Explore the Outdoors at Hays Nature Preserve | Rocket town mom





Bar Lake in the Hays Nature Reserve is a fun place to fish or take a walk with the family.






If your family enjoys spending time outdoors and doesn’t mind getting dirty every now and then, then a trip to Hays Nature Preserve would be perfect for your driveway. Located in Owens Cross Roads, off of Highway 431 S, Hays Nature Reserve is a hidden gem, with over 10 miles of trails and greenways that run along the Flint River. It is a great place to come with your whole family, including dogs on a leash.

The playground at Hays Nature Preserve

When we got to Hays we chose to park in the natural playground, located near the entrance. Once parked, my children were delighted to see the Terrame Natural Playground. A natural playground is a playground developed using elements of nature, such as water, trees, sand, and earth, in the design and structure of the playground. This is beneficial for children. children because it promotes more imaginative and open play and allows them to be more practical in a natural setting.

The playground blends in beautifully with the surrounding trees. There is a giant two-story fort that my son immediately encountered. The fort even has a climbing wall that kids can climb to the next level. Right next to the fort is a Hill slide, on which my two year old had fun climbing up and down the muddy hill instead of the intended plastic slide.

Besides the fort and the Hill Slide, my kids liked the music station the most. Made up of colorful drum buckets and reused pipes, the kids loved tapping the different instruments and practicing their acoustic skills.


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Kids have so many different spaces to play and create, but the wooden swings, play kitchen, swing bridge, and Swamp Moat (which can also serve as a stage) stood out the most. The playground featured several small picnic tables for families to grab snacks and a covered educational pavilion, conveniently located near the washrooms. There was even a free library box full of wonderful books.

The playground is ideal for all ages and allows children to have a full physical and sensory experience in a beautiful natural setting. Just be sure to bring extra clothes / shoes and maybe even a towel if you choose to go after rainy weather. !

There are public toilets in the playground and we have used them a lot. There are women’s and men’s booths, each with a changing table, and the toilets were heated, adding a nice feature for cooler days.

There is plenty of room to climb and explore.

Trails

After letting them run, we took the kids’ bikes out for a ride. We started our ride at Bar Lake (located across from the playground) and saw that you can actually fish in the lake. There are rules for fishing, and while Bar Lake does not require a fishing license, fishing in the nearby Flint River does, so keep that in mind. We followed the asphalt road on a small path and stayed on the right side as it is a road shared by cars, cyclists and walkers. The entrance to Flint Trail was across from the lake and we saw several people, with their dogs on a leash, entering the trail.

The asphalt road is the only one that leads inside and outside the reserve, so you need to keep an eye out for cars. We didn’t follow the road all the way, but it connects to the green space and golf course behind the Publix on US-431 S, so you can always start your walk at the other end of the reserve.

See also

There is something for everyone at Hays Nature Preserve

Children can explore several areas in the natural playground.

Besides the Flint Trail and the Terrame Natural Playground, there is so much to do in Hays! There are over 10 miles of trails and greenways to explore! You can hike while bird watching, kayak the Flint River, try orienteering on the Flint Trail, or enjoy one of the many horse trails. Girl Scout Troop 455 even did some research on the animal track identification trail around Bar Lake.


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Hays also offers free events, such as Yoga by the River, and these events are usually displayed on the large activity board located at the entrance to the playground.

During the warmer months, it will probably be a good idea to bring sunscreen and bug spray as there are a lot of trees and water bodies around. We visited at the end of winter so didn’t have to worry so much but I can see that it helps to bring these items for the sunnier and warmer times. My family really enjoyed our first visit to Hays and can’t wait to go back in warmer weather.

Plan your visit to Hays Nature Reserve

Address: 7153 Hwy 431 S. Owens Cross Roads, Huntsville (Map)
Hours: from sunrise to sunset
Cost: Free, but donations can be made to the Huntsville Green Team.
View website | Follow Operation Greet Team on Facebook for Hays events


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Nalee suh

Nalee Suh is an Atlanta transplant worker who has lived in Huntsville since 2013. A stay-at-home mom to two adorable young children, she now finds time to come back to what she loves. She and her husband own Huntsville’s Classy Beauty Supply, a fun retail business that keeps her in the beauty world! When she’s not chasing after her two little ones or fulfilling her role at work, she enjoys trying everything new: bakeries, parks and playgrounds, cafes, shops and restaurants!


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