Let’s Explore is also designed to make it easier for families to spend time with kids outdoors. All Let’s Explore adventures start at a nature play area, a playground comprised of natural materials. Kids use their imaginations during unstructured outdoor play, building forts, digging in the dirt, balancing on logs and more. Next, hike a nearby trail suitable for kids and participate in Let’s Explore activities, such as:
- Hike & Seek: How many types of trees, plants, rocks and insects can you find?
- Wildlife Warmup: Can you jump like a frog, balance on one leg and buzz like a bee?
- Wildflower Hunt: How many different colored flowers can you find?
Let’s Explore activities can be found at four MetroParks.
- Englewood MetroPark East Park, 4361 W. National Rd.
- Start at the nature play area at Patty Shelter.
- Hike the 1.5-mile red trail through a forested area. View a wildlife marsh area from the trail’s edge.
- Hills & Dales MetroPark, 2606 Hilton Dr.
- Start at the newly opened nature play area located at this entrance.
- Hike the easy orange Adirondack Trail, which is 1.4 miles round trip with an option to turn around at Dogwood Pond for a shorter hike. Beyond the pond, look for woodpeckers and other birds, along with wildflowers in the spring and Zebra Swallowtail butterflies in summer.
- Sugarcreek MetroPark, 4178 Conference Rd.
- Start at the nature play area
- Hike the flat 0.7-mile yellow trail through a tall grass prairie, which is a great place to see wildflowers throughout summer and early fall. The trail also passes a vernal pool where visitors might spot some frogs and salamanders.
- Possum Creek MetroPark, 4790 Frytown Rd.
- Start near the nature play area next to the education center.
- Hike the easy 0.3-mile green trail, shaded by native trees, around the Possum Creek Farm. Various birds and wildlife might be spotted along the trail, and evening hikers may hear owls.
“Spending time outside is good for all of us — but is especially important for children,” said Beth Burke, MetroParks interpretive coordinator. “Spending time outdoors helps children develop problem-solving
skills, foster cooperation and inspire curiosity. It improves children’s physical and mental health. And time outdoors creates a connection with nature and develops a long-term appreciation for the natural world.”
Visit metroparks.org/letsexplore for more activities, suggested hikes and tips for hiking with kids. Visit metroparks.org/mobile to download MetroParks’ free mobile app, which includes maps, nearby amenities, points of interest and much more.