fbpx

Crow’s Nest Preserve: cool hikes

October 21, 2020

the Beech Woods

how to get there:

  • Take the Yellow Trail from the bottom of the parking lot to where it splits with the Red Trail near the bottom of the meadow. Turn LEFT onto the Red Trail.
  • Follow the Red Trail through the woods until it takes you out to Harmonyville Road. Turn RIGHT onto Harmonyville Rd.
  • Cross the creek on the Harmonyville Road bridge.
  • Just up the road from the bridge, turn LEFT onto the gravel driveway. Continue following the driveway—please stay on the grass, as cars do come in and out this driveway and there are some blind curves. (You may notice that the Red Trail turns and goes up the hill partway up the driveway. You can take it if you like, but if your goal is to get to the Beech Woods quickly, the route we’re sending you on is a special nature club shortcut!)
  • Follow the driveway around the barn and to the house. Look for a farm lane leading from the right of the house; follow that farm lane.
  • The farm lane will take you over a small hill and along the edge of a field. Follow the lane until you see a small wooden footbridge on the LEFT, leading you into the woods. (This will put you back on the Red Trail.)
  • Follow the trail through the woods. When you come to a point where the trail turns sharply to the right along a small creek bed, you’ve arrived at the section of the woods we call the Beech Woods! You can explore the woods and play there.

what to do there:

There’s lots to do in the Beech Woods. Small streams run through the woods, so you can wade a little in them, or hunt for critters. There’s also lots of rocks, so you can climb around on them or see how many steps you can take without having to step on the ground. The forest provides lots of sticks for making stick houses (you’ll probably find a few already started) and the Beech Woods is a great place to play Hide and Seek!

Nature Spotlight: identifying trees by bark

Photo: Molly Smyrl

American beech

Photo: Molly Smyrl

shagbark hickory

Most people find it easiest to identify trees by their leaves. It’s much easier to learn leaf shapes, which vary greatly, than it is to learn the smaller variations in bark type that can let you learn to ID trees by their bark.

However, there are a few trees that are easy to identify by their bark…in fact, for some trees it’s actually easier to recognize them by their bark than by their leaves! Two of these trees are present in these woods: American Beech and Shagbark Hickory.

American Beech has smooth, gray bark even when the tree is old. Once you learn to recognize this bark and start looking around the forest, you’ll figure out why we call these woods “the Beech Woods” pretty quickly!

Shagbark Hickory, as the name suggests, has bark that hang off the tree in large strips, making the tree look shaggy.

the Nature Playground and Swimming Hole

how to get there:

If you’ve made it to the Visitor’s Center, you’re basically at the Natural Playground already! The Natural Playground is located throughout the woods below the Visitor’s Center. There are paths leading into the Playground off the main walkway from the parking lot to the Visitors Center, and in the bottom right hand corner of the lawn (if you are standing with your back to the Visitor’s Center, looking down the hill.)

what to do there:

There are a variety of different activity options scattered throughout the woods…plus you can do whatever woods-based activities you can think of!

  • The Stump Playground – jump from stump to stump, or turn them over to see what creepy-crawlies are living underneath.
  • The Dirt Pile – dig and build in the dirt. Please pull the tarp back over the pile before leaving.
  • Tic-Tac-Toe – Smooth rocks vs. rough rocks, on our stump tic-tac-toe board!
  • The Climbing House – Climb up to enjoy the view, or set up shop in the lower section. You can also jump off the lower side the upper level if you’re feeling daring.
  • Stick houses – play in the existing stick houses, or build one of your own!
  • The Fairy Village – build small houses for fairies, gnomes, or other forest residents (magical or not.)
  • The Paths – go exploring along the network of paths that wind through the woods (marked on the map with red dashes)
  • The Creek – go wading, play in the mud, build sandcastles! There’s always lots to do in the creek. (Warning to parents: letting your children go in the creek just a little will end up with them being completely soaked, so be prepared! Also, a tree fell across the creek this summer that is covered in poison ivy, so don’t let anyone climb around on a fallen log until we’ve had a chance to clean that up.)

Nature Spotlight: jewelweed

One plants that grows commonly along the creek edge and in other wet areas is jewelweed. The easiest way to identify jewelweed is by its flowers (in the summer). We have two different species here, one with orange flowers and one with yellow. Once you find the plant, pick a leaf and hold it just under the surface of the creek to see why the kids refer to this as “The Magic Leaf.” Another fun thing to do is to look for the seedpods—when they’re fully developed (look for nice fat ones) the pods will burst open at the slightest touch, sending the seeds flying! (This is where the plant gets its other common name, “Touch-me-not.”)

the Wire Bridge

how to get there:

  • Take the Yellow Trail from the bottom of the parking lot to where it splits with the Red Trail near the bottom of the meadow. Turn LEFT onto the Red Trail.
  • Follow the Red Trail through the woods until it takes you out to Harmonyville Road. Turn RIGHT onto Harmonyville Rd.
  • Cross the creek on the Harmonyville Road bridge.
  • Just after the bridge, turn RIGHT onto the farm lane that runs along the bottom edge of the farm field.
  • Follow the lane along the bottom edge of the farm field until you reach the Natural Play Area at the back corner of the field. (Roughly where the red star is on the map.)
  • To get to the Wire Bridge, look for a trail going into the woods on the right of the Natural Play Area.

what to do there:

  • Play in the Nature Playground
    • Jump on the stumps
    • Balance on the balance beam
    • Play Tic-Tac-Toe
    • Explore the trails through the woods on the hill above the Nature Playground
  • Play at the Wire Bridge
    • Wade in the creek
    • Build a dam (or, if there’s dam already built, deconstruct it so that the next people can make it again)
    • Play in the sandbars
    • Play in the mud
    • Go back and forth across the Wire Bridge
    • Explore the paths on the hill on the other side of the creek.

Nature Spotlight: pokeweed

Pokeweed is a plant that is easily recognizable when it fruits in fall, thanks to its bright pink stems and dark purple/black berries. The berries aren’t edible, so don’t try eating them, but it can be fun to smush them up and make “paint” out of them. Another fun thing with pokeweed: when you spot a pokeweed plant, you get to poke someone and say “pokeweed”!

 

[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']
[data-bbox-part-id='c9c97a3e-5550-445e-88ca-5c101c400056']