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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Victoria Park (Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada)

We recently went camping and attended the Nova Scotia Bluegrass Festival in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia. While the intent of the trip was to listen to a whole lot of great bluegrass music (which we did), we also wanted to explore some nature while we were there. One place we had heard a lot of amazing things about, and really wanted to see, was just minutes from where we were camped. One evening the kids and I took off to Victoria Park to see just what all the fuss was about and we were not disappointed. We traveled through town, parked next to the play structures and band stand, walked across a wide expanse of manicured grass to the forest – then found ourselves entering a magical land as we wondered the wooded paths, stairways, and trails. This is a spot we will return to again and again.

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Some Interesting Things to Know

Location: Victoria Park, in the heart of Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada

Habitat: 400 acres of mixed woodland forest and gorge with riparian zones

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: We spotted many squirrels and birds during our visit. (One local birder has submitted a list of almost 50 birds they have identified in the park.) There were many wildflowers blooming along the waterways, and the first mushrooms were starting to pop up along the wooded trails. We even spotted some indian pipe growing on a slope – it is always exciting to see this unique plant.

Special Features: This park features two wonderful waterfalls accessible by well maintained trails. You can also find many beautiful wooden walkways, wells, a covered bridge extending over the gorge, and the amazing 175- step Jacob’s Ladder, which takes you right up a steep slope to enjoy stunning views. There are also neat geologic features in the gorge and along the trails.

Best Time to Visit: We have only been in summer, but I imagine the falls would be stunning in spring when the snow starts to melt and in fall with the mix forest changing and giving a beautiful display of fall colors.

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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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Rhossili Beach and South Gower Coast (Wales)

This week we are welcoming Lisa, who is sharing wonderful spot in Wales. Not only did Lisa and her family have the chance to take in some amazing views, but they also had some great close encounters with wonderful nature finds!

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Some interesting things to know:
Location: Rhossili Beach and South Gower Coast, Gower Peninsula, near Swansea, Wales
Habitat: Beach and lowland heath
Favorite Plant and Animal Life: We were delighted to find Six-Spot Burnet Moths and their pupal cases, crab moults, sea urchin tests and cuttle fish bones. Gulls and gannets circle overhead. The downs are home to the rare black bog ant, yellow whitlow grass and one of my favorite endangered birds, the chough.
Special Features: Although you might want to head straight for the unspoilt 3 mile beach, it’s work delaying the beach in favour of a hike. After a short but stiff climb, walk along the Rhossili Downs, the highest point on the Gower Peninsula rewards hikers with views of Welsh mountain ponies, the Devon coastline, Lundy Island and West Wales. Towards the end of the hike, experience a bit of World War II history by taking in the remains of a hill-side radar station. Once at the beach, at low tide you might see the remains of the Helvetia, shipwrecked in 1887. You can take a walk toward the tidal island of Worm’s Head and see if you can spot the local colony of grey seals and finish off with a locally-made scoop of ice cream in one of the small local shops.
Best time to visit: Rhossili can be very busy in the summer with busloads of tourists disembarking in the large car park. Escape the crowds by walking along the downs, visiting early in the morning or later in the evening or bringing your kite for a springtime or autumn adventure on the beach.

Thank you for sharing your amazing time along the shore, Lisa!

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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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Bisti Wilderness (New Mexico)

Today we are traveling to New Mexico to visit the Bisti Wilderness, one part of the larger Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness. It is a stunning landscape that while barren on the surface, is filled with fascinating geology and hardy wildlife.

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Some Interesting Things to Know

Location: Bisti Wilderness is south of Farmington, New Mexico

Habitat: Badlands that were once part of a wetland delta near an ancient sea.

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: Ants and a few birds flying overhead were the only forms of wildlife we saw on our visit, but cotton tail rabbit, coyote and prairie dogs live there, along with a variety of birds, reptiles and insects.

Special Features: The rock formations are clearly the most visible feature and provide a wonderful look at the geologic layers that make up the history of the region. Upon closer inspection one can find fossils, petrified wood, and a variety of other rocks.

Best Time to Visit: Spring, early summer, and fall are the best times to visit. The high heat of summer would not make a pleasant visit, and the road can become impassible in the winter.

Happy Canada Day to our Canadian friends! 

