Hitting the Trail

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

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Riverwalk Trail (Farmington, New Mexico)

While living in New Mexico last year one of our favorite trails was the Riverwalk in the middle of town. In the high desert rivers provide food and water for a wide variety of creatures and this walk always provided glimpses of wildlife including mule deer, Canada geese, mallards, skunk, a variety of insects, along with signs of beaver and other nocturnal critters such as raccoons. There were always new things to see and explore. The following photos were taken across many walks along the river which we enjoyed in all seasons.

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Some Things to Know

Location: Farmington, New Mexico

Habitat: Riparian and high desert woodlands

Favorite Animal & Plant Life: This area attracts a wide variety of wildlife. With the abundance provided by the river, and access to food from humans, many animals not only come to visit but stay year-round. Mule deer can be seen daily, along with Canada geese, mallards, and a great variety of small birds and birds of prey. It is a treat to see a heron on the river or flying overhead. In the summer months the river is teeming with fish, crayfish, and aquatic insect life such as dragonfly nymphs.

Special Features: There is an extensive trail system the weaves along the river and through the surrounding woodlands. The system includes two foot bridges that cross the river and  provide a wonderful vantage point for watching the water and wildlife such as mallards and geese. There is also a wonderful nature center and an amazing xeriscape garden at one end of the trail. (We will share more about the garden and nature center soon.)

Best Time of Year to Visit: This trail is easily walked year-round. While it does snow in this area it usually does not stick around for long and the trails do not get very icy. The fall is particularly beautiful with the cottonwoods putting on a blazing yellow display as they change for the season, but the summer holds the possibilities of river exploration and swimming.

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Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

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Long Sault Conservation Area (Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada)

Kim is here again today to share a beautiful hike her family took in a wonderful conservation area. They encountered a wide variety of birds and spotted lots of animal tracks in the snow. This hike provides ample inspiration to get out and take in all that winter has left to give.

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Location: Long Sault Conservation Area Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada

Habitat: 400 hectares of mature forest, plantation, wetland and meadow

Favourite Plant and Animal Life: A variety of birds including blue jays, hairy woodpeckers, chickadees and red breasted nuthatches. Deer and cotton tail rabbit tracks in abundance. Plant life is still visible in the winter including fungi covered in snow, leaves left hanging on the trees, waiting for the spring breezes to blow them gently to the ground and trees, pine, birch, fir, ash, maple and spruce.

Special Features: Very important area for wildlife due to the diversity and size of the conservation area. There are 18km of marked trails ranging in difficultly. And if you take just a little jaunt off trail you come to the most beautiful look out spot, with views of Lake Ontario.

Best Time of Year to Visit: This conservation area is open year round. If you are a summer hiker, looking for wild plants and a good hike, summer is the time to visit. If you enjoy cross country skiing or a little snowshoeing, stop by in the winter. Whatever the season you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks for sharing your wonderful hike with us, Kim!

 

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Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

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Edisto Island (South Carolina)

This week we are happy to welcome back Shelli, author of Mama of Letters and senior editor at home | school | life magazine. She and her family had wonderful time on Edisto Island exploring the beaches and taking in an amazing variety of wildlife.

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Some Things to Know

Location: Edisto Island, South Carolina is located about 1-hour driving distance south of Charleston, South Carolina.

Habitat: Coastal Island off the coast of South Carolina. Salt marsh and beach habitat.

Favorite Animal & Plant Life: Hundreds of aquatic animals and birds live in this area. Mammals like deer and bobcat live here too. While we were there, we saw alligator and blue heron near our condo. On the beach we found starfish and horseshoe crab and many shells. I also saw a dolphin pop out of the water!

Special Features: Edisto Island is quiet and does not have a lot of commercialism. There are very few restaurants or stores. There’s only one small grocery store on the island. It’s best to bring your food because prices are high. But it’s a beautiful island with a lovely beach and places to explore, especially if you want to get away from it all! There is a neat bookstore, a museum and a farmer’s market, which is open during part of the year. Charleston is only an hour away and makes a fun day trip.

Best Time of Year to Visit: From May – September the loggerhead sea turtles are nesting. It’s my dream to go back and watch either a mother nesting or baby turtles hatching!

A big thank you to Shelli for sharing her beautiful trip!

If you have a trail, beach, nature center, or museum you would like to share here on Mud Puddles please let us know by emailing us at kidsandnature@gmail.com.

Thanks!

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We are excited to welcome Kim, from Mothering with Mindfulness, this week! We reached out to Kim to share as Dawn makes the transition into her new home in Nova Scotia, and Annie starts her first full week back in the classroom. We were delighted when Kim offered to share a wonderful hike, a neat natural feature they observed, and a super fun project; all coming up this week! Much thanks to Kim!

