These days, it sure seems like most kids are attached to their television, computer or video games most of the time. Not to preach, but I sure do miss the days when kids would be outside playing all day long. The days when we didn’t want to go inside. The days when curfew wasn't a number on a clock, just whenever the street lights went on. The days when kids pretty much needed a bath everyday because you were filthy from playing hard.
My how things have changed.
That’s one of the reasons I took my kids to Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve. That, and it’s free. It was a somewhat nice Thursday afternoon and we were a bit bored. We headed over to the preserve, unpacked the double stroller, and walked the trails. You can go as slowly or quickly as you desire, taking whichever path you’d like. It was quiet, peaceful and lovely. We saw a few dozen people. They were running, walking, strolling, meditating, reading and bird watching. You can do what you’d like except hunt, fish or swim in the ponds. We brought a snack, and some water, which we enjoyed while making our way through the woods.
Reinstein Woods is quietly nestled in suburban Depew. It is a nice change from all of that suburban development that quite often does not respect the beauty of nature in all its glory. The stunning 292 acres – just a few miles from the hustle, bustle and congestion of Transit Road traffic - gets you up close and personal with nature. The woods and wetlands are home to many species of wildlife. During our walk we saw a few chipmunks, a variety of birds and a trio of turtles basking on floating logs. We could hear a woodpecker, but never did find him. We did not see any beavers building dams as my 4-year-old had hoped.
The preserve has an education center, restrooms and an awful lot of trees. The complex ecosystem is named after Dr. Victor Reinstein who grew up in Cheektowaga, graduated from the University of Buffalo School of Medicine and loved nature. His mother, Dr. Anna Reinstein was the first female obstetrician/gynecologist in Western New York. It really doesn't have anything to do with the preserve, but I found that pretty interesting. Reinstein Woods is one of only seven nature preserves protected by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
We walked around for a few hours – which flew by. We played detective, checking out just about everything along our path. Every footprint, downed tree branch, bridge and rock. The stroller was easy to push on the trails which are mainly made up of dirt and rocks, and the baby seemed to enjoy the ride, and the fresh air. There was just enough shade from the tall trees to keep you cool, with plenty of sunny spots, too.
If you are looking to take a hike and know just what to look for and at, you can join a trained volunteer any Saturday at 10 a.m. for a guided tour through the woods. It’s free, no registration is required and it lasts about 90 minutes.
There are other activities at Reinstein Woods including a “Kids in the Woods" summer program. Camp is broken down by age. There are week-long, three-day or even one-day camps all meant to help get kids outside and connected to nature. Prices and dates vary, but you can find more information at reinsteinwoods.org or by calling 683-5959.
Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve is a hidden gem and absolutely worth the walk. We will go back often, and hope to learn more with each visit. Hopefully, we will see that beaver building a dam at some point, too.
REINSTEIN WOODS NATURE PRESERVE
Where: 93 Honorine Drive, Depew (reinsteinwoods.org)