I snapped a shot of the map when we arrived. It actually came in quite handy as we were navigating the trails. In the past, I've been out on the trails a little longer than we expected with friends because we didn't know the trails very well. I offer this tip: Take a picture of the trail map so you can review while walking.
There is a small play are at the park. My kids really like the big stones that are out! Next we checked out the Sensory Garden. This is a neat concept and has many textures, smells, tastes, etc. even in winter. I was relieved to see no gardeners here today. We appreciate their efforts!
The boys enjoyed the pond and rocks. Ice is such a fascinating thing to investigate! I think the green rocks would have been moved if not cemented down. Smart move, Elkhart County Parks!
When we were watching the ice, my nephew mentioned this is how the continents once were . . . five minutes later, my husband started a lecture about how the continents once were together . . . a little late. Good connections for them all, though!
Later, we took a hike through the woods. We saw holes in the ground and wondered what might live there.
Interesting trees to climb . . . this was like a fortress of sorts. The kids loved it!
Note the many birdhouses in the background . . . there are several informational placards throughout the park. I appreciate this as learning tools when we're out.
We checked out the creek and talked about trout.
Note the footprint on the rock in the middle? My niece exclaimed there was a fossil! Turned out to be a footprint. Still, she understand the concept!
My son found more treasures! I'm reminded of this type of blocks whenever I see these. I also think of the invention of velcro and hitchhiker seeds.
We found this beautiful tree conglomeration. This is huge! This was our attempt at "tree hugging".
We also found a geocache. This was a little tricky as the kids wanted to follow the direct route to the geocache; however, we needed to follow the trails to get there. This was a unique hide. It's always neat to see the ingenuity of containers and how they are hidden.
Travel bugs are kind of neat. They have unique tracking numbers so you can track everywhere they've been. If you take a travel bug, it should quickly be taken to another geocache so it can move along its way. We've seen some neat ones, like a plastic hamburger that wanted to travel to the best burger joints. People take pictures with it along the journeys and upload them to the website. We left it there as we don't have a good track record with travel bugs.
There was a little bit of SWAG. We didn't bring any extra stuff to trade so it stayed there. We hadn't planned on geocaching, but checked the app on my phone while out for geocaches. This app was $9.99, which is more than I've ever paid for an app. Compared to the mega money we've paid for GPS units in the past, the endless papers printed, and information downloaded, the $10 for the app is a steal! All the needed information is right there and we don't have to do as much planning ahead to go geocaching. I can just pull out my phone and see if there are any caches nearby.
The kids loved this little grouping of rocks!
And some "loose parts". The sticks were a hit with all ages!
We found quartz embedded in the rock.
We also noted these two rocks seemed to fit perfectly together.
We even tried to see if they would fit, but it was quite heavy. Still we could see close enough that these were once one. Here is a little information on weathering and erosion.
We found woodpecker holes and hideouts.
We found the frozen pond and other nearby wetlands. The kids found the ice fascinating.
Another gall . . .
More berries . . .
A fisherman passing by. There were a fair amount of people out at the park. While it was balmy for this time of the year (about 57 or so), one man was in shorts and a t-shirt. Others were walking their dogs. One man was just sitting in his car reading the paper. It was good to see people use this great park!
While I'm sure it wasn't JUST us, I think we're partially to blame for this fence from a previous visit. At least I'm glad they are clear that they don't want us to walk in this area. Sometimes I wish this park had more posted rules as we've had the gardeners tell us specific rules, yet they weren't posted for us to know.
We ended with a treat back at the van. Treats can be powerful!