Click here for a peek at some beautiful parts of Canada we have shared here on the blog.

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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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Cat Creek (Alberta, Canada)

This week we welcome back Krista, who is sharing a stunning spot, Cat Creek in Alberta, Canada, where there were many amazing wildflowers, vistas, and wild creatures to observe.

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Location: Cat Creek, Highwood area of Kananaskis country, Alberta, Canada

Habitat: montane meadow, subalpine forest, and subalpine wetland and canyon

Favorite plant and animal life: In mid-July, wildflowers in the Canadian Rockies are at their blooming peak and I was lucky enough to see more wildflowers than I could photograph. I did photograph my favourites: western wood lily, mountain harebells, Indian paintbrush, mountain avens, and wild lupine. Whenever I visit this part of the country, I never fail to spot an abundance of wild animals: big horn sheep, mountain goats, elk, and a few black bears.

Special features: Cat Creek Trail is a 3.5 km interpretive trail that winds through mountain meadows, subalpine forest, and along cat creek to a gap in a walled basin giving rise to a beautiful little waterfall. There are also amazing views of the mountains peaks of the Great Divide.

Best time of year to visit: Definitely mid summer with the glorious display of wildflowers and abundant wild animals to spot.

Thank you for sharing, Krista!

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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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Hemlock Ravine Park (Nova Scotia, Canada)

Today we are traveling to Hemlock Ravine Park in Nova Scotia. Trekking in this amazing urban park is like stepping off the highway into a magical forest. While the city is only moments away it is easy to feel as if one could get lost in this park, knowing full well that if you walked just a short distance in any one direction you would bump into dwellings or a road. It is a treasure not to be missed when visiting Halifax.

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Some Things to Know

Location: Hemlock Ravine Park is located in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (More information can be found here, and a map of the trail system here.)

Habitat: Woodland with streams and ponds.

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: A wide variety of wildflowers, berries, and fungi can be found along the trail starting in late spring through the fall. Many bird species can be found in the park, including ducks in the heart shaped pond at the entrance to the park, and the occasional squirrel can be heard chattering from the treetops.

Special Features: The park was once part of the country estate for the Duke of Kent. While the trail system is surrounded by development now, once on the well maintained trails it feels as if you are miles away from civilization. At the entrance of the park is a lovely heart shaped pond with a trail that leads around then off into the forest.

Best Time of Year to Visit: Late spring through early winter are the best times to visit. While the trails are still accessible during the winter, they are not maintained and can be very icy at times.

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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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Riverside Nature Center (Farmington, New Mexico)

The Riverside Nature Center provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about the wildlife of the high desert and the riparian zone that surrounds the center. The staff are helpful and knowledgable, leading nature walks and always taking the time to talk with visitors about what they have been spotting in the area, along with answering the many questions the kids had about what they had seen out on our walks around the grounds and along the nearby river.

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Some Things to Know

Location: Riverside Nature Center in Farmington, New Mexico

Habitat: Riparian and high desert woodlands.

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: Wildlife ranging from mule deer to skunk, waterfowl to song birds, frequent the nature center grounds. The towering cottonwood trees and russian olive trees are favorites in the area surrounding the nature center. There are also dragonflies to be seen darting around the large pond.

Special Features: The center holds classes for both children and adults, along with regularly scheduled nature walks and lunches in the viewing room. There is a book shop featuring local guides and a wide range of nature inspired books. Exhibits in the center include both permeant displays and seasonal exhibitions of local nature art, photography, and informational displays.

Best Time of Year to Visit: The center is open year-round and offers a great viewing area with large windows to watch wildlife in the comfort of the indoors. (A welcome escape from the high heat of summer and the biting cold of winter.)

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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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The Bay Look Out Provincial Park is much like Nova Scotia itself, it packs a whole lot of nature into a little spot! Driving into this unassuming park you are greeted with small grassy meadows lined with berry patches and wildflowers. After a walk through covered forest trails there are wonderful views of St. Margaret’s Bay, along with a small swimming beach and access to a beautiful wetland at low tide.

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Some Things to Know

Location: The Bay Look Out Provincial Park, Boutiliers Point, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Habitat: Forest, meadows, rocky and sandy shoreline, and wetland.