Lets kick it all off with a Hitting the Trail post!

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

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Lynde Shores Conservation Area (Ontario, Canada)

Kim and her family spotted a wide variety of birds on this beautiful winter hike, and even had the chance to feed chickadee’s right out of the palm of their hand. Here is a look at their snowy walk on the north shore of Lake Ontario.

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Location: Lynde Shores Conservation Area, Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Habitat: 272-hectares of mature forest, wetland and meadow, located on the north shore of Lake Ontario

Favourite Plant and Animal Life: A variety of birds including blue jays, cardinals, red tailed hawks, brown thrushes, red bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, wild turkeys, chickadees and white breasted nuthatches. Deer and cotton tail rabbit tracks in abundance. Plant life is still visible in the winter including fungi covered in snow, many fallen trees due to early winter ice storm, lots of nibbled branches on low shrubs and fallen trees by cotton tail rabbits.

Special Features: Located on the north shore of Lake Ontario this is a very important stop over site for birds during migratory season. The wetlands have been designated as provincially significant and are part of a long term study of a costal wetland monitoring project. The Chickadee trail provides visitors with the opportunity to feed chickadees right from the palm of your hand. And in the summer chipmunks will also stop for a little nibble from your hand.

Best Time of Year to Visit: This conservation area is open year round, and really each season offers many wonderful opportunities to connect to Mother Nature.

Thank you for sharing, Kim!

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Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

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Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park (PEI, Canada)

This week we welcome Alex, of Life on a Canadian Island, sharing their walk at Prince Edward Island National Park. The trail took them through amazing coastal dune system, red sand beaches, and beautiful wetlands. Thank you, Alex, for sharing a peek at the gorgeous coast of PEI this week.

 

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Some Things to Know

 

Location: Greenwich, Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Greenwich is part of the Prince Edward Island National Park, but it is a little further away from Charlottetown. It is about a 45 minute drive through beautiful countryside.

 

Habitat: Coastal dune system, wetlands, and other natural habitats home to rare plant species. Large and mobile parabolic dunes, very rare in North America.

 

Special Features: There are several trails. Each has information boards through to learn more about this area of land, how it was used, and the flora and natural habitats.

 

On the Greenwich Dunes Trail, there are “grey dunes” which are more inland dunes and lichens are able to grow on these. They erode more slowly than regular sand dunes, because of the lichens. The same trail also has a long floating boardwalk over Bowley Pond. Towards the end of the trail and right before the beach and ocean, the parabolic dunes are an amazing site to see.

 

Best time of year to visit: The best time of the year to visit would be in the summer months, anytime between June and September,

 

We will have Alex back on Thursday to share about their geocaching adventures and a few tips for getting started in creating a geocache adventure with your family. Be sure to check back!

 

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Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

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Sabino Canyon (Tucson, Arizona)

This week we welcome KC, of Olive and Owl, sharing a walk in Sabino Canyon at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson, Arizona. This walk took them from arid desert with cacti and other desert vegetation, to the riparian zone filled with cottonwoods, willows, and other lush trees. Many thanks to KC for sharing this beautiful and diverse hike.

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Some Things to Know

Location: Sabino Canyon is nestled at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson, Arizona.

Website: http://www.sabinocanyon.com/

Habitat: This hike is very special, as it starts in the arid sonoran desert and proceeds back into the canyon and becomes a riparian zone. Along the way you will see Saguaro cacti, prickly pear, palo verde trees, and all of the rest of the prickly desert vegetation. Once inside the canyon the vegetation changes to softer things like cottonwood trees, oaks, willows and even the Arizona Black walnut.  The hike meanders on a paved path along sabino creek.

Wild Life: The wildlife sightings here are really fantastic due to the mild climate all year round. You can see lizards, rattlesnakes, cottontail rabbits, road runners, bobcats, mountain lions, hawks, vultures, white tail deer and coyotes just to name a few.

When to visit: The best time to visit Sabino Canyon is between October and May. These months are really lovely with warm days and cool nights. The summer months however can be ragging hot: you would have to limit your hike to the early morning hours.

Other notes: There is a visitor center at the beginning of the trail with a parking lot. It costs $5 to park all day. There are bathrooms and picnic tables along the trail as well as a shuttle that goes all the way to the back of the canyon where you can get off and then continue hiking to Seven Falls. Pets are not allowed.

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Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

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New England Aquarium (Boston, Massachusetts)

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To view a quick video of one of the star’s of the aquarium, the giant sea turtle, click here.

