Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” Scientists have proven that Thoreau was onto something. Studies have shown that being in nature can greatly reduce stress and the physical ills that accompany it.
Luckily, in North Texas, mild temperatures allow residents to enjoy all of nature’s benefits year-round. And, the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area (LLELA) provides the perfectly preserved venue filled with monthly activities.
“LLELA preserves native habitats that have almost entirely vanished in the DFW area. We preserve what quality habitats we have, and through ecological restoration, continually improve areas on our site that have been disturbed in the past by agriculture and other human activities,” says Lisa Cole, LLELA education coordinator.
She credits the success of the programs and offerings at LLELA to the support and dedication of its volunteers.
“We have a thriving volunteer community, which is deeply involved in almost all aspects of our mission, from restoration to research to environmental education.”
A Walk in the Woods
Some of the most popular activities at LLELA are its various walks.
“We offer a bird walk the second Saturday of every month, except July and August, at 7:30 a.m. Nature Walks are the first Saturday of each month at 10 a.m.,” Lisa says.
Birders of all skill levels are invited to join an expert birder on the Bird Walks, which take place along LLELA’s nature trails. Those ages 10 and older are welcome to take part.
The monthly Nature Walks are led by a naturalist. Each season brings different discoveries, including deer tracks, autumn leaves, blooming wildflowers, nesting songbirds, butterflies and more. Nature Walks last about two hours. All ages are welcome.
“Visitors on both walks can learn about native ecosystems and wildlife,” Lisa says. “The Bird Walk is focused on birds, but the Nature Walk is more general and varies in theme each month depending on the trail guide who leads it.”
A Chance to Hike
LLELA’s newest program, A Chance to Hike, offers guided nature walks for the members of the special needs community. These hikes take place along the wide and level crushed-granite surface of the Cottonwood Trail. Hikers may see signs of deer, coyote, bobcats or armadillos during the mile-long hike.
“A Chance to Hike is a very new program. We would like to include a greater variety of audiences in our guided hikes,” Lisa says.
Saturday at the Cabin
LELLA offers a look into frontier life with this open-house event that takes place most months. Visitors can tour the Minor-Porter Log Cabin to experience life in Denton County circa 1870. Visitors can arrive at any time during the three-hour open house and tour at their own pace.
“We offer this event most months on the third Saturday from noon until 3 p.m.,” Lisa says. “A volunteer with expertise related to the house will open the buildings so visitors can take a look inside and share information about late 1800s Denton County and the Minor family, who lived in the house then.”
Holiday-related events at LLELA during the months of November and December include #OptOutside, a guided night hike that takes place at midnight on Thanksgiving, and Christmas at the Cabin on Dec. 21.
Those who choose not to fight the holiday shopping crowds and the midnight madness of Black Friday can #OptOutside and visit LLELA for a calming midnight moonlit hike instead.
Christmas at the Cabin will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 21. This old-fashioned event offers a glimpse of Christmas past at the historic Minor-Porter Log Cabin. Visitors can make a corn husk doll or ornament, create a hand-dipped candle, sing carols and sip hot cider by the fire.
Back to Nature
Whether visitors are bird enthusiasts, avid hikers, lovers of simple strolls in the woods or history buffs, LLELA has something for everyone. The vast 2,600-acre nature preserve is a treasure to the community, offering a healthy dose of nature and a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
“LELLA is a respite from busy urban locations for many people who visit here alone or with families,” Lisa says.
For more information about LLELA, visit LLELA.org.