After our visit to Kilgore Falls, we drove a few minutes down the road to have a picnic lunch at Eden Mill Nature Center. It was the perfect location for a double adventure day.
First things first…we needed the bathrooms. We found them quickly but discovered that they are only open during programming so we were only left with a port-a-potty that was being sprayed out with a hose while we were standing there so that was a bit unpleasant. Not only did we have to wait when we were already at emergency level bathroom needs, but it was dripping wet while we used it. I digress. It wasn’t the nature center’s fault, just bad timing and frustrating that they had actual bathrooms right there but we couldn’t use them. Always have a pack of baby wipes and a bottle of hand sanitizer for hand washing if you do plan on picnicing.
After we ate, we visited the nature center and I don’t know what it was about that place but we absolutely loved it. We could have spent an hour in there exploring all the details. We have been to many, many nature centers as you can tell from the list. This was one of our favorites. There was a wide variety of taxidermy that was in very good condition and also accessible for viewing up close and personal. Most of the time at other centers, we see the taxidermy behind glass, on the wall or up high on a shelf. There were lives reptiles and amphibians on display and S was obsessing over the turtle pond. The employee brought out the 25 year old corn snake for the boys to see and touch which was very kind of him. I guess that makes us for the bathroom snafu.
Attached to the nature center is a grist mill museum. It’s not heated and has sort of a musty smell, but you can view the mechanics of the mill and see how they processed grain there using water power. Very cool!
I had looked up the trail map and trail distances prior to visiting and I was excited to see lots of loop options. I saw lots of distances like .19 miles, .3 miles, .17 miles and I thought this will be easy peasy to add on after our short waterfall hike earlier that day. I will tell you that the distances give you a little bit of a false sense of security and don’t provide any indication about the elevation changes in some locations. We took the stroller because I thought it would be doable but shortly after we started, we encountered a steep set of steps heading downhill. Not a huge deal, we have traversed worse with our stroller so hubby carefully maneuvered it down and we were good to go for quite a while. Don’t do what we did though, this is not a stroller friendly hike. We combined the Pollipot, Beaver Run, Laurel Ridge, and High Meadow trails for a total of about 1.32 miles. On the map you will see a little squiggly line at the end of (the aptly named) Beaver Run trail with a note that says switchbacks next to it. That was the most brutal part of the entire hike. Hubby had to turn around and go back the way we came with the stroller because it was extremely steep and narrow. I took the boys up that way because I wanted to complete a loop. They whined and complained the entire rest of the hike from that point. We were all pretty tired by then and to be honest I wanted to whine too but we finished it and I was sore for two days after.
This hike was so serene and peaceful (aside from the screaming kids.) The water was a very still blue-green and the only sounds were from birds chirping. We saw a ton of beaver evidence along the way which is a great educational tool. Challenge your kids to find as many beaver-chewed trees as possible as a scavenger hunt. It would be fun to keep count although we didn’t think of that at the time. We saw many slides where the beavers come and go from the water directly to a tree they are working on nearby. The paths were clearly worn and I was hoping to find some footprints in the mud, but we didn’t see any clearly defined prints.