Some days life is just too crazy. You sit down to relax and you turn on the television. The news is on, and immediately you feel overwhelmed again. You need some peace! What if you could find an oasis of peace in the middle of a bustling city?
Enter: Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary. Located in the Mattapan neighborhood of Boston, it really is an oasis of peace. The 67 acres of meadows, woods, and wetlands with 2.5 miles of trails and boardwalks provide a habitat for lots of wildlife. We saw a variety of butterflies and beetles, plants including the magnificent sweet pea and aspen trees, and birds like the one pictured, which swooped out screeching “caw, caw” as we passed him on the trails. (Part of a nature camp activity, no doubt!)
I spoke at length with the kind woman at the front desk who shared that she feels like she is entering a sanctuary as she approaches work each day. Imagine that! Every day you go to work feeling like you are entering a magical place of calm!
Here’s the good news… even if your work isn’t an oasis of peace, you too can enjoy the calm at Boston Nature Center!
As you turn onto the access road, you’ll notice some houses—the BNC Pathways to Nature Preschool! A preschool in this location—can’t be beat! In case you are interested, they accept children ages 2.9-6 years and have a sliding scale for tuition. Obviously there is a wait list.
Park in the gravel lot, and approach the large “George Robert White Environmental Conservation Center”. Just outside the front doors, you’ll notice an adorable pollinator garden. There’s a sign with photos of the different types of butterflies you might find. Indeed, we did see a few! So beautiful.
Head inside the building. You can pick up a trail map, ask any questions, make a donation, and learn a little bit about native wildlife. Pick up a Passport to Nature and get it stamped. Wike Baby and I are going to try to get all of the Mass Audubon Society locations stamped in her new “passport”—how fun! The nature center has a few interesting indoor exhibits. Take a look below at the bird photos with buttons to hear their calls. I recommend stopping there for a listen with your little one and then trying to identify a bird or two along your wike. (That’s all part of my scheme to get more kids out birding!)
Then, put your bug spray and hat on and head out to the trails. If you exit through the back door of the building and walk straight to take the Snail and Fox trails, you’ll feel transported to the middle of a remote forest. That is, until you see a few hints that you’re in the middle of the city, such as broken up old concrete or a sewer drain cover amidst the trees! You’ll hear honks and motors in the distance; just enough to remind you that there’s human life out there-- and to help you feel grateful for taking time for your own sense of peace!
The trails are mostly accessible for wheel chairs and strollers. A few areas are bumpier, but with some big wheels, you’ll manage just fine. When you’re traversing over one of the many boardwalks, look down to notice the material it’s made of—recycled plastic and cedar sawdust. Be sure to take the overlook boardwalk on Fox Trail for spectacular views of the wetlands. That’s where I really lost my bearing and forgot we were in the middle of Boston!
When you take Rabbit Trail, you’ll pass by the largest community garden in Massachusetts. Take a second to look around. I love checking out how different each plot looks in organization, decoration, and plant life, and I like to imagine who tends which plants!
If you wike all of the trails, it should be about 2.5 miles total. Before you leave, check out the “Nature Nook”. If you have toddlers or young children, allow yourself some time to spend there. It includes climbing and digging areas, an art center, and a building section. I personally enjoyed playing the wooden xylophone in their music center! Next time, I’ll have to bring along a child! (Besides Wike Baby, who just doesn’t seem ready to run around and climb things just yet…!)
All in all, we spent two hours at Boston Nature Center. That’s quite a long time for such a young babe! Honestly, I didn’t want to leave. If baby hadn’t been in need of a nap, we might have done the trails all over again. It just felt so peaceful.
We got back in the car. On the way home, baby started crying because she was tired, three cars cut me off, and two pedestrians just walked out to cross in the middle of the busy road… but I was a fortress of zen, thinking about our lovely day at Boston Nature Center.
If you’re looking for some peace in the middle of your hectic life, may I recommend wiking?! Old men, young children, and new moms love it. And if you’re in Boston, do check out the Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary!