Recent weather has been all over the place, making it difficult to get into a seasonal groove. However, the girls and I managed to take advantage of a few nice days this week to get outside and play.
On Monday, we took a day hike over to Monticello Park. The park is fantastic for little explorers this time of year. The brush is fairly low and the ground is covered in a thick layer of crunchy leaves.
Just outside the dog exercise area, there are a number of downed trees that make the perfect outdoor jungle gym. My 3-year-old had an incredible adventure climbing up her makeshift balance beam (a tree) and charging off the beaten path with another likeminded tot. Meanwhile, my 1-year-old relished in every pebble, bug and leaf that she could get her little hands on. The sight was magical.
On Thursday, we decided to venture a bit farther and try out Accotink Lake Park in Springfield. Surrounded by suburbs, the park has no backcountry wilderness or perfect lake scene. However, it was exactly what we were craving: an easily accessible retreat with enough trails and nature to clear our heads.
Dog in tow, we parked right next to the lake loop trailhead. While reviewers warn the area can get muddy, the trail was wide and dry and perfect for navigating with a jogging stroller. There were a number of kayakers, fishermen, trail runners, bikers and dog owners also enjoying the park. But with a 4-mile loop around the lake and 493 acres of parkland, we definitely didn’t feel crowded. The girls had fun sticking their toes in the water, running along the trails and seeing the neat birds that live in the marsh.
As weather warms up, we will certainly explore area parks more thoroughly. In the meantime, these two provided our water-loving dog and adventure seeking tots a great mid-week escape.
Do you have a favorite nearby nature-escape? Tell us in the comments.