Some Things to Know

Location: The aquarium is located on the Boston Harbor, in downtown Boston, Massachusetts.

Website: New England Aquarium

Favorite Exhibits: There are a couple of great features at this aquarium, but our family tends to particularly like visiting the penguins (there are multiple varieties scattered throughout the first floor of the building) and the giant coral reef display, a cylindrical enclosure that goes the entire height of the building and can be viewed on each floor as you move up through the other exhibits.

Special Features: The aquarium also offers whale watching tours seasonally, and word on the street is that the odds of seeing a whale are pretty high. So much so that visitors receive a free ticket to try again if a whale doesn’t appear on during their tour.

Best time of year to visit: The aquarium is open year round, but weekends, vacation days, and summer afternoons can be almost unmanageably busy. Shoot for an arrival around opening, or visit during the off season, to get the most out of your trip.

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Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

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Halifax Museum of Natural History (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

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Some Things to Know

Location: The museum is located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in the middle of the city just down the street from the beautiful Halifax Public Gardens.

Website: Halifax Museum of Natural History

Favorite Exhibits: While there are wonderful mammal, bird, gem, and archeological exhibits, the ocean life hall, with its life-size models, tide pool tank, and detailed displays is a favorite. The lab is another favorite spot with many live animals for the kids to observe. (And the staff are great about answering their many, many questions about the creatures living at the museum.) Science on a sphere is another well loved display with its dark hall and ever changing glowing globe filled with amazing images of our changing world.

Special Features: The museum has one hall dedicated to changing exhibits; some favorites have been the mammoths, all about salt, and a visit from Sue the T-Rex.

Best time of year to visit: The museum is open year-round. Check the website for information regarding current exhibits.

 

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Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

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Marco Island (Florida)

This week Tim is sharing his trip to Florida and the amazing wildlife he encountered there. We are truly bird lovers here at Mud Puddles, so Tim’s photos of the winged wildlife were especially favorites. We are excited to have his beautiful photography and wonderful descriptions of the area here on the blog.

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Some Things to Know

Location: Marco Island, Florida

Habitat: Beach, Tidal Lagoons, and Mangroves

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: Though Marco Island is packed with beach-side resorts, there’s still quite a bit of wildlife to be found on the beach. On the northwestern edge of the island, tidal lagoons at Tigertail Beach attract a large variety of wintering birds, making it a premiere birding destination at low tide. Snowy Egrets, White Ibises, Royal Terns, Red Knots, and a variety of gulls can all be found along the beach. There’s also a large flock of Black Skimmers that reliably appear on the beach each day during winter.

Special Features: Marco Island is a heavily developed resort and condo-living destination in Florida. It’s located on the Gulf side of Florida about an hour south of Naples and is known as a premiere destination to find seashells. Just a few miles south of Marco Island, the march of human development stops and the wild of the Everglades begins – and if you’re this close to the Everglades, you really need to take in their beauty. Visit Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Big Cypress State Park, or Everglades National Park to witness this vast and complex ecosystem in action.

Best Time of Year to Visit: Debatable. The “snowbirds” (wintering northerners) arrive en masse to southern Florida in October and don’t depart until April, swelling the local population and making traffic a lot worse. But winter is still a great time to visit because you get to enjoy fantastic weather and a lot of wintering birds. Insects (particularly the no-see-ums) can be atrocious in the summer months, particularly at dawn and dusk.

Thanks for sharing, Tim!

To see more of Tim’s amazing work visit his website, Tim Street Photo & Design or his Flickr photostream!

 

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Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

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Last summer we took the very narrow road through the mountain passes to reach Grand Junction, Colorado and the Colorado National Monument. It was worth every hair raising turn of the road to see this stunning spot.

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Some Things to Know

Location: Colorado National Monument, just outside of Grand Junction, Colorado.

Habitat: Simi-desert on the Colorado Plateau

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: The pinion and juniper trees were neat to investigate with their unique cones and berries, but the lizards stole the show. There were a variety of lizards spotted along the trail and each time one was seen scampering across our path, or simple sunning itself on the ledge of a rock, it was as if we had seen a celebrity.

Special Features: The most special feature of this location is the geology. Whether hiking or diving the rim road, each turn leads to amazing views of sandstone carved with wind and water to create stunning geologic features. Another unique aspect of this area is the very fragile biological soil crusts, which are extremely slow growing and develop when moss, lichen, green algae, cyanobacteria, and microfungi grow together; in the process they hold sand in place allowing for other plant life to take hold.

Best Time of Year to Visit: The monument and one of the campgrounds is open year-round. While it gets very hot in the summer and cold in the winter this location would be amazing to see any time of year.

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