Elmer W Oliver Nature Park opened in Mansfield in early 2014, and it does the city proud. The 80-acre park sits on land acquired over a period of years, some from the Oliver family, whose patriarch, Elmer W Oliver is the park’s namesake.
Located just off Matlock Road the Nature Park is, as the name suggests, a park with an emphasis on nature: there is no playground or fields for athletics, but there are plenty of other amenities to entertain, educate, and inspire.
If you follow the winding concrete sidewalk and the earth trails, you’ll not only get a good look at the natural beauty of the park, but you’ll discover everything the park has to offer.
There’s the treehouse, which in and of itself is a thing of beauty; it gives you a great view of Walnut Creek below you, and because you’re in the canopy of the trees, you have the opportunity to see birds and other wildlife from a position you don’t often get.
There are the unique geologic formations at Oliver Nature Park: erosional boulders can be viewed at the rocky ford overlook; you will also find Eagle Ford Shale and Woodbine Sandstone within the park. Both of these were formed “in the upper or late Cretaceous period between 100 and 66 million years ago.”
Other, decidedly less old, features of the park include the wildflower area, which in spring is covered in color provided by bluebonnets (the state flower of Texas), Indian blanket and partridge pea, among others; summer and fall the area is home to a variety of grasses.
If windmills are your thing, you’ll enjoy the 1