Fall is always a special time for Lisa. She loves the leaves changing colors. We usually take a short trip to check out another area’s colors. But, this year, we traveled no farther than our back yard. Ok, not technically our back yard, but we went to Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue, Nebraska. It’s about a 20-minute drive for us.
We have a membership to the forest, so we thought it would be a good idea to use it. LOL. We made a few trips out there this year. You can check the difference in the colors and leaf falling over a few weeks.
Fontenelle Forest is a nice place to do some hiking. We like to take the river trail. You walk a dirt trail through the trees, up and down a few hills. Eventually, you end up near the Missouri River. You have to cross a set of railroad tracks. I don’t encourage people to cross them, but there are signs advising people of the tracks and to be careful in the area.
The view of the Missouri River is pretty nice from the bank. You definitely need to be careful when walking near the river (safety tip. The more you know, you know?).
Once we were done taking in the river and track views, we headed back to our second favorite trail – the boardwalk. I believe the trek around the boardwalk is about a mile or so. There are a couple of routes to take on the boardwalk, so you can get some decent views of the trees, leaves and other attractions.
The forest has a playground area – Acorn Acres – for young kids. There is some equipment children can climb and play in. There are also some “musical” instruments, if a youngin’ is interested.
During a walk through one of the trails, you may come upon a sculpture in black. “Kit and the Very Large Beast” was commissioned by Fontenelle Forest as part of a Smithsonian project – “Green Revolution” – to help create awareness on how people can reduce their carbon footprint through recycling and reusing items.
The sculpture was created by kirk Vaughn Robinson, the forest’s in-house artist at the time. He also wrote a children’s book to go with the project. The sculpture was made using recycled bike tires and inner tubes.
As you stroll through the forest, you will see a lot of birds and other wildlife. I bought Lisa a bird book and a pair of binoculars to help her during our visits to Fontenelle.
A family favorite are squirrels. We enjoy watching them and photographing them when we can. During a previous trip, we lucked out in finding a gray squirrel that actually stopped long enough for us to get some pictures of it. It impressed me that this guy was content with staying in place so long. Some kids came running along the boardwalk. That didn’t even scare the squirrel. Amazing! Lisa laughs when I thank squirrels and other animals for letting me get their photo.
Though our main reason for visiting Fontenelle Forest is to take a walk and view the trees and wildlife, it offers visitors more choices.
The forest is home to a small raptor recovery center. Owls, hawks and other birds are treated and kept in shelters near the visitors center.
Fontenelle Forest offers a variety of educational programs for all ages.
We’ve enjoyed our membership. Fontenelle Forest is a great place for animal watching, leafing and just taking a nice quiet hike.
For more information on Fontenelle Forest, please visit its website at http://www.fontenelleforest.org/.