Find heart shapes in nature at the 8th annual Heart Hike
Remember that New Year’s resolution you made about getting more exercise? Fishers Parks has just what you need to get back on track! Come rekindle your fitness goal around the firepit at Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve during the 8th annual Heart Hike on Saturday, February 12 from noon to 4 p.m. You don’t need to be an Olympian to enjoy this free community event, and these four animals might just inspire you to up your fitness game!
During the Heart Hike, two miles of trails will be lined with 70 beautiful photographs showing heart shapes naturally occurring in the great outdoors. As you meander the self-guided trails, you are sure to spot gray squirrels maneuvering their agile bodies over branches – twisting and turning like Olympic snowboarders in a half-pipe! Using their bushy tail to help with balance, these little rascals can leap 10 times their body length as they forage for early tree buds until food becomes more plentiful in spring.
The Team Ritchey Woods white-tailed deer won’t be decked out in ski gear! In fact, you’ll be lucky to spot them in their well-camouflaged winter fur. Chances are they will hear you before you see them, and you’ll only catch a glimpse of their white tail flashing in a zigzag running pattern – like Olympic skiers executing razor-sharp turns down the slalom course. Geared toward hikers of all ages, you can zigzag into all three natural habitats at Ritchey Woods – the forest, swamp, and prairie.
Watch and listen for the barred owl who is occasionally heard and seen during daytime hours. Barred owls have streamlined wings with fringed feathers that help them deftly glide through the air, like Olympic figure skaters over ice. Tucked beneath fluffy head feathers, the barred owl has asymmetrical ears which help it efficiently pinpoint prey. You can glide through the February StoryWalk guided by one of the Parks Department’s Nature First staff on the hour and half-hour during the event. (The StoryWalk will remain up at Ritchey Woods throughout the month of February.)
Okay, there aren’t any bears at Ritchey Woods today, but 200 years ago bears actually roamed this area of Indiana. Two distinct types of fur combine to provide black bears with the gold medal for insulation.
So, grab your warmest “bear” coat, gloves, hat, and scarf and bundle up like a Team USA Olympic ice hockey goalie. After some winter exercise and ecotherapy at the Heart Hike, you will have earned your reward – a s’more and cup of hot chocolate around a blazing fire.
The Heart Hike is free and open to the public, and you can learn more about the event here. Want to find more winter fun #AroundFishers? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Winter Fun for fun ways to play even on the coldest winter days.
Photos courtesy of Susan Davis.
Amy Risinger is the Environmental Education Coordinator for Fishers Parks. After retiring as an HSE educator, she joined the Parks Department in 2019. She leads the Nature First program, a partnership between the City of Fishers and Hamilton Southeastern Schools that helps first graders develop a sense of wonder and stewardship about their local natural environment. A Fishers resident for the past 36 years, Amy feels fortunate to be able to share her love of the outdoors and her devotion to science education with the community, as well as her four grandchildren. Most days you can find her and her husband, Jeff, outside looking down at plants, rocks, and insects or looking up at clouds, stars, and trees, as well as hunting for the best pizza in Fishers!