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: In the forest squirrels made there presence known with their customary chatter and signs they had been nibbling on spruce cones scattered about. Along the sandy beach many types of shells and seaweed were available for exploration. The wetland is frequented by blue heron, Mallard ducks and other migratory birds, which makes it a wonderful spot to sit and do a little bird watching.

Special Features: The park also has a fishing wharf that is perfect for taking even the youngest fisher folk out to cast a line.

Best Time of Year to Visit: While the park has something to offer in all seasons, spring, summer, and fall are the best times to visit.

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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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Today we welcome Tara, from Periwinkles and Pine, who is sharing a trip she took with her son, and their homeschool group, to Vaughan Woods in Hallowell, Maine. They took a nice hike on the trails leading through the mixed woodlands and splashed around in the waterfalls in the area.

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Some Things to Know

Location: Vaughan Woods in Hallowell, Maine, a 240 acre recreational area maintained by the Vaughan family who settled the propery in 1794.

Habitat: Mixed woodland, with grassy meadows and riparian zones.

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: There was a wonderful old oak tree at the beginning of the trail, lots of pine trees and pinecones, and a very healthy swath of ferns. The kids saw some squirrels, bees and spiders while we were hiking as well. We could hear a variety of birds twittering away too, keeping up the rhythm with our walking pace.

Special Features: There are wide, well groomed trails, stone bridges, and beautiful waterfalls. The kids were free to climb on the rocks and cool off in the stream near the waterfall.

Best Time of Year to Visit: We enjoyed a wonderful early spring day in the woods (dispite the black flies) but the area also offers cross-country skiing and snow shoeing in the winter.

Thank you, Tara, for sharing your beautiful hike.

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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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While it is always fun to take a road-trip to a special park or trail, this week we hit the trail close to home – right out the front door. Whether you live out in the country, in the big city, or somewhere in between, there are so many ways to find nature right out your front (or back) door. Beyond what may be in your own yard there are vacant city lots, parks, the yards of neighbors, and even cracks in the sidewalk that can provide great opportunities to find little bits of nature.

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Some Things to Know

Location: Right out the front door.

Habitat: An endless variety depending on location.

Favorite Plant & Animal Life: A seemingly never ending assortment of insects, birds and plant life.

Special Features: Because of the convenient location it is fun to watch as spots change over the seasons and learn about the plants and creatures that share the neighborhood.

Best Time of Year to Visit: Year-round!

What have you been spotting right out your front door?

 

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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 Public Gardens (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

Today we have a little sneak peek at summer with a trip to the Halifax Public Gardens. The public gardens have been a favorite spot in the city for many years. With large greenhouses to support the continued growth of plants to nurture in the gardens it always seems the grounds are one step ahead of any other spot in the city. From the first glimpse of spring blooms in May to the full blown riot of color in the summer, all the way to fall when the leaves begin to change and put on their own colorful display, there is always something beautiful to see at the gardens.

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Some Interesting Things to Know

Location: The Halifax Public Gardens are located in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia (just down the street from the Museum of Natural History).

Habitat: Victorian style ornemental gardens with ponds, small brooks, and walking paths.

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: The public garden ducks are a favorite along with the resident geese. (A favorite picture book about the gardens called Gracie the Public Gardens Duck.) The dahlia display, with each flower labeled is another favorite destination within the garden come summer. It is always amazing to see the size, color, and variety of dahlias on display.

Special Features: The Halifax Public Gardens are a jewel within the city. Established in 1836 the garden covers 16 acres in the heart of the city. In 1984 the gardens became a National Historic Site and are seen as, “One of the finest surviving examples of Victorian Gardens in North America.” The kids are particularly attracted to the various fountains throughout the gardens – most of which are over 100 years old. There is also a coffee and ice cream shop in Horticulture Hall on the garden grounds. (This is a popular stop with every member of the family.) In the summer there are concerts at the bandstand and there is also a picnic area where people often gather to soak up the sun and enjoy the gardens.

There is a great video on this site about how the plants are propagated for the floral bed displays.

Best Time of Year to Visit: The gardens are open from May to November each year. The gardens are delightful to visit any time during the open season and while summer provides a riot of color, the bulbs of spring are a welcome sight, which places the gardens high on the list of places to visit in spring!

The photos above were taken in August while the gardens were in full bloom.

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