Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fast Facts: Cincinnati Nature Center, Rowe Woods

4949 Tealtown Road
Milford, OH 45150

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Kids Will Like
  • A True Wilderness Experience
  • Hands-on Activities and Exhibits in the Visitor's Center
  • New Nature Playscape (opened August, 2011)
  • Toys and books in the Nature Shop
  • The Learning Log: a fallen tree to explore 
  • Pellets to feed the fish in the pond--bring some quarters
  • Streams and Bridges and Ponds, oh my!
  • Bird Blinds
  • Touch Tables of Items Found at CNC, like Bones, Fossils, etc.
  • Many programs and special activities available--check the CNC's excellent website for more information:
Good to Know
  • Non-Member Admission Fees: Adults--$8; Kids (4-12)--$3; Active Military and Seniors 65+--$6
  • Large Parking Lot
  • Designated Picnic Area
  • Air-Conditioned / Heated Visitor's Center (Free coffee inside!)
  • Restroom Rating: A+
  • Drinking Fountains
  • Stroller's Possible on certain trails
  • Trail Maps Available or download here:

Climbing the Learning Log at CNC

Feeding the Fish at the Pond

                                                                           On the Trail

Trail Tale: Cincinnati Nature Center, Rowe Woods, June 2010

I consider the Cincinnati Nature Center (CNC) the hiking mecca of the Cincy region.  Before I had my two tykes, I hiked CNC often.  I've explored each one of the ten trails several times.  I once combined enough trails to form such a long hike, I worried I would not make it out by dark.  I found myself running the trails until I finally emerged at dusk, feeling pretty spooked and a little stupid.  This is not a place to take lightly, but armed with a map and a plan, you can have multiple successful hikes with your kids here.  It's a place to visit often for a real wilderness experience.  Plus, there are plenty of planned activities for kids if you are interested. 

On a day in June, I greeted my old stomping ground for the first time with my boys, along with my brother and nephew, Will (age 8).  We stopped at the Nature Center to start where the boys checked out the toys for sale, used the provided binoculars to view the picturesque Powell Crosley Lake and wildlife from the large windows at the back of the building.  There were a couple of interactive stations, like a place to listen to bird calls and a play area with crayons and books.  I was interested in the beautiful library designed like a cafe with welcoming fireplace.  Wireless Internet access is provided here as well.  I made a mental note to come back with alone with my laptop and to explore the library in depth, perhaps with a mug of the free coffee!

We headed outside after the required trip to the restroom to feed the fish at the lake.  Pellets are provided for a quarter a handful.  The kids had a good time watching the fish and turtles up close as they competed for the food.

After the lake, it was on to the trails!  The map we received at the admission booth on the way into the park was accidentally left in the car.  My brother and I decided to forge ahead since we both had plenty of experience on the trails.   Hmmm, not the best decision, as you will see.  We walked past the Visitor's Center building toward the parking lot and entered on the Upland Trail which runs in front of the Krippendorf Lodge.

The Upland trail is described as easy and we chose it to accommodate the stroller carrying my toddler son, Miles.  We quickly came to an intersection of trails and used our good memory and wits to choose the path of least resistance.  (This would have been a perfect time to consult the map).  After about ten minutes, we realized we had chosen poorly.  If you take a look at the trail map: , you will see the bright blue line of the Upland Trail.  Look more closely to see the gray secondary trail--the one with the words "Limestone Steps" above a bunch of hatched lines.  Or, you can get a better idea of what we encountered in these pictures:

My Son Miles, Off-Roading in his Stroller and Brother Randy, the Good Sport!

Once we made it down the limestone steps, we reached the Geology Trail (purple line on the map), which criss-crosses Avey's Run stream.  Who doesn't like hanging out near a stream?  With all the rocks and puddles and possible tadpole sightings, the boys were busy and happy along this stretch of the trail.  My nephew even gave a hand carrying the stroller over the rocks and stones while the younger two explored.

From the stream, we headed up the Geology trail to the Wildflower trail (pink line on the map) where we ascended even more limestone steps to make our way back to the Upland trail.  Along the way, we enjoyed the change of scenery where we emerged from the woods to a wildflower field.  There weren't too many blooms this particular time of the year.  It was a little late for spring and a little early for summer.  Still, there was enough to keep our interest and entice us to come back another time.  Marshall got a good whiff of this wildflower:

William took the reigns at the stroller and Miles enjoyed the much less bumpy ride in the grass where the trail was wide enough to accommodate the stroller and then some.

After passing through the wildflower field, we entered the woods once more. Finally, Miles was free to roam and he thoroughly enjoyed stretching his legs and looking for special treasures all by himself.

On My Feet

Keep up with me, Mom


I Love the Woods

After Miles' romp along the trail and a VERY close dive into a frog bog (I can now site two times I have found myself running along the trails at CNC), we paid a visit to the Herb Wall where we tasted some sage, spearmint, stevia, and lemon balm.  By this time, everyone was wearing down...rather, Miles was wearing me down, so we returned to the Visitor's Center once again to make a pit stop at the restrooms and cool off in the air-conditioning.  On the way back to the parking lot, the boys climbed on the Learning Log, a fallen tree left at the front of the Visitor's Center for children to explore and see first hand the process of decomposition.

So, we explored portions of only three out of the ten trails at CNC on this early-summer day, leaving many, many opportunities for future hikes.  I look forward to visiting time and time again as my boys grow and hope to instill in them a love of this beautiful Cincinnati natural treasure.

For first time visitors, especially those with strollers, I recommend beginning with either the Stanley M. Rowe All-Persons Trail (orange line on the map) or the Edge Trail (lime green line) which circles Powell Crosley Lake.  There are countless combinations of paths you could take so don't listen too closely to my advice.  Consult the map and keep it with you at all times lest, like my brother and I, you find yourself navigating way too many limestone steps with a large stroller or running like mad to get out of the park before the night descends!