I always love discovering hidden gems near me and it was kind of a fluke that I found Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve in Rochester. A random Google search pulled up the nature center’s program schedule, which included mentions of hiking options. After a more thorough search of their website, I registered my youngest niece and me for one of their many children’s programs.
I love being an aunt to my four nieces and one nephew. Ranging in age from 2 1/2 years to 18 years, they each hold a special place in my heart and touch my life in so many amazing ways. I love spending time with them and try to have one on one time when possible. So I was really excited to take the 2 ½ year old niece on our first one on one outing.
Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve is located just north of downtown Rochester, off of Rochester Road (south of Tienken) in a quiet neighborhood. It is located on 16 acres with miles of hiking trails running along and near Paint Creek, has a small nature center and an outdoor seating area for programs. The preserve’s trails are open to the public from dawn to dusk. Dinosaur Hill hosts many programs for children, families and individuals. They also host school field trips, summer camps and birthday parties.
The nature center is small but full of displays on animals and plants. Lots of pictures, books, activity stations and animal mounts explain facts about nature. Several dinosaurs were in the nature center – a stegosaurus was the perfect size for toddlers to sit on (good photo-op!), although the towering T.rex didn’t appeal to my little niece.
My niece and I attended one of the popular toddler programs for 2-4 year olds (I claim it’s popular because the first three classes I tried to register for were full). We were greeted by a very friendly staff person. There were nine other children in the class. We colored and worked on puzzles while we waited for class to begin. During class, the kids sat on colored carpet squares in a circle to hear a book about flying kites. We also played a game, then the kids and adults worked together to make a kite out of construction paper and string. We had fun outside trying to fly the kites (lots of good laughs!). After playing outside, we went inside the nature center for a snack of apple slices before heading to the trails to explore.
Dinosaur Hill has miles of well-groomed trails to enjoy. Some run along or near the creek (a bridge over the river connects several trails) and connect to the Paint Creek trail system. Most of the trails are flat so hardcore hikers might not get a challenge but you’ll still find beauty and quiet walking through the woods and meadow habitats. Although part of the City of Rochester’s park system, Dinosaur Hill is a nonprofit so memberships and volunteer opportunities are available, and donations are accepted.
I will definitely go back to Dinosaur Hill with the kids again, as well as with my husband. I discovered several geocaches in the area so want to plan a summer morning hike and geocaching with Justin, then lunch at Rochester Brewery.