites. My goal is to visit a different location every couple of weeks and summer time seems a perfect time to get started!
I also got to thinking that perhaps there are others, like my family and I, that love nature and exploring the outdoors but that might not be aware of all the nature sites in their area. There are well-publicized areas and hidden gems. Groomed, marked trails and “I’m not sure we’re still on the path” trails. Public gardens and tours of private ones. State parks and local farms.
Whatever type of habitat you are looking for and whatever activity you want to do, there are lots of resources to help you find new nature sites. Here are some suggestions to get you off to a good start…
- Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry
- Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
- Natural Resources Council
- Huts and Trails Associations
- State Tourism Office (ours has a fabulous, informative site)
And my favorite resource of all – Ask a local! Long-term residents are usually knowledgeable of little-known spots. Don’t be afraid to ask. I learned about a great sledding spot from my children’s pediatrician (which also has trails to walk during spring/summer) and just recently learned about a nearby pond that’s great for swimming from a another parent during our children’s swim lesson. In talking to farmers at a local farmer’s market, we learned that some farms welcome visitors (one even has a variety of ecosystems like a wetland, meadow, and woods) and my husband heard about some great fishing spots from a co-worker.
Will you join us in exploring new-to-us nature sites? We have our “wish list” made out and have hung it where we can see it. You could use our Nature Areas to Explore to write out your family’s wish-list of nature sites to explore and pages to record your explorations. Have fun and let us know how it goes!
Have a wonder-filled weekend. We’re off to explore a local arboretum…