Exploring with Kids @ Stonebridge Preserve

Stonebridge Waterfowl Preserve

When we arrived at Stonebridge Waterfowl Preserve, I realized we’d been here before. Last year, we joined one of the Children’s Hikes (aka Short Walks for Short People), and had a great time. On that trip, we followed the group and learned a lot about wildlife. This time we had a map and went at our own pace and wandered all around the property.

In some ways, this reminded me of our trip recently to Newman Poses, as there was a large field, low-lying areas and highlands. We started in the big field, just as we did at Newman Poses, but this time in bloom.



We wandered up by the pond, which did not have much water in it, but Avery was still able to stand in the mud and throw sticks in the water (note: if your child is the type to run around in the mud, do the wetlands part of the hike first and by the time you’re done with the highlands, the mud is dried and it comes off easily before getting back in the car).

The stepping stones bridge is awesome … when there’s water, which sadly today there was not. However, it was much easier to cross. The other two bridges were much more of a hit with the little guy. After coming out of the wetlands, we followed the Saugatuck River on our left.    We found some large rocks by the river where we stopped to eat granola bars and apples.

I don’t want to admit how many times I’ve tried to make healthy(ish) granola bars people in my family will eat, but this time was a success (recipe below). We walked down by the water looking for fish and petting the algae-covered rocks which are above water since the water is so low right now.

We then went across Stonebridge Road to follow the loop through the Uplands. Just at the entrance to the trail south of Stonebridge Road is a giant rock, great for climbing and making Avery feel taller than his parents. We could tell from the map there was a bridge coming up, and since it was fall and there are a lot of oak trees, we stuff our pockets with acorns to throw into the water. The bridge at the southern end of the preserve must have once been part of a road as it was concrete, but there was no other evidence of a road. Once we’d carpet bombed the water with all of our acorns, we each dropped a leaf on the upstream side of the bridge and then raced to the other side to see whose leaf would come through first. Then, the inevitable activity of throwing rocks in the water resumed.  As I was picking up a rock, my husband Derek, noticed a garter snake. It was kind of a cool day, so I was surprised that it was in the shade, and it didn’t try to hide or disappear. It just stayed there, head up, probably waiting for us to leave. 

After heading back across Stonebridge Road, we crossed over the final bridge, stopping of course, to throw more acorns, leaves and stones, as well as pretend like the bridge itself is gym equipment.

Under all normal circumstances, the highlight of the preserve would be the bridges, but like the last time when we were here with the Children’s Hike and the highlight was a frog the kids found, this time it was the garter snake. And while I will now remember this preserve for the animals we’ve seen, it is odd that I have no recollection at all of any waterfowl at the Stonebridge Waterfowl Preserve.

For maps, directions and more information about the Stonebridge Waterfowl Preserve in Weston, click here. 

Copycat Nature Valley Granola Bars (stolen in its entirety from Chocolate Covered Katie: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2012/01/23/copycat-nature-valley-granola-bars/)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine dry ingredients, then mix in wet. Transfer to a 7×5 baking dish (lined with parchment paper), and press down. Squish HARD. Hard hard hard. Then cook for around 18 minutes. Wait at least 20 minutes before trying to cut into bars.

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup rice crispies (I used brown rice crispies)
  • 3 tbsp oat flour (You can make your own by grinding oats in a food processor*.)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil or veg oil
  • 3 tbsp agave or other liquid sweetener
  • 1 packet stevia (or 1 tbsp dry sweetener)

 

Sections: Exploring Preserves with Kids