Cincinnati Parks’ Explore Nature! has a mission to educate people of all ages about our relationship with nature, and instill enthusiasm about the natural and historical resources in the Cincinnati Parks system. Then, it will only feel natural to assist in its protection and management!
Have you ever made maple syrup right from the maple tree? Did you know Cincinnati Parks has a planetarium? Or that the simple stone shelters scattered through our parks actually exemplify a variety of architectural influences?
We have so many programs and facilities designed to get you and your friends or family interacting with the abundant nature thriving right in our city. Teachers are encouraged to contact us or view our brochures below, regarding school programs, to enhance lesson plans. Exploring nature is as close as the nearest Cincinnati Park.
For more information please call (513) 321-6070 or view the full School Programs brochure.
Nature Centers & Preserves
See What Our Nature Centers Have to Offer
Cincinnati Parks offers programming and education for all ages at its five nature centers located around the city. Krohn Conservatory, our beautiful showcase of a greenhouse in Eden Park, also features special programs for the general public and for schools. Our archives and library are located at the Bettman Natural Resource Center. Reserve a Nature Center! See below for more information regarding special features and programming at all of these unique facilities:
Avon Woods Nature Center 4235 Paddock Road
Ph: (513) 861-3435
The Avon Woods Natural Area/Preserve is located only four miles from downtown Cincinnati. It features rolling hills, hiking trails, a stream-cut valley and community gardens. The trails are easy to locate and rated as moderate hiking. Avon Woods’ programs serve participants citywide and are designed for preschool age through senior citizens.
Bettman Natural Resource Center 4 Beech Lane
Ph: (513) 321-6070
This is where Cincinnati Parks houses its rich collection of books and other materials regarding its history as well as nature education. Bettman also has a small nature preserve that is wheelchair accessible. The library and archives are open to the public by appointment; our volunteer staff is available on Tuesdays from Noon to 2pm. Please call 513.321.6070 for an appointment.
Caldwell Nature Center 430 W. North Bend Road
Ph: (513) 761-4313
These parklands have a long history, going back to Cincinnati’s earliest days. Today Caldwell has approximately 3.5 miles of nature trails and a variety of wildlife (including a flying squirrel population that can be spotted gliding among the treetops in the evenings) and wildflowers. Near the Nature Center is an amphitheater and an Access Trail so that even wheelchair users can venture into the woods. A deck along the Access Trail overlooks the ravine and creek, providing a lovely view in all seasons.
California Woods Nature Center 5400 Kellogg Ave.
Ph: (513) 231-8678
This park is set on 113 acres of pristine forest that includes 53 tree species, as well as, dozens of plant and flower species; Lick Run Creek runs through this nature preserve, and is home to wildlife that is a treat to see, such as kingfishers or snapping turtles. On one of California’s hiking trails, look for pileated woodpeckers and even great horned owls at home among the tall sycamores. There’s also a butterfly and hummingbird garden located directly in front of the nature center.
LaBoiteaux Woods Nature Center 5400 Lanius Ln.
Ph: (513) 542-2909
LaBoiteaux offers busy city-dwellers a true retreat into nature and local history. The hundreds of acres that make up LaBoiteaux Woods are home to deer, red and gray fox, mink, hawks, owls and turtles, and those woods are accessible via four miles of hiking trails. A rustic nature center houses nature displays, animal mounts, live animals, and a small nature library.
Trailside Nature Center Burnet Woods
Ph: (513) 751-3679
The Trailside Nature Center is located in Burnet Woods Park, adjoining the University of Cincinnati and one of Cincinnati’s oldest parks. It includes a children’s museum, a handicap-access meeting room for nature education programs, and a fishing lake created in 1875. While you’re at Burnet Woods, check out the schedule for the newly reopened Wolff Planetarium
For Ages 5 – 12
*Most weekends are available August 15 – April 15 but call 321-6070 to check on availability during unlisted dates.
For a two hour party at a Nature Center, the Naturalist provides 90 minutes of fun-filled nature activities such as a short hike, hands-on activities, and a simple craft to keep as a memento. Please schedule at least 3 weeks in advance of your proposed dates.
Fee: $150 for up to 10 children; $15 for each additional child.
If more time is needed for the food and gift portion of the party, the cost is $25 for each additional 30 minutes.
TOPICS TO CHOOSE FROM:
*Creepy Crawly (Insects, Spiders, Reptiles and Amphibians)
*This theme is more appropriate during the Spring and Fall months.
Outside: Bingo hike; Insect Hunt with nets and games such as Creepy Crawly Crunch, Eeek! Spider! or Lemonade will be played.
Inside: “What is an Insect vs Spider” presentation; Live animal presentation and a choice of craft, such as the Turtle Shell Hide or Climbing Spider.
Activities for older participants may include: Quick Frozen Critters game; frog catch craft (an adaptation of the ball in the cup craft); and a deeper investigation on common insects and how to identify them on the hike.
