When the sun is shining on a crisp fall day, there’s not much better than taking a hike in the woods. So I decided to do just that and headed to the Stage Nature Center in north Troy. Several friends have recently mentioned this conveniently located nature center and surrounding trails. I have never personally checked it out but with its easy access and location, it seemed a great choice. And I happily discovered a nice quiet wooded getaway in the city.
The nature center is operated by the Troy Nature Society, a nonprofit that oversees the daily operation and maintenance of the nature center, as well as hosting numerous school, scout and public programs throughout the year. The nature society also offers a Junior Naturalist program for ages 4 – 5th grade.
The nature center is a nice size with exhibits, a cozy library, aquariums housing toads, snakes and more, and classrooms/meeting rooms. A mastodon dig near the lobby is great for young children to imagine being a paleontologist. In the back of the center, a large live bee hive is on display. I love that there are benches and chairs placed along the back wall windows inside the nature center, encouraging patrons to relax and watch the many birds and wildlife outside. Once outside, you’ll find a maple syrup shed for teaching programs, bird houses that attract a lot of birds (and a few rogue squirrels), and the trails.
The trails are easy to hike with a few mild hills, wooden steps and boardwalk. The longest trail, the Blackbird Loop, is .70 mile. I hiked all of the trails to get a feel for the land and enjoy the fresh air. The Rouge River cuts through the property trails, although it’s a very mild, slow-moving section. There is ample signage and the trails are well-groomed.
As I was thinking that I hadn’t seen much wildlife, I walked around a curve and stopped short as a young deer was standing in the middle of the trail! I stood very still, softly talking to her, then noticed two other deer wandering closer. We all watched each for a few more minutes before the deer must have decided I wasn’t a threat as she wandered off the trail and began munching on a bush.
I came across an outdoor classroom, perfect for hosting education programs. As I sat on a bench to enjoy the vibrant colors of the trees, another deer wandered through the front of the “classroom.” I chuckled as she paused to look at me – maybe she was going to teach a class!
I really enjoyed my visit to the Stage Nature Center and will definitely return to hike and see what’s new with the wildlife.
The Stage Nature Center is open to the public on Saturdays from 10am-4pm and Tuesday-Friday from 9am-3pm (closed holidays). Trails are open dawn to dusk. There is no fee to visit the nature center or trails – donations are accepted. Membership and volunteer opportunities are also available.
Do you have a favorite local park? If so, which one?