By Heather Crivellone
Our beautiful Sacramento weather makes it hard to stay indoors. And with inquisitive little youngsters, it’s always a joy to take them into nature and let them explore the world around us. Luckily for us who live in Sacramento, we have the advantage of being surrounded by so many opportunities to get into nature. With rivers, lakes, hiking and biking trails galore- there is no reason to be cooped inside during this time of year!
Now if you have littler ones who may not be up for the “High Sierras” quite yet- or, if you are just looking for a simple day outing with your family, then check out the Effie Yeaw Nature Center located in Ancil Hoffman Park in Carmichael.
With a 77 acre nature preserve and smooth hiking trails through the riparian woodlands along the American River, this makes for a wonderful family outing.
Recently, my kids and I revisited the nature center for an afternoon outing and had an absolutely wonderful day. They enjoyed the hike down to the river and we were all in awe as we watched over twenty caterpillars scamper across the trail. My little guy oohed and awed as he examined the furry things and my daughter was delighted to be able to “help” them across the path so they could be “safe” and turn into beautiful butterflies. We also had the opportunity to view (up close and personal) an owl, turtles, deer, wild turkeys and many toads (we dared my daughter to kiss one of them to turn into a prince- but, she didn’t think it would happen).
With plenty of picnic areas and shade, it was the perfect “hike” to get my kids (ages 3 and 4) ready for our summer camping adventures.
One thing to keep in mind on the hikes is that there is plenty of wildlife…snakes included. Be prepared to teach you little ones that if they hear “rattle”, it’s not a baby toy making that sound!
The center offers a variety of activities for children and adults. Educational programs, guided walking tours and interactive exhibits to name a few. They also have a wonderful educational center with hands-on exhibits for the children to learn about nature.
During the month of June they will be hosting talks on butterflies, raptors, snakes, deers, the gold discovery and more. They will also have a Campfire Sing-a-Long on SAturday the 23rd, River walks, Nature Storytimes, and will be hosting a summer concert series on Friday evenings.
During the summer they also will have a kids Summer Camp for children K-6th grades. This would be a great way to get those kids out of the house (away from those video games) and into nature with their friends during the summer break. Check the website for more information.
The American River Natural History Association (ARNHA) and the Effie Yeaw Nature Center are dedicated to bringing awareness of the beauty and diversity of the natural world to children, families, and the community through education initiatives that foster appreciation, enjoyment, and stewardship of the unique natural and cultural resources of the Sacramento region.
This is a non- profit organization and all you have to pay to enter the preserve is a $5 parking fee.
If you visit the center, I suggest bringing a picnic lunch and spending the entire day. They do have clean restrooms and sell “light” snacks and drinks in the gift shop.
Enjoy your outing in the “Wilderness”.