Fall is the perfect time of year to get outside and explore nature. The trees are changing colors and the days are cool but still warm enough to spend outdoors. Taking a nature walk is one of my family’s favorite activities. My son loves finding new items on his walk and I love pointing out all the ways that the seasons are changing. A nature walk is a great way to get out as a family, I love that we can usually include our dog on our adventures. Not only are nature walks a fun outing, but they can also be an educational experience, they give kids a chance to learn about the world outside their homes.
What to look for on a Nature Walk:
Great Places to Take a Nature Walk in Atlantic County
Estell Manor Park
Estell Manor Park offers 20 miles of hiking trails and bike paths. I’m not suggesting you conquer all 20 miles or even one mile of the trails with your kids but these trails are definitely a great place to start. We walked about 15 minutes down one trail a few weeks ago and were able to see animal tracks, find acorns and observe so many things about nature. It gave my son the feeling of being in the woods, without getting too far out into the woods. Also make sure to stop by the Warren E. Fox Nature Center located at the front of the park. There, you can check out environmental displays and live animal exhibits. Estell Manor Park is located at 109 State Highway 50 in Estell Manor, New Jersey.
While summer is definitely over, the beach is still a great place to take a nature walk. Actually the beach is a better place for a nature walk during the fall than it is during the summer. In the summer the beach is covered with people; leaving many shells and treasures stepped on or hidden under beach blankets and chairs. In the fall the beach is fairly untouched and fresh nature finds wash up on shore everyday. Pull out your buckets head to the beach and see what you can find. Ask your kids if they notice any differences about the beach from summer to fall. Have the birds flown south? Is the water a different color? The beaches are open year round but do remember that there are no lifeguards on duty and to use caution near the water.
Beach comber walk
Egg Harbor Township Nature Preserve
The Egg Harbor Township Nature Preserve is located off of Zion Road just beyond some residential neighborhoods. It is a 220 acre sanctuary that has an environmental center, lake area and wooded area. The Nature Preserve is good for biking, hiking or fishing. You can hike the different trails and visit the environmental center. The Egg Harbor Township Nature Preserve is also a great place to see many different types of birds. The Egg Harbor Township Nature Preserve is located at 318 Zion Road in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey.
Birch Grove Park
Birch Grove Park in Northfield is one of my favorite places. It is close enough to home that I can always swing by and yet once I’m there I feel like I’m far away. That’s probably because once you head down one of the many trails you tend to get a little lost in how beautiful the park is. The park is a surprising 50 acres and yet is just minutes from the beaches and the malls. Birch Grove Park also has camp sites if you want to turn your nature walk into an overnight adventure. There are several walking, hiking and jogging trails around the park. Just follow the signs as you make your way through the trails. Most of the trails are a 15-20 minute walk and young kids should be able to walk most of it on their own. On our last visit we got to see turtles in the lake and a chipmunk running along the trails. Birch Grove Park is located at 1700 Burton Ave in Northfield, New Jersey.
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Galloway offers all kinds of trails to hike, walk or drive. The refugee also has an observation tower so that you can get a birds eye view of all that there is to explore. Speaking of birds, make sure to check out the Songbird Trail, a 5 mile trail that can be hiked in sections. In the summer, spring and fall you will be able to many different species of birds. Be sure to stop at the Visitor Center to pick up trail maps and information. For a shorter walk make sure you check out Aker’s Trail which is a short walk through upland forest and is also handicap accessible.
Your Own Backyard
Recently we walked around our neighborhood in search of fallen leaves and signs of the seasons changing. My son loved exploring our own neighborhood and picking up all the sticks, leaves and branches. I gave him a camera to take some pictures of what he was finding and of the trees changing colors. He loved this activity and keeps asking to do it again.
Nature walks are a simple, fun, learning experience for kids. It’s also a great way to spend time as families away from the distractions of cell phones, tablets and television. It’s fun to disconnect and see what happens.