Children Get Taste of Nature at Limekiln

A group of 25 adults and young children taking a nature walk through Limekiln Canyon Park in Northridge were at first a little hesitant to enter the area.

The reason? A sign reading "Caution Rattlesnakes" at the entrance off Rinaldi Street.

"I don't like that," said Mission Hills resident Sharon Person, who brought her 3-year-old twin sons Sam and Tyler.

However, docent Ruth Doxsee of the Santa Monica-based Children's Nature Institute, which organized the walk, assured the group that they had nothing to fear as long as they stayed on the path.

"It's highly unlikely to encounter a rattlesnake," said Doxsee, who was accompanied by docent Lora Blessings.

Rhonda Ortiz, the institute's program and volunteer coordinator, added: "With this many people, the rattlesnakes would probably be scared of us."

With that assurance, the group began its journey through Limekiln, a two-mile stretch of canyon along the west side of Tampa Avenue.

During the 90-minute walk, the group learned about Limekiln's environment, which includes a stream running along the canyon trail and evidence of devastation left in the wake of the recent El Nino storm season, such as uprooted trees.

Along the way, the children collected pine cones, climbed a pile of logs, searched for insects, examined coyote droppings and chased squirrels.

Other wildlife--rabbits, frogs, lizards and deer--was spotted along the trail. Although rattlesnakes were not seen, the group encountered a 2-foot nonpoisonous garter snake.

The nature walk concluded with a sing-along and arts and crafts for the children.

Canoga Park resident Veronique Nuta, who brought her 3-year-old son Sebastian, said the day's activities served as a reminder of her hometown of Cannes, France.

"We lived next to the mountains and we miss that," she said.

"It's wonderful just to stop and touch things, have some sort of contact with nature, and that is why I brought Sebastian here."

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