This time of year, I get homesick for the Northeast. The leaves change, temperatures start to drop, and my heart longs for my hometown. So, this Fall, I’ve decided to discover my new hometown through my children’s eyes and start creating wonderful memories for them.

My number one Fall Bucket List item this month is to walk in the woods. There’s something so soothing and serene about the forest. It’s cooler, darker, more peaceful, and just a little magical. If you haven’t already, add “Take a Nature Walk” to your Fall Bucket List.

IMG_4366

Locations:

If you live in Charlotte, there are a multitude of greenways, parks, and nature preserves as well as the US National Whitewater Center and Crowder’s Mountain, all within thirty minutes to an hour of your front door.

Our favorites:

McDowell Nature Preserve – With over 1,000 acres of land including 7 miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, and access to LakeWylie, McDowell is a beautiful spot in west Charlotte off of 49. Along with Reedy Creek, Latta Plantation, and Freedom Park, McDowell also has a Nature Center which is a wonderful spot to take the kiddos.

IMG_4438

IMG_4440Andrew Jackson State Park – If you keep driving south on Johnston Rd. (521), you’ll eventually run into Andrew Jackson State Park. We have been to the park a couple of times, walked around the lake, and played by the old school house. Also in Lancaster, SC, is Landsford Canal which we hope to check out soon.

Squirrel Lake Park and the Six Mile Creek Greenway – This greenway runs through Matthews with a stop in Squirrel Lake Park. The park has a pretty pond with some short walking trails, and a fun playground. We love it so much we had our son’s birthday party at the park!

Colonel Francis Beatty Park – Beatty Park has tons of trails to walk and bike, a lake with geese and ducks, and a great, shaded playground.

Upcoming places for us to check out (see map):

Nature Preserves

  1. Reedy Creek Nature PreserveTrailsCharlotte
  2. Ribbon Walk Nature Preserve
  3. River Park in Rock Hill, SC
  4. US National Whitewater Center
  5. McDowell Nature Preserve
  6. Andrew Jackson State Park
  7. Landsford Canal State Park
  8. Crowders Mountain State Park

Greenways and Parks

  1. Mallard Creek Greenway
  2. Lower McAlpine Creek, McMullen Creek, and Four Mile Creek Greenways
  3. Briar Creek Greenway
  4. Irwin Creek Greenway
  5. Little Sugar Creek Greenway and FreedomPark
  6. McAlpine Creek Greenway
  7. Six Mile Creek Greenway
  8. Squirrel Lake Park and Six Mile Creek Greenway
  9. Colonel Francis Beatty Park
  10. Latta Plantation Park

8 Fun Nature Walk Activities  

1. Do a scavenger hunt. Make a checklist of items to find (leaves, a tree with a face on it, a frog, etc). Check off the items as you find them.

2. Pack a picnic. This is self-explanatory but one of our favorite things to do after we take a nice long walk.

3. Collect things. You can find leaves, rocks, etc to collect, sort, and discuss. This is a great way to learn about features.

4. Take pictures. Let you child be the photographer or enjoy taking snapshots of your family. You never know what they’ll notice that you don’t see.

DSC_0198

5. Play I-Spy. Use animals, plants, the sky, whatever is nearby. We like to bring empty toilet paper rolls (our “I-Spies”) and use them like binoculars to play.

6. Check out the wildlife. Many of the parks have ducks, geese, turtles, frogs, insects and more. Can you see who is hiding in our photo?

7. Find a nature center. My son loves the nature centers (and so do I). Many of the preserves have small centers devoted to the animals at the park.

8. Observe and draw. Bring a pencil or crayons and a notebook and draw what you see.

Don’t Forget…

  • Dress appropriately. Sneakers, bug repellant, sunscreen… you know the drill.DSC_0195
  • Bring the right equipment. We have a hiking backpack and a front carrier for the boys that we can use as needed.
  • Bring tools for the kids. Cameras, maps, I-spies, etc.
  • Bring food. Even if you aren’t planning a picnic, make sure to have water bottles and snacks.
  • The family dog. But always make sure to check to see if pets are allowed.
  • Have fun!!

**This post is dedicated to my mom who always inspired our love of life’s simple pleasures, especially walking through the woods. Thank you, mom for always taking the time to show us the beauty around us. **