Mansfield opened the Elmer W. Oliver Nature Park in January, 2014, and it’s become one of our favorite places to go for mid-week fun and exploration! Of course, it’s just right down the street from us, but the 80 acres make it a fun place to visit, worthy of a drive from most parts of the DFW Metroplex! However, you won’t find swings, slides or athletic fields at the park, because the focus is all on nature!
We visit as often as we can, about once a week when we can. It’s dog-friendly and the trails are shaded for much of the park.
The trails are mostly gravel and flat, with little elevation change. The outer loop is a mile, with several shorter trails inside the loop. I’m a 3-mile hiker most days, that’s what I really enjoy, so I can do 3 big loops or explore the smaller trails.
Walnut Creek Linear Trail
The Outer Loop Trail also leads to the Concrete Walnut Creek Linear Trail, which leads you along Walnut Creek all the way to Hwy 360.
The City of Mansfield offers several different nature classes at the Oliver Nature Park, as well as hikes and even birthday parties!
Although the park closes at dark, guided night hikes are offered throughout the year, and on special request from groups. We had the opportunity to take a night hike with the park naturalist, and it was fantastic!
After assuring our group that we didn’t need flashlights, we put them away and headed off into the park!
Our adventure included a stop at the perch pond to learn about animals that live in or near the water, experiments along the trail involving our sense or smell and sight and then he used several different owl calls to teach us about these nocturnal raptors. Imagine our surprise when not only did one but two barred owls answer, then one flew up and landed in the tree closest to us!
Although it felt like we were watching the bird show at the Dallas Zoo, these were wild owls that live in the park! It was certainly an exciting addition to our hike!
We’ve taken MANY such nature classes at state parks and nature centers around the state, and this was definitely the most unique and one of our favorites!
Click HERE to visit the Mansfield website list of programs and dates.
There are several miles of paved bike trails, a portion of which runs through the park. Bikes are not allowed to ride on the crushed granite hiking trails, a big thumbs down for some park visitors.
There is a small fishing pond just beyond the restrooms at the entrance to the park. We spotted raccoon and possum tracks as we walked around the pond. This would be a great place to take a couple of marbles on a late spring or summer afternoon, and click them together. I bet you would be rewarded by the return call of some cricket frogs.
Scattered throughout the trails are these giant tree trunks, which are perfect photo ops! Several are facing different directions, making for good morning and afternoon pictures. I LOVE that the park saved these!
A 1930’s Monitor Windmill. That’s what the sign said, anyway.
I love this feature of the park, a raised boardwalk showing the 100 year floodplain level. While it’s only a few inches off the ground, the boardwalk helps you understand how high the waters would be during a flood, and how much of the surrounding land would be underwater!
There is an overlook at the Rocky Ford, an amazing and surprising geological formation in Walnut Creek. Of course, we didn’t want to look at it, we wanted to EXPLORE it! It’s worth noting that the city doesn’t make it easy to get down there, but it’s worth the climb.
My Mommy Tips:
Take plenty of drinking water with you.
There are REAL restrooms at the trailhead! Go!
Watch for wildlife and stay on the trails!
Elmer W. Oliver Nature Park
1650 Matlock Rd. Mansfield
Click HERE to visit the website
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