By Gina V. Ramsey
When looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city while staying close to home, head to the oasis that is El Dorado Nature Center. A favorite destination for school field trips, where children get an up close and personal experience to commune with nature, this haven is also a wonderful outing for anyone looking for a moment of peace.
Located off Spring Street between the 605 Freeway and San Gabriel River, the 105 acres provide a sanctuary for animals and plants. Upon entering through the gates, you will immediately feel a sense of calm. Choose to wander on either the ¼-mile paved trail or the 2 miles of dirt trails that meander around two lakes, a stream, and a forest area. Across a wooden bridge lies the Visitor Center cabin that contains educational displays, an art gallery, and a small gift shop that offers nature and environment-themed items. A favorite of locals is the center’s summer Nature Night Walks, a guided nighttime tour to quietly spy on the nocturnal activities of wildlife.
During the day, come spend some reflective moments on the bridge and admire the stillness of the Slider turtles as they bask in the sunshine on floating platforms on the lake. An occasional duck may waddle over to hang out with these stoic creatures. Closer to the water’s edge among the shadows of tall cattail plants you might spot a beautiful white egret poking around for food.
Continue along the trail, looking out for motionless stubby lizards that may suddenly dart across your path. Or keep an eye on busy squirrels running to and fro, fluffy tail at attention, digging under grasses and fallen leaves. Look around at the bushes that hide tiny colorful flowers that, when viewed as a whole, give the foliage around you an ethereal glow. Walk through the forested areas, under natural tree arches that make you feel like you are miles and miles away from traffic and nagging bosses.
Find a hidden bench among giant tree leaves and branches that curve down like a veil and look across the lake, perhaps spotting fish swimming by. The calming effect of this place will permeate into your mind and heart, and as you leave, you will be thinking about when next you may return. Happy trails!
7550 E. Spring St.
Tuesday-Sunday: 8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.