Elm Fork Nature Preserve in Carrollton

If we have a nice spring day, our family usually finds an excuse to get outside.   Kids need time for unstructured play and exploring nature on a hike in the woods is one of the best ways we’ve found to spark imagination while getting a little exercise and learning about the world around us.   We  recently explored the Elm Fork Nature Preserve in Carrollton.   It’s a hidden natural treasure in the middle of the busy city.
She Is Dallas info: The Elm Fork Nature Preserve is located at Located within McInnish Park at 2335 Sandy Lake Road in Carrollton.   The trails are open from dawn to dusk and there is no admission cost.   For more information and a trail map, please visit the Elm Fork Nature Preserve website.
Nicholas  read aloud a sign at the beginning of the trail.   It told us about the history of the property as well as proper etiquette while out on the trails. Nicholas already knows  the “rules of the trail”  but it was good for Rachel  to hear it too.
boy reading trail sign 600x350

Some important rules about nature walks that the sign reminded us include:

  • Dress for the weather – layers are best
  • Always wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes (snakes, stones and sandals don’t mix)
  • Stay on the trail – for your safety and to protect the plants and wildlife
  • Most importantly, take only pictures, leave only footprints

We were also reminded to use our senses while enjoying the Nature Preserve.   Hear the bird songs, smell the fresh air and wildflowers, feel the breeze, and watch the plants and wildlife as they live in this natural habitat.

There are lots of great tree and plant identification markers along the trail complete with their written name as well as their name in braille and a picture of  it’s leaf.   This was really helpful for us since it is still too early to see growth on the bare trees which made it harder to identify them.

The kids had fun just running along the path, stopping to look at interesting things along the way.   Nicholas used his magnifying glass (Cub Scouts always come prepared) to look at some tree bark.

boy with magnifying glass 600x350We were relaxed and having fun until we saw this sign. Nicholas didn’t even take time to read it and simply freaked out at the picture of the red snake.

snake sign 600x350I must admit that although I’m always aware of natural dangers such as snakes when we go out in the woods, it was particularly unnerving for me to see such a bold sign warning about a poisonous snake habitat!


I knew this piece of the path followed the river and the sign was over on that side of the path. So we talked again about rules out in nature, particular to stay alert and don’t walk off of the path.

We were out of that area pretty quickly.

I thought it was really sweet how Nicholas held on to Rachel to keep her safe and close to him.

Nicholas and I were relieved to get away from the river.

Rachel was too busy eating all of the Goldfish crackers to care about  snakes.



Nicholas found a cool leaf that he could see through. We talked about possible causes for the damage on the leaf. We looked at what appears to be spots where pests have eaten from the leaf but also pointed out the spots lower on the leaf which could be signs of distress or disease. I’m not sure what the actual cause for this effect is but it does make for a neat looking leaf.

lacy leaf 600x350

We spent a lot of time at the pond at the back of the property. I loved how the water calmed my active 6 year old boy and my busy, busy 2 year old girl.   Nicholas just stood there watching  fish hitting the water, birds flying overhead and bugs high and low.   Even busy Rachel stayed still for a while as Nicholas talked to her about what he saw.

2 kids looking through wooden fence 600x350I’m so proud of how he appreciates and loves nature. I know he’s picked it up from me but it was all inspired from my mom and that book she sent me when Nicholas was just a newborn – The Last Child In The Woods, by Richard Louv. Thank you, Mom, for realizing the importance of getting kids connected with nature at such an early age!

boy looking out over lake 600x350As we were about the leave the pond area, Nicholas discovered a spider web and as he looked more closely he found a dragonfly caught in the web. And it was still alive.   My little nature lover got upset and tried to rescue the dragonfly. We talked about the purpose of the web and how the spider might be hungry if we take away his food. Nicholas said that we had to rescue the dragonfly anyway. So we worked together and gently got him out of the web. It was neat watching him while he got his bearings before flying away.

dragonfly 600x350We found several neat things to study on an old tree stump near the bench. There was fungus and bugs and rotten wood, just to name a few.

boy and girl looking at tree stump 600x350We found more neat leaves. I like the polka-dot heart shaped leaf the best.

heart shaped leaf 600x350And when it was time to head out of the woods, Rachel decided that she would be the namesake for Louv’s book and truly be the last child in the woods.That girl wanted to stay and play with leaves, pick up sticks, and dig in the dirt all day! I tried the old trick of pretending to leave and telling her “bye” as I walked away. It didn’t register with her at all. She was content and she wanted to stay.

little girl on nature trail 600x350

I think I’ve got two little nature lovers in the making!

One Comment

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    this moment i am reading this wonderful informative post here at my home.

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