Approximately six miles of hiking trails of varying lengths allow visitors to experience several natural community types, including prairie, woodland, and wetland. Trail surfaces are packed rock, woodchips and mowed grass. Most trails are rated as "easy."
Interpretive signs along the trails offer visitors a chance to enhance their visit by learning about the flora and fauna found along the trails.
A handicapped-accessible observation deck offers the visitor a vista of the center's diverse natural communities. The deck elevates visitors above the tall grasses and forbs of the prairie offering them a view of a large wetland, which may provide sightings of waterfowl, shorebirds and basking turtles.
The woodland trails
take visitors through oak-hickory forests with upland and bottomland communities. Unique bridges, including a “troll bridge,” span several streams. In the spring the woods are filled with the songs of birds. Wildflowers, including bluebells, larkspur, Dutchman’s breeches, bloodroot and trout lily, decorate the trail.
Meandering curves through restored tallgrass prairie trails entice visitors to discover what is around the next bend. In the summer, prairie wildflowers bloom in all colors of the rainbow and are a flurry of activity as many species of butterflies visit them. Prairie forb species along the trail include blazing star, coneflower, compass plant, prairie dock, white indigo, partridge pea, aster and much more. Dominant grasses are big bluestem, little bluestem and Indian grass.
Wetland trails offer opportunities for viewing waterfowl, shorebirds, reptiles and much more. When walking around the wetland in the summer, visitors are likely to hear the plop of a frog jumping in, to view a large variety of zigzagging dragonflies, or to spot a northern water snake sliding across the water. In the spring, the sound of calling frogs and toads ring loud and clear.
Download: Ballard Nature Center Trails Map