I hadn’t been to Tifft Nature Preserve since I was little, but my trip back made me wonder why I don’t go more often. As soon as you get out of your car, off your bike or simply walk onto the property, you are met with an instant serenity that is hard to find so close to a major roadway.
There are numerous trails with information stations on the pathways, so you can take a map to make sure you don’t get lost. Everything on the trail ways is well labeled, from signposts to additional signs with information about plants or why the trees are wrapped with chicken wire. You learn a lot by just walking around the park, but that shouldn’t deter you from attending one of their educational programs or guided walks.
Right outside the Makowski Visitor Center, which is covered with solar panels and sits right next to the water, are picnic tables. Some are in the shade, some in the sun, making it easy to find the perfect picnic spot. There are also many benches scattered through the preserve if you find the need to take a break.
The trails are not strenuous, well maintained and for the most part are on level ground. A powerful breeze comes off Lake Erie and keeps you cool while you are walking. You can also hear a symphony of birds and the occasional splash of a frog.
When you sit on a bench for a while, you will lose track of the different types of birds you will see and here. Luckily, Tifft has a bird blog, a pleasant surprise, with information about what birds have been spotted. The frogs are another delightful surprise. I’ve never see so many in my life, and every time I took a step, another three or four scattered out of my way. I also snuck up on a rabbit and some napping ducks, but the park is known for housing deer, muskrats, turtles and much more!
The wildlife was fantastic, but the flora I found on my hike also blew me away. There were cattails in the marshes, multiple species of trees lining the pathways and even a tree-planting project. There were Eastern Cottonwoods, butternuts, Shellbark Hickories, sycamores, basswoods, red maples, black willows, silver maples and Swamp White Oaks.
One of the great things about Tifft is that general admission is free. You don’t have to pay for taking a walk with the kids, searching for your favorite bird or having a picnic. And if you are interested in some of the educational programs or guided tours, they are extremely affordable, usually averaging about $6 a person. Tifft is also open year round and offers snow shoe rentals and cross country skiing in the wintertime. For more information about Tifft Nature Preserve, check out their website or call 716-825-6397. To find other great hiking, walking and picnicking stations like Tifft, check out our Go Outside Map.
To see more pictures from my Tifft Nature Preserve adventure, click here.