Guest Blog by Ryan Schlader, Linn County Conservation Community Outreach.
At a parking lot at Morgan Creek Park, a parent is attempting to console his 2-and-a-half-year-old sobbing child as they walk back to their car. Little Cameron wasn’t hurt, scared, or hungry. Instead, he kept pointing back at the Arboretum Trail. He wasn’t ready to go home.
For total disclosure, that was my kid. My wife and I have the same experience when we are out at Wickiup Hill Learning Center, Squaw Creek Park, Pinicon Ridge, or any of the other Linn County Conservation areas when I’m not on the clock.
The Linn County Conservation Board continues to develop and maintain its county parks, preserves, and natural areas which includes promoting outdoor recreation. In doing so, they have recognized the need to connect people with natural places, including children. It is easy to argue that some of these nature play experiences are becoming endangered in today’s day and age. There is also growing evidence that using parks and other outdoor areas leads to better health.
If you are still looking for ways to connect to nature, let me offer some ideas:
The Wickiup Hill Learning Center, just northwest of Cedar Rapids, is open 7 days a week. The indoor exhibits not only relate to nature, watersheds, and our environment, but also the area’s Native American and archeological history. Over 300 programs for all ages are held at the center throughout the year. The Wickiup Hill Outdoor Area features over 6 miles of interpretive trails.
You still have time to take in some camping this year at one of our 300+ camping sites. Rent a lodge or shelter for your next event. How about renting a paddle boat, canoe, or kayak for use in the backwaters of the Wapsipinicon river within Pinicon Ridge Park? Maybe you would prefer a 2, 4, or 6-hour canoe float down the river.
Our trails are not only popular for hiking, walking, and biking, but also nature study and photography. 3.5 more miles of paving is scheduled for the Cedar Valley Nature trail this fall which will then provide for a continuous hard surface from Cedar Rapids to Center Point. Paving efforts continue along this 52-mile trail, which extends from Hiawatha to Evansdale, and is part of the nationwide American Discovery Trail.
I want to encourage you to visit your local parks, not only in August before the kiddos head back to school, but all 12 months out of the year. Remember, if your child cries when it’s time to go home, that’s not always a bad thing!
Find more about Linn County Conservation here.