Explore Nature!

Cincinnati Parks Foundation is proud to sponsor Explore Nature! programming and its mission – to educate people of all ages about our relationship with nature and to instill enthusiasm about the natural and historical resources within Cincinnati Parks. The Foundation has provided more than $100,000 for nature education, with a focus on Nature Next Door.

Explore Nature! provides a variety of opportunities to learn and interact with nature in the Queen City.


Program Lisitings
Nature Centers & Preserves

Cincinnati Parks offers programming and education for all ages at its five nature centers located around the city. Krohn Conservatory, our beautiful showcase of a greenhouse in Eden Park, also features special programs for the general public and for schools. Our archives and library are located at the Bettman Natural Resource Center. Reserve a Nature Center! See below for more information regarding special features and programming at all of these unique facilities:
avon-woodsAvon Woods Nature Center 4235 Paddock Road
Ph: (513) 861-3435
The Avon Woods Natural Area/Preserve is located only four miles from downtown Cincinnati. It features rolling hills, hiking trails, a stream-cut valley and community gardens. The trails are easy to locate and rated as moderate hiking. Avon Woods’ programs serve participants citywide and are designed for preschool age through senior citizens.
beetmanBettman Natural Resource Center 4 Beech Lane
Ph: (513) 321-6070
This is where Cincinnati Parks houses its rich collection of books and other materials regarding its history as well as nature education. Bettman also has a small nature preserve that is wheelchair accessible. The library and archives are open to the public by appointment; our volunteer staff is available on Tuesdays from Noon to 2pm. Please call 513.321.6070 for an appointment.
caldwellCaldwell Nature Center 430 W. North Bend Road
Ph: (513) 761-4313
These parklands have a long history, going back to Cincinnati’s earliest days. Today Caldwell has approximately 3.5 miles of nature trails and a variety of wildlife (including a flying squirrel population that can be spotted gliding among the treetops in the evenings) and wildflowers. Near the Nature Center is an amphitheater and an Access Trail so that even wheelchair users can venture into the woods. A deck along the Access Trail overlooks the ravine and creek, providing a lovely view in all seasons.
californiaCalifornia Woods Nature Center 5400 Kellogg Ave.
Ph: (513) 231-8678
This park is set on 113 acres of pristine forest that includes 53 tree species, as well as, dozens of plant and flower species; Lick Run Creek runs through this nature preserve, and is home to wildlife that is a treat to see, such as kingfishers or snapping turtles. On one of California’s hiking trails, look for pileated woodpeckers and even great horned owls at home among the tall sycamores. There’s also a butterfly and hummingbird garden located directly in front of the nature center.
laboiteauxLaBoiteaux Woods Nature Center 5400 Lanius Ln.
Ph: (513) 542-2909
LaBoiteaux offers busy city-dwellers a true retreat into nature and local history. The hundreds of acres that make up LaBoiteaux Woods are home to deer, red and gray fox, mink, hawks, owls and turtles, and those woods are accessible via four miles of hiking trails. A rustic nature center houses nature displays, animal mounts, live animals, and a small nature library.
trailsideTrailside Nature Center Burnet Woods
Ph: (513) 751-3679
The Trailside Nature Center is located in Burnet Woods Park, adjoining the University of Cincinnati and one of Cincinnati’s oldest parks. It includes a children’s museum, a handicap-access meeting room for nature education programs, and a fishing lake created in 1875. While you’re at Burnet Woods, check out the schedule for the newly reopened Wolff Planetarium.

Birthday Parties

For Ages 5 – 12

*Most weekends are available August 15 – April 15 but call 321-6070 to check on availability during unlisted dates.

For a two hour party at a Nature Center, the Naturalist provides 90 minutes of fun-filled nature activities such as a short hike, hands-on activities, and a simple craft to keep as a memento. Please schedule at least 3 weeks in advance of your proposed dates.

Fee: $150 for up to 10 children; $15 for each additional child.

If more time is needed for the food and gift portion of the party, the cost is $25 for each additional 30 minutes.


*Creepy Crawly (Insects, Spiders, Reptiles and Amphibians)

*This theme is more appropriate during the Spring and Fall months.

Outside: Bingo hike; Insect Hunt with nets and games such as Creepy Crawly Crunch, Eeek! Spider! or Lemonade will be played.

Inside: “What is an Insect vs Spider” presentation; Live animal presentation and a choice of craft, such as the Turtle Shell Hide or Climbing Spider.

Activities for older participants may include: Quick Frozen Critters game; frog catch craft (an adaptation of the ball in the cup craft); and a deeper investigation on common insects and how to identify them on the hike.

Forest Friends

Outside: Camouflage Hike which will include an activity where two teams take turns hiding and finding different color cut-out rabbits and Forest Friends Bingo. Games include Fox and Rabbit, Camouflage and Animal Catchers.

Inside: Taxidermy and live animal presentation; mammal puppet craft.