Outside: Camouflage Hike which will include an activity where two teams take turns hiding and finding different color cut-out rabbits and Forest Friends Bingo. Games include Fox and Rabbit, Camouflage and Animal Catchers.
Inside: Taxidermy and live animal presentation; mammal puppet craft.
Activities for older participants may include: How Many Squirrels Can Live in This Forest and Bat and Moth games outside. Craft for this age group may include the Bat Catch (an adaptation of the ball and cup craft).
Winged Wonders (Birds, Butterflies and Bats)
Outside: Bingo hike; Games such as Birds-n-Worms and Build a Bird relay race.
Inside: Depending on the topic chosen, “How do birds and others fly” presentation, Feather Fun and Build a Bird activity. Craft choices are Butterfly Clothes Pin Craft; Tic-Tac-Toe Birds or Butterfly Suncatchers
Activities for older participants may include: Scavenger Hunt; Migration Headache game; Paper Animal flying contest.
*not available at Trailside in Burnet Woods or Avon Woods (no creek for fossil hunting).
Outside: Fossil Hike in creek. Game: Fossil puzzle relay race and Trilobite Tag.
Inside: ”How did fossils form” presentation; Fossil Bingo and Fossil Wheel Craft.
Activities for older participants may include: Fossil card slap game; Fossil Cootie Craft.
2016 Fall (September – November)
Harvest Day – Thanksgiving Holiday Break Day Camp
Wed., November 23, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. — Avon Woods Nature Preserve
On this Thanksgiving Eve, join us to celebrate the fall harvest, learn about local Native American tribes and their culture. Make a charming craft to take home. Pack a lunch and drink, and dress for the weather. For ages K-3rd grade. Fee: $15 per child with a $3 administrative fee.
Register online by Nov. 21
Fall 2016 Homeschool Programs
Cincinnati Park Naturalists provide a local resource for homeschooling families through weekday natural history and science programs that are educational and encourage hands-on learning. Join other homeschoolers for fun and learning! Register online at: https://parks.cincyregister.com/homeschoolfall16 for the programs listed below.
2016 Harvest Day Camp Registration:
Wednesday, November 23 from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Avon Woods Nature Center, 4235 Paddock Road, 45229
Fee: $15.00 per camper (There is a $3 administrative fee per camper)
Appropriate for children in Kindergarten – 3rd grade
On this Thanksgiving Eve, parents can finish last minute plans for the holiday while their children can spend part of their day with our Naturalist staff enjoying a hike, games and other hands-on activities.
Children in grades Kindergarten – 3rd can join other campers celebrating the history of this holiday. Through Indoor and outdoor activities, learn about our local Native American tribes (Shawnee and Miami) and their cultures. Celebrate the Fall harvest and make a charming craft to take home.
Dress for the weather, pack a lunch & drink, and be ready for FUN!
Spaces are limited so register online now at: https://parks.cincyregister.com/harvestcamp2016
2017 MAPLE IN MT. AIRY
Saturday March 4, 2017 – breakfast seatings by reservation starting at 9:00 a.m.
Mt. Airy Forest (Oak Ridge Lodge)
This event is perfect for scouts, organized groups and families of all ages!
A free pancake breakfast is provided in Oak Ridge Lodge before your program begins. The breakfast includes pancakes, sausage, maple syrup, and your choice of beverage (orange juice, milk or coffee). You are given 30 minutes to eat breakfast.
After breakfast, participants head outside to interact with sugar makers from the past and present to learn how trees produce the sugar and how people have tapped into this sweet source over the centuries. Participants visit 4 stations outside of the lodge: At the Maple Tree station learn how the trees make sap (sugar water) and stop by the Evaporator station to discover how we turn the sap into syrup. The Native American station will delight you with small samples of pure maple sugar while the Pioneers will warm your mouth with a taste of maple tea. Yum…lots of tasting!
The program including breakfast takes approximately 1.25 hours. Reserve your seat early for this popular event. Call 321-6208 for additional information.
Program fee: $8.00 per person (ages 3 and under are FREE), non-refundable.
ONLINE REGISTRATION ENDS AT NOON ON FRIDAY, MARCH 3.
CINCINNATI PARKS’ 2017 MAPLE MAGIC FOR GIRL SCOUTS
WELCOME ALL: Daisy, Brownie, Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts!
Saturdays in February, 2017 at the Marian J. and Charles D. Lindberg Nature Center
in California Woods Nature Preserve
5400 Kellogg Avenue, 45230 (Mt. Washington / Anderson Township)
Learn the history and mystery of Ohio’s oldest sweet……Maple Sugar! We will tap maple trees, collect sap and learn how to turn it into the yummy stuff we all know so well. Meet other troops and ages along the way! After all that work, come inside the center and enjoy some pancakes, sausage and real maple syrup.
These programs fill very quickly so reserve your spot early. Please only choose one program date and time; programs are identical.
Cost is $8 per person which includes girls scouts, scout leaders and chaperones. There is a $3.00 administrative fee (per order, not per person). Paid reservations required.
For more information, please call (513) 231-8678.