Destination: Children's Nature Trail at Cary's Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve
Posted August 3
If you're looking for an outdoor space to cool off with little ones, head over to the Children's Nature Trail at Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve in Cary.
It's not so much of a "trail," in the traditional sense. But here, preschoolers can traipse across a natural area that comes complete with a "log" to crawl through, pads to hop across, their own little nature center with information about animals they might see in the preserve, a natural balance beam, a telescope and pint-sized picnic tables with animals tracks painted along the top. It sits under a tall stand of trees, making for a really shady spot.
The trail opened in 2015, thanks to help from the Friends of Hemlock Bluffs and Laura White, the preserve's former site supervisor, who is still involved on projects there through the friends group. The goal is to offer a fun spot for young children, who might be too little to venture out with family onto one of the preserve's trails.
Morgan Bosse, program specialist at Hemlock Bluffs, said White often saw young children in tears as they finished one of the hikes.
"We didn't want there to be this negative feeling like 'I'm out on the trail forever,'" Bosse said. "It can just be a lot for them. We really wanted to create a safe space and not a playground. We wanted a safe trail for parents and children to interact."
"The community really rallied behind that project," Bosse said. "I can’t think of a day since then where there hasn't been people on it. There’s always somebody there. They are always looking at stuff."
I took my seven-year-old there the other day. She's a bit too old for it, but she enjoyed walking across the balance beam, ducking into the playhouse and reading some of the educational panels.
Bosse said, if you go, be sure to look up in the trees above the space and nearby to see artistic versions of an owl, raccoon and songbirds. You can see some of them through the trail's telescope. Or, you could bring your own binoculars.
For Bosse, the goal is to help kids see that being outside, exploring nature, is fun. A stop at the trail is a great way to start.
"We want people to develop that connection with the wildlife around them and the habitat that's here," she said.
Hemlock Bluffs is at 2616 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary. The trail is designed for kids ages 3 to 5, but I think a toddler would have fun here as well.