CEDAR FALLS – You don’t have to drive far to find a spectacle of fall colors and free family entertainment.
It’s as close as the Hartman Preserve, an urban woodland preserve with century-old white, red, and bur oaks, a rare grove of native Hawthorne trees, and massive cottonwoods.
“Right now it’s a great place to come and see the trees change color. The yellows and reds begin to pop. Fall is at its peak,” said Amy Davison, unit manager at the Hartman Reserve Nature Center, 657 Reserve Drive.
Black Hawk County Conservation staff will host an open house Oct. 16 from 2-4 p.m. featuring a variety of outdoor activities and upgrades such as a giant nest, new sugarhouse, fire pit, and Trail Rx. It is free and open to the public.
“We want to make people aware of all that Hartman has to offer. We’ve worked very hard to add lots of outdoor exhibits so that when families visit the Hartman Reserve, they have more to do. We were able to make these projects happen thanks to the generous donors and friends of the Hartman Reserve,” Davison said.
People also read…
The Nest, an amphitheater built to resemble a bird’s nest, will be used as an outdoor classroom for school programs and groups. A local artist was invited to paint a mural in the Nest depicting native Iowa birds.
Visitors can learn about the Trail Rx program, which is endorsed by All Trails and recommended by local healthcare providers. Staff will lead an easy walk on a Trail RX trail every half hour beginning at 2:00 p.m. from the parking lot.
Also at 2 p.m., “Creepy Crawlies” will teach kids and parents about the bugs and bugs that inhabit our world. Practical activities are planned. Registration is required and limited for this event at BlackHawkCountyParks.com.
A fire pit with seating is located on Pollinator Parkway on the reservation, and a child-sized sugar shack was built in the woods by members of Waverly-Shell Rock High School’s construction management class. , Davison said.
“Kids can play like they’re tapping a tree and making syrup,” she said.
Gardeners can enjoy the native plants and pollinating plants that grow at Hartman. “They are planted as an example of using native and prairie plants in your garden, if you like the wilder look. Or you can see what it looks like in a more polished style on Pollinator Parkway,” Davison explained.
Registration is now open for the 27th Annual Under the Harvest Moon, a major fundraising event for Black Hawk County Extension. The event will take place on October 28 at the Hartman Reserve Interpretive Building.
Happy hour, raffles, and silent auction begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by Moment In Thyme dinner and dessert, coffee by Cup of Joe, and live auction.
Reservations are required and limited in number at BlackHawkCountyParks.com. Registrations will be accepted until October 23 or until all places are claimed, whichever comes first. A vegetarian meal can be specified at registration.
Silent Auction items include a Cedar Valley Nature Trail Trolley Ride, Bernd’s Pond Water Fountain, Boone Dinner Train Gift Cards, a Nature Trail Tempera Painting, the Hartman Reserve by Dan Wilson, Send a Kid to Camp tickets and VIP treatment at Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, a Thanksgiving turkey from Solstice Farms, a boat ride on the Mississippi River, a pearl and turquoise rope necklace from BeadSpirit, a wine basket from Friends of Hartman Reserve and unique handmade items.
At the live auction, items such as a dinner for eight from Moment In Thyme, a behind-the-scenes tour of Omaha’s Henry-Doorly Zoo, a Maple Syrup Fest VIP table, and separate guided canoe trips / kayak (one whitewater) with Vern Fish, retired executive director of the Black Hawk County Conservation Board and now local adventure guide and naturalist.
“Produced to fund conservation projects and initiatives,” Davison said. “Black Hawk County Conservancy manages and maintains approximately 9,000 acres of public land and the funds will be used for everything from grassland management to campgrounds and parks.”
The BHCC also manages river access, public shooting and archery ranges, cabins, lodges, bike trails, geological sites, wildlife exhibits, and the Hartman Reserve Nature Center.
PHOTOS: Old church demolished in Cedar Falls