Bernheim provides winter activities

By Amy Joseph Landon

Source: The News-Enterprise
By Becca Owsley
December 31, 2020

The adventure doesn’t stop at Bernheim Arboretum and Re­search Forest just because the weather has turned cooler.

Amy Landon, manager of communications and marketing, said the winter months allow visitors to see much more of the forest.

“You can see the architecture of trees from trunk to branch,” she said. “You can see through the trees to see the outline of the knobby landscape that makes central Kentucky’s beauty so spectacular — from hills and ridges down to valleys and creeks.”

There are small pops of color to see all year long, Landon said, adding the color can be seen against the monochromatic palette of winter.
“On a particularly cold day, observe the ice cascades falling from Kentucky’s signature limestone and experience nature’s art as ice crystals form over rock beds and creeks,” she said.

Winter is a good time to explore with your ears as well, Landon said.

“With the absence of foliage from the trees, sound travels better, so you often hear animals stirring long before you can see them — deer, turkeys, hawks and even eagles,” she said. “Through these quieter, colder months, you’ll also notice the peace and calm of the forest as many animals have migrated or hibernated.”

This kind of quiet peace is important right now, Landon said.

“Nothing is a more magical sound than the crunching of leaves underfoot or the gurgling or trickling of water under a frozen creek,” she said.

To help you explore, Bernheim has a few winter programs.

One is the Winter Wander and Observation Hike from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. The walk is to notice the spaces and shapes created by the bare bones of trees and colors and textures in the landscapes. Interpretive Programs Manager Wren Smith and Bernheim naturalists will lead each hike. It’s recommended for adults but children 10 years and older are welcome.

Another program is getting to know trees in winter. This program is from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Jan. 9. Visitors can learn to recognize trees in the winter with Smith.

A limited number of participants are allowed in both programs to adhere to social distancing and masks are required.

The cost for each program is $10 for Bernheim members and $12 for non-members. Registration is required by 4 p.m. the day before. To register or for more information, call 502-955-8512 or go to

“Our winter programs are a great way to get outside and experience the sights and sounds of nature,” Landon said. “Each hike will be led with a member of our award-winning education team, who are experts at not only learning about the plants and animals that reside in our forest, but also find ways for visitors to find a deep connection with nature and take the lessons learned and emotions felt with them outside of the forest borders.”

Being outdoors in winter, she said, is a way to feel connected to the land in new ways.

Bernheim also offers forest homeschool hikes in the winter to provide learning, exercising and adventure for children in kindergarten through fifth grade.

The hikes aren’t limited to traditional homeschooling with many families learning from home during the pandemic, Landon said.

“We know many parents not only want to get their kids out of the house and into nature, but many can also use the teaching support,” she said. “The aim of the programs is to provide a hands-on science lesson to all kids grade K-5.”

Landon said the program includes a short lesson and a hike that relates to the theme of the week.

“Along the hike, kids will experience science in real-time and away from a screen or book,” she said. “Nature-based education like these hikes, provides experiential learning that will resonate with students far beyond the one-hour program.”

The cost is $6 per student for Bernheim members and $8 per student for non-members.

Landon said nature should be experienced year round and there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

“Be sure to dress properly for the weather, we recommend wearing layers and you’ll warm up the more you move,” she said.

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