Activities for older participants may include: How Many Squirrels Can Live in This Forest and Bat and Moth games outside. Craft for this age group may include the Bat Catch (an adaptation of the ball and cup craft).

Winged Wonders (Birds, Butterflies and Bats)

Outside: Bingo hike; Games such as Birds-n-Worms and Build a Bird relay race.

Inside: Depending on the topic chosen, “How do birds and others fly” presentation, Feather Fun and Build a Bird activity. Craft choices are Butterfly Clothes Pin Craft; Tic-Tac-Toe Birds or Butterfly Suncatchers

Activities for older participants may include: Scavenger Hunt; Migration Headache game; Paper Animal flying contest.

Fantastic Fossils

*not available at Trailside in Burnet Woods or Avon Woods (no creek for fossil hunting).

Outside: Fossil Hike in creek. Game: Fossil puzzle relay race and Trilobite Tag.

Inside: ”How did fossils form” presentation; Fossil Bingo and Fossil Wheel Craft.

Activities for older participants may include: Fossil card slap game; Fossil Cootie Craft.

Scout Programs

Scout Registration Form

If you would like additional information on Cincinnati Parks’ various types of scout programs and opportunities, please click on the appropriate link below:

Girl Scouts
American Heritage Girls
Cub Scouts
Boy Scouts

Online Registration

2016 Fall (September – November)



Friday, October 21st and Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 7:00 – 8:30 PM
at Caldwell Nature Center 430 West North Bend Rd., 45216 (Carthage/Hartwell)

Walk through a pumpkin-lit trail and meet costumed characters from nature and history. This is a non-scary holiday walk best suited for children ages 3-10. We request a ration of one adult for every 4 children.

Hikes start at 7pm with the last hike leaving at 8:30pm. For each time slot, there are three hike groups of approximately 25 people. As much as possible, we organize hike groups during time slots by type: scouts, youth groups, families with young children, and families with older children. Hike groups are sent out every 5 minutes within their time slot. Each hike lasts approximately 1 hour.

Cost is $6 per person. There is a $3.00 administrative fee (per order, not per ticket). Children 2 and under are FREE. Paid reservations required. For more information, please call (513) 321-6208.

Register Here

Fall 2016 Homeschool Programs

Cincinnati Park Naturalists provide a local resource for homeschooling families through weekday natural history and science programs that are educational and encourage hands-on learning. Join other homeschoolers for fun and learning! Register online at: https://parks.cincyregister.com/homeschoolfall16 for the programs listed below.

Tuesday, October 4 – 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Caldwell Nature Preserve
430 West North Bend Rd, 45216 (Carthage)

A lively series of demonstrations introduce participants to how air, water and heat produce Earth’s weather. Children learn how to read a weather map. They perform experiments introducing air pressure, convection currents and discover cloud types bring different types of weather. On a hike, we measure microclimates and look for the effects of weathering and erosion. Pack a lunch and drink; dress for outdoor activities rain or shine.

Thursday, November 10 – 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
California Woods Nature Preserve
5400 Kellogg Avenue, 45230 (Mt. Washington/Anderson Twp.)

How did pioneer children and families live in the early 1800’s? Learn how children and families lived in 1803 the year of the Louisiana Purchase and Ohio’s statehood. See how lifestyle challenges, religion, and traditions help shape Cincinnati. Play an “Oregon Trail” style game and make choices and “purchases” for your interactive journey west. On your trek, encounter characters such as a school teacher and medicine woman. Bring a lunch with a drink and dress for the weather. Adults assisting children with program activities are not charged the fee.

FOR AGES 5 AND UPThursday, December 8 – 10 – 11 a.m. OR 1 – 2 p.m.
(Choose only one session; program activities repeat) Trailside Nature Center in Burnet Woods
3400 Brookline Drive, 45220 (Clifton)Experience the oldest planetarium west of the Allegheny Mountains. Discover stars, constellations, galaxies and more. Learn the stories behind Orion, the Big and Little Dippers and many other constellations in the night time sky. The program includes information pertaining to how stars form and function, star types, nebulas, novae and more.

WELCOME ALL: Daisy, Brownie, Junior and Cadette Girl Scouts!

Register Here!

Saturdays in February, 2017 at the Marian J. and Charles D. Lindberg Nature Center
in California Woods Nature Preserve
5400 Kellogg Avenue, 45230 (Mt. Washington / Anderson Township)

Learn the history and mystery of Ohio’s oldest sweet……Maple Sugar! We will tap maple trees, collect sap and learn how to turn it into the yummy stuff we all know so well. Meet other troops and ages along the way! After all that work, come inside the center and enjoy some pancakes, sausage and real maple syrup.

These programs fill very quickly so reserve your spot early. Please only choose one program date and time; programs are identical.

Cost is $8 per person which includes girls scouts, scout leaders and chaperones. There is a $3.00 administrative fee (per order, not per person). Paid reservations required.

For more information, please call (513) 231-8678.

Register Here!