Just Because It’s Cold Outside Doesn’t Mean Nature’s Out of Reach: Exploring the DelVal’s Open Spaces

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In the dead of winter, it can be a challenge for us North Easterners to get that “back to nature” feeling. Most of us (those without greenhouses) are no longer enjoying the bounty of our backyard (or front lawn) edible gardens. And as we go about our daily lives, we’re far more likely to rush between the car and the next warm building than to stop a moment and take in the winter landscape.

We may not be conscious of our detachment from nature, but we can feel its effects in seasonal mood shifts and the proverbial case of cabin fever. Fortunately, we can do more than simply wait for the spring thaw. On both the Bucks and Hunterdon “sides of the river,” abundant open spaces offer year-round opportunities to benefit from nature’s healing powers.

Here are a few possibilities.

Bowman’s Wildflower Preserve

This beautiful preserve, located off of Rt. 32 in New Hope, PA, is awash in native wildflowers at other times of the year. But Bowman’s also has a full calendar of winter events. In February, some highlights include workshops on landscape design, animal tracking and backyard foraging, a movie night and a four-day bird monitoring event, the “Great Backyard Bird Count.” You can learn more about Bowman’s winter lecture series (and membership opportunities) at www.bhwp.org. Or you can simply enjoy a mid-winter hike along the preserve’s many wooded trails.

Peace Valley Nature Center

Located on Chapman Rd, off Rt. 311 in Doylestown, PA, Peace Valley is a large preserve with 14 miles of hiking trails (some along Lake Galena) and a nature center dedicated to raising the ecological awareness of visitors of all ages. Some winter activities at Peace Valley Nature Center include a workshop on blue birds, a maple sugar day, an outing to observe American Woodcocks and an evening star watch. You can find more information about winter events (and membership) at  http://www.peacevalleynaturecenter.org/events/.

High Rocks

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Another great place to commune with nature out of season is High Rocks at Ralph Stover State Park. Located way off the beaten path in Pipersville, Pa,  High Rocks offers spectacular views of Tohicken Creek from atop 200-foot-high sheer rocky cliffs. The hike down to the water’s edge takes about 20 minutes. For more information about this and other Pennsylvania parks, check out http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/ralphstover/index.htm.

The Delaware Canal Towpaths

Lambertville-New Hope Bridge

Lambertville-New Hope Bridge

The heart of this beautiful area is, of course, its river. In mid-winter, the towpaths on both sides of the Delaware offer uniquely unobstructed views, allowing us to drink in the water’s soothing beauty.

Where are you reconnecting to nature this winter?

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