Getting Close to Nature at Martin Park Nature Center - MetroFamily Magazine
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Getting Close to Nature at Martin Park Nature Center

by Sara Riester

Reading Time: 3 minutes 

Hello all! I’m so excited that Brooke has allowed me to take over her blog once in a while to bring you tips on fun things to do in the metro. Working as the Calendar Editor at MetroFamily has really introduced me to many venues and exciting events that I would not have otherwise known about. 

I have wanted to take my children to Martin Park Nature Center since I first discovered it during my quest to bring you the best events OKC has to offer. My 5-year old son loves plants, creeks and everything outdoors, so it was a natural choice for a family outing and something that would be easy on our pocketbook.

Martin Park Nature Center is a recreational area and wildlife sanctuary nestled on 144 acres on the city’s northwest side, right next to Mercy Hospital. It is home to many species of animals including birds, butterflies, squirrels, fox, reptiles, deer, armadillos and more.

We began our adventure at the education center where we were able to view several animals such as birds, tarantulas, hissing cockroaches and reptiles as well as educational exhibits about plants and animals found in the park. The education center is nice and cool with clean restrooms.

We then headed out on the trails for a hike with our 5-year old son and 2-year old daughter in tow. The trails are well marked with maps at nearly every junction, so we felt comfortable exploring on our own. They are a mix of gravel and packed soil, which make them very easy to walk on. One graveled trail is even wheelchair accessible. There are some moderate slopes and a couple of steep drop offs along the way, but nothing too difficult.There are several benches along the trail where you can sit to rest or just enjoy the peace and quiet while observing the wildlife. Although the temperature was hovering around 90 degrees on our trip, we were very comfortable in the abundant shade on the trails. My son’s favorite part was hiking down the little trail to the creek where he enjoyed dipping his feet in the water and finding shells in the rocks.

After about an hour of hiking, we headed back to the lake near the entrance where we saw geese, turtles, ducks and lots of catfish. On a tip from a friend, we brought some cat food with us and were able to feed the animals in the lake. (The park asks that you feed the animals cat or dog food instead of breadcrumbs and crackers because it is more nutritionally balanced.) Watching the fish swarm up from under the water was definitely a highlight for our daughter.

Near the entrance to the park, there is a very new-looking, nature-themed playground with slides, a spinner, binocular stands and plenty of places to climb. Also near the entrance is a covered picnic area with several tables in case you should like to pack a lunch.

Where to go:

Martin Park Nature Center
5000 W Memorial, OKC
405-755-0676,
www.okc.gov/parks/martin_park/
FREE admission

When to go:

Wednesday-Sunday, 9am-6pm (Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays as well as all City holidays and the week between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day)

Martin Park hosts many education programs and hikes. Most of these programs are FREE, but some of the craft programs require a fee for the cost of supplies. Their website has a full schedule of events. In addition to its public programs, Martin Park welcomes school, home school and scout groups. Special guided tours are available for groups, with advance reservations.

This weekend's event:

  • Saturday, June 16—Nesting Shelf at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial, OKC) invites children 6 & older to make a bird shelter to invite birds into their backyards. Children must attend with adult. Preregister. $5. Saturday, 2pm. 755-0676, www.okc.gov/parks/martin_park.

Later this month:

  • Saturday, June 30—Dads & Daughters at Martin Park Nature Center (5000 W Memorial, OKC) invites Dads and their daughters of all ages to collect clay soil from the park and use it to make clay pottery. $2. 10am. 755-0676, www.okc.gov/parks/martin_park/index.

What to bring:

  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Hats
  • Sunglasses
  • Water to drink
  • Cat or dog food (if you want to feed the fish)
  • Good closed-toe shoes for walking

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