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Nature Centers in the Finger Lakes

Hansen Nature Center/Tinker Nature Park

1525 Calkins Rd.

Henrietta, NY 14467



The Hansen Nature Center at Tinkier Nature Park is located on the Perimeter Trail near the parking lot.


Tinker Nature Park, the Hansen Nature Center, and the Tinker Homestead Museum are located in the Town of Henrietta in Monroe County.


Tinker Nature Park is a well-maintained town park, occupying 68 acres of field, woodland, marsh, and pond. It offers a perimeter trail and two short nature trails, a wildlife observation blind, picnic tables and pavilions, a playground, an herb garden, a cobblestone house, which acts as a museum, a labyrinth, and an interpretative center.


Canoeing, kayaking, and ice skating are permitted on the open part of the wetland along the Perimeter Trail.


The Hansen Nature Center--named for Henry Hansen, who provided the funds for the construction of the log building--has classrooms, numerous displays, and restrooms. It is here that you should stop first when arriving at the park, as the center has brochures and check lists (herbaceous plants, woody plants, macro pond organisms, fungi and mosses, birds, and non-bird animals). The check lists are great resources beause they can give you an idea of what plants and animals you are likely to see on the property. There is also an illustrated guide to the woody plants of the park to help you identify the plants you find. Sometimes, but not always, the center has park maps (pdf). (There are no maps of the park posted in the park. Make sure to bring a copy of the map with you if you can.)


Most nature centers have displays of stuffed animals. Hansen does, too. However, rather than just showing a stuffed animal, Hansen's displays show the animals in typical habitat, doing something they would normally be doing in the wild. Most of Hansen's displays show considerable thought and, consequently, are a bit more interesting than you usually find at nature centers. And, like Beaver Lake Nature Center, Hansen has an indoor, viewable working bee hive.


The park has three main trails--the perimeter trail, the pond boardwalk, and the nature trail.


Walking, jogging, biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are all permitted on the Perimeter Trail.The perimeter trail is 1.2 mi./2 km. long with exercise stations in the open area. It leads through a dense, wet woods. This section of the trail--the dense, wet woods--is unique to nature centers in the Finger Lakes. The dominant tree is the silver maple (Acer saccharinum), a tree that can grow quite large under the right conditions. The trees stand in a layer of muck covered with about 6 in./15 cm. of water in which grow a variety of water-loving plants like cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis).


The boardwalk is about .1 mi./.2 km. long and passes through a cattail wetland that changes into another section of wet woods. Benches along the boardwalk allow visitor's to stop and enjoy the area.


The Nature trail beckons you to come into the woods.


The nature trail is a path covered in bark chips through a drier section of the woods. There are numerous stations where visitors can stop and read an interesting fact about nature and then open a box to find an example--a turtle shell, the cast of a deer's hoof print, etc. Children need to be accompanied by adults on this section as the interpretative signs are quite tall and may even be too high up for short adults.


All of the 1.2 mi./2 km. perimeter trail is bike-able. Most of the surface is crushed limestone, but the part through the woods is raised bark This boardwalk in the northeastern corner of the main pond leads through a wetland with many native wildflowers.chips. The entire route is interesting and fun to ride--more than once. This is the only nature center in the Finger Lakes that allows bikes in its wooded area.


Calkins Road is a well-paved road with a good shoulder. This is a fairly busy residential road. Helmets are recommended for this section.


Kayaking and canoeing are permitted on the wetland pond, however this is a very small area of perhaps .5 acre.


Tinker Nature Park is the only nature center in the Finger lakes with a labyrinth. This is a large Chartre-style labyrinth made of red brick and crushed limestone. It is located to the east of the cobblestone house.


The David A. Dimeo Memorial Labyrinth


The lovely cobblestone house that originally belonged to James and Rebecca Tinker and their six children and the large barn to the right of the house are open to the public on a request basis only. If you know you are coming to the park and would like to visit the house and barn, call the nature center before coming to make arrangements for a tour. There is no charge for the tour.

This lovely cobblestone house is part of the Tinker Homestead on Calkins Road in Henrietta.


Skiing and snowshoeing are permitted on the perimeter trail. Snowshoes for both adults and children may be rented at the nature center.


All of the park's trails are accessible to those using a wheelchair or a motorized chair. This is the only nature center in the Finger Lakes that offers total accessibility.


Dogs are not permitted in the park.

PLANTSThe dominant tree in the wet woods is the silver maple (Acer saccharinum).

There is no one plant that sticks out as unusual in the park, however, the wet, silver maple woods is certainly interesting. The understory in the drier section of this woods has some interesting native shrubs and a good selection of wildflowers.


This is a busy park (from a human perspective) next to a residential area. With so much activity, it's difficult to see some forms of wildlife, though raccoon and mink scat were in evidence along the trails and gray squirrels and chipmunks were visibly present. The trees in the woods are rather tall and the birds, though present, can be hard to see. Birding is done mostly be ear, especially in the wet woods. Animals are probably easier to see at the beginning and end of the day.


See also: http://tinkernaturepark.blogspot.com/


Genesee River

Genesee Valley Park

Mendon Ponds Park

Twin Cedars Environmental Area


Updated 1 October 2010








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