How our new experience, The Trails at Conner Prairie, impact the world around you

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Time spent outside and in nature is unique and personal, just like each of us. In March of 2023, I shared my story of birding and invited guests to join us at Conner Prairie to enjoy nature-based experiences.  Now, one year later, I’d like to invite you all back to experience the natural world as part of a new guest experience: The Trails at Conner Prairie.

Spending time in nature through the Trails at Conner Prairie

Some people spend time in nature for recreation purposes: hiking, jogging, kayaking and numerous other pursuits. Others strive to gain knowledge of the natural world by identifying birds, plants, trees and other wildlife. Many notice the benefits of time spent outside for their emotional and mental health, through practices such as Forest Therapy or meditation. Our new Trails welcome all guests to connect with nature in any way that is personal and meaningful. 

The Trails at Conner Prairie is a network of two trails which follow the oxbow of the White River. The trails run parallel to each other and offer visitors differing access points to immerse themselves in nature.  Enjoy views across the prairie at ground level on the fully paved Prairie Trail. Take in the sights and sounds of the forest along the elevated and rugged R.B. Annis Vista Trail.  This second trail runs along the top of the berm built by Eli Lilly as a flood mitigation solution when he farmed this prairie starting in the 1930s. Both wildlife-friendly trails provide discovery opportunities for every guest and have been certified as Sustainable Trails by the Indiana Wildlife Federation.  

Nature based programs for all visitors

Starting Spring 2024, Conner Prairie will host in-person and self-guided programs to connect guests with the natural world along the new trails system. Enjoy guided nature walks and raft trips, learn about the wildlife who call this space home, take time for your wellbeing through Forest Therapy walks and participate in community science. Our self-guided programs, curated by our nature experts, engage guests in various topics related to nature and Conner Prairie. Just pick up a leaflet at any trailhead and begin your journey. These leaflets will provide information and/or invitations to engage with the nature and history of this shared space. Leaflets for 2024 include: Trails for Kids, Historic Hoosiers and Forest Therapy. New self-guided programs will be added throughout the year.

Exploring the benefits of nature

Whether it’s for recreation, gaining scientific knowledge, wellness, or other personal reasons, time spent in nature has many benefits. Numerous scientific studies show a variety of physical, mental and emotional health benefits to time spent in nature, such as better sleep, enhanced immunity, less stress, increased feelings of energy, joy, and connection.  In addition to health benefits for humans, natural spaces also benefit as humans gain and grow an appreciation for plants, animals, land, air and water, which can foster a sense of eco-identity, connectedness, and environmental stewardship.

However you choose to spend your time in nature, the central connection is that of our shared Earth.  This Earth Day, how can you intentionally show your appreciation to the land, air, water, plants and animals we share this space with? Join us on Saturday, April 20 (two days before Earth Day), to participate in events centered around the Earth. Meet community members focused on nature and conservation, take guided strolls along the trails with Conner Prairie Staff and engage in playful invitations to connect with our beautiful planet. Whether you prefer recreation, knowledge or relaxation, we have experiences and invitations for you!  

About the Author

Michelle Morton is the Nature Engagement Specialist at Conner Prairie.   She works with the Education Team to facilitate and lead nature-based play and learning activities for guests.  Before joining the Conner Prairie team in 2022, Michelle taught elementary school for 17 years in Germany, Singapore, Czech Republic, and Colorado. She values process over product learning and is passionate about facilitating curiosity and discovery.  She loves riding her bike, birding, hiking, cooking, reading, playing board games with her family, the color green, and (of course) being outside.