Effie Yeaw Nature Center


Effie Yeaw Nature Center is a little oasis right in the city! It’s easy to get to, the trails are short and sweet, and there’s so much to observe and learn. I took an few hours to lead a Hike It Baby hike there this week and it was so much fun!

Why we love it: The nature center itself has live animals (who doesn’t love seeing owls, snakes, and more?) and an Exhibit Hall that allows visitors to explore the natural and cultural history of the Lower American River. Make sure to grab a free map (and pay your $5 parking fee) before heading outside. We loved all of the animals the kids were able to see, and how much fun they had throwing rocks into the American River!

For the Young Ones (0-10): If you’ve taken your little ones on paved walks around town, this is a perfect next step to graduate up to dirt and more narrow trails (not designed for strollers or wheelchairs). Our group had kids age 2 – age 7, and each and every one were in awe of the deer, birds, and tadpoles we spotted.


For the Big Kids (10+): If big kids are interested in bird watching, this is a great spot! We saw many different kinds of birds, and even us adults were introduced to the red-breasted sapsucker.

Keep in Mind:

  • The nature center is inside Ancil Hoffman County Park. Driving along Tarshes Drive, just keep going and look for signs for the nature center and San Lorenzo Way.
  • Daily parking pass is $5, payable inside the nature center.
  • The American River is flowing fast right now. Take every caution near the water’s edge.
  • You may want to call ahead to make sure the nature center is accepting guests when you plan to go. They get extremely busy with field trips and summer camps, and may turn away groups during peak hours.

Around the Area: Home! It was so nice to be out in nature on a weekday, and still get home in time for dinner.

Difficulty Level: Beginner.


Inside the nature center.



Lodi Lake Nature Trail


A few weeks ago my little guys and I made the drive down to  Lodi Lake Park to check out the Lodi Lake Nature Trail…and I must say I was in heaven! It’s easy to get to the park from Hwy. 99, yet completely serene.


Why we love it: You feel as if you’ve traveled out of the city limits as you search for deer, ducks, turtles, birds, and squirrels along your way. It’s under two miles to do the entire thing, but feels as if you really got away.

For the Young Ones (0-10): Our soon-to-be kindergartener loved reading all of the signs along the route. I loved all the learning the signs provided both of us! Our durable stroller (think Uppababy Vista or BOB) easily conquered the trail.

For the Big Kids (10+): If you come at the right time and you’re quiet enough, there’s a strong possibility of seeing deer! An older gentleman showed us photos of large bucks he’s seen while taking his daily stroll on the trail.

Keep in Mind:

  • Dogs are not allowed on the trail.
  • Unless you find street parking outside of the park, you must pay a $5 parking fee.
  • There’s a very small parking lot right by the trail entrance, but if you’re like us you can park by the payment box (right past the entrance to the park), and enjoy a walk around part of the lake before reaching the trail area. (You’ll walk with the lake on your left.)

Difficulty Level:Beginner.