This past Sunday, before the Bills game, I ended up taking a walk through Reinstein Woods nature preserve… for the first time ever! This 292-acre nature preserve is located in such close proximity to Buffalo, that I’m ashamed that I have never paid a visit up until this point. Maybe it’s because Tifft and Times Beach preserves are closer to my house? No matter, it simply took a phone call from my mother-in-law, who told me that she was heading to Reinstein Woods with a friend. I told her that I would be delighted to go on the trek with them, and before I knew it we were heading to a magical destination just outside of the city limits to explore the natural surroundings.
When we got the preserve, the first thing that I noticed was that there was a charging station for electric cars – something that I though was a nice welcoming touch. I also spied a giant metal flower sculpture that was fashioned using discarded items, such as hubcaps.
At the entranceway to the preserve, there was informational signage, along with handy brochure maps. One must remember that 292-acres is not simply a walk in the park, there are a lot of paths and trails, so it’s nice to be able to navigate efficiently.
Since we paid a visit to the preserve on a Sunday, the Education Center was closed, which was OK by me, because I really wanted to spend as much time as possible outdoors. That said, the Education Center is a great place for families because when it’s open there are always all sorts of interactive activities to partake in. There are also a number of informational guided tours, year round.
For the kids, there is a Nature Play Area, near the entranceway to the preserve. This is a great place to meet others, while allowing youngsters to play in a safe outdoor environment. It’s the perfect place to start the day, before the nature trek, or end the day, to wait for the stragglers.
Since the Education Center was not open, we came across a couple of girls sitting at a table (along a path) who helped us to identify animal tracks. This is the type of educational element that kids love, and it’s even a challenge for adults. After all, when was the last time that you spotted a coyote track, or a fox track, and knew the difference?
One of the aspects of the preserve that makes it so unique is the Water Lily Ponds. In the spring, these ponds are bursting at the seams with floating pink flowers, similar to a Monet painting. Even in the fall, remnants of the water lilies can be seen. These vast expanses of flowers are truly exceptional. They are one of the elements that set Reinstein Woods apart from the rest. The ponds are also crucial to preserving the wildlife in the area.
And it’s all thanks to Dr. Victor Reinstein who acquired the land in 1932 as a private sanctuary. Within three decades he had planted 30,000 trees, and constructed 19 ponds, marches, and swamps (according to my pamphlet). It was upon his death in 1984 that the land was donated to the NYSDEC. Today, the property is an oasis surrounded by suburban development.
A walk through these impressive natural grounds is a real eye opener. There are all sorts of interesting sounds and smells too! Trail options include the Lily Pond Loop, a Beech Tree Trail featuring a mature forest full of beech trees, a History Trail… and then there are the cattail marsh habitats, the bee hotels, and a wide assortment of other bird and bat friendly habitats. There are red dragonflies, turtles, toads, and frogs too. The best part of the trail system is that you never know what you are going to find… though you’re guaranteed to find more than you could ever possibly imagine.
Reinstein Woods is an ecological treasure that is right up there with Tifft and Times. It’s a fascinating outdoor getaway that presents an opportunity to connect with nature, clear the head, get some exercise, and learn about the importance of preserving our flora and fauna treasures for future generations.