Rice Creek: Connecting with Nature

No matter the time of year, you can always visit Oswego’s Rice Creek. Open year round, the 350-acre wildlife preserve is free of charge to the general public. Rice Creek hosts ongoing attractions including programs, indoor exhibits, trails, an herb garden and collaborations with K-12 schools, college classes, and non-profit youth/community organizations. Visitors can explore the trails while hiking, snow-shoeing, or cross-country skiing. There is also plenty to see between the gardens, animals, insects, and natural history displays.

Rice Creek Field Station on a rainy day.

On my trip to Rice Creek, I explored some of the trails. I hiked to the Field Station and walked around the gardens, water, and pavilion. It was raining during my trip, but I still had the chance to see the fall colors. Despite the weather, there was still so much to see.

Classes at Rice Creek

SUNY Oswego hosts some science labs at the field center. One of those classes is Introductory Ecology. Junior biology major, Kelsey Burke, takes this class.

Telescope Observations

Rice Creek Field Station’s observatory hosts programs led by Astronomer John Zielinski. Participants will have the chance to look through the observatory’s large 16-inch wide telescope inside the rotating dome to view the moon, the bright planets, galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters.

Rice Creek Telescope Observation Sessions:
Fri, Jan 27 & Sat, Jan 28, 8 - 10 p.m.
Fri, Mar 31 & Sat, Apr 1, 8 - 10 p.m.
Fri, Apr 28 & Sat, Apr 29, 9 - 11 p.m.
Fri, Jun 23 & Sat, Jun 24, 10 p.m. - midnight
Fri, Jul 28, Sat, Jul 29, & Sun, Jul 30, 10 p.m. - midnight
Fri, Aug 25, Sat, Aug 26, & Sun, Aug 27, 9 - 11 p.m.
Fri, Oct 20, Sat, Oct 21, & Sun, Oct 22, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Fri, Dec 15, Sat, Dec 16, & Sun, Dec 17, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Cattails at Rice Creek Field Station

Guided Nature Walks

Rice Creek’s naturalists act as guides to help visitors explore the forests, fields, wetlands, and waterways of Rice Creek Field Station. The walks are free and open to the general public of all ages. Walks are 1 mile or less on one of Rice Creek’s four trails and take about 1 hour.

During the walk, the guide discusses the cultural and ecological history of Rice Creek from its early days as working farmland to today and will identify and interpret discoveries such as animal sightings, plant blooms, seasonal changes, and more.

Close-up of daisies.
Bridge over Rice Creek.
Fall-colored trees at Rice Creek.

Jr. Naturalist Program

Rice Creek hosts monthly themed programs geared toward children and their families free of cost. The events are run by environmental educators and current/retired K-12 teachers. The attendees will participate in activities both indoors and outdoors. The November 2023 Program, Pod Critters, consists of a walk to search for seed pods, pine cones, and other plant parts, then using sustainable, natural materials to craft “pod critters.”

Wet rocks near a trail at Rice Creek Field Station

The hour-and-a-half programs take place on the first Saturday of each month. Children who attend 10 programs, will be inducted as a “Rice Creek Junior Naturalist.”

Trees, leaves, and a bridge on a rainy day at Rice Creek.