According to Nugget- no play structure, no park. He corrects me everytime I say “let’s go the park” and I mean Tualatin Hills Nature Park. “It’s not a park, mom. There’s not a playground.” Or, “a real one, or the walking one?” That said, he always has a blast once we get there.
Tualatin Hills Nature Park actually has a lot going on. When you first arrive, you see the visitors center. There is a small garden in the front and kids (or grownups), can look at plants through a telescope/microscope. My kids love that. Inside, they can use microscopes to look at different things like snake skin, a birds nest, honey comb, things like that. There are cards kids can use to write their favorite thing about nature and add it to the collection on the designated wall. There are books to look at, animal pelts and skeletons to check out, and a fireplace to sit by on a cold day. We always take a lingering look. Also while here, check out their upcoming events. They are often hosting day camps, evening activities, the nature mobile, or have other fun activities for kids of all ages as well as adults. This is also the home of the bathroom, so make sure those littles have a visit!
One of the cool things kids can do is approach the staff member and ask for a letter boxing map. For those not in the know, letter boxing is kind of like simplified geocaching. The map has clues and you follow them to specific locations in the park. There you will find a little box containing paper, pencils, and a stamp. You can sign the papers with your name or leave a little note for others. You use the stamp to mark your map. When you are done, the kids can turn the completed map in and get a pocket sized journal as a prize. This activity totally makes my kids feel like real explorers. And man can they get competitive about solving the clues and finding the boxes!
There are multiple trails that take you through the nature park. The main path is flat and paved, while the side trails can be dirt and have stumps or roots protruding. None of them are steep and as long as your little is a stable walker, they should be fine on any of them
If you look closely, you will see birds, bugs, squirrels, rabbits, and even beavers. The whole area is shaded, making it perfect for a summer afternoon. The air is clean, the foliage is beautiful, and entry and parking are free. What more could you ask for?
What it is: shady, pretty, fun, free, active
What it’s not: a playground. 🙂
Do we recommend it? Totally!
You can find their address and other information here: http://www.thprd.org/parks-and-trails/detail/tualatin-hills-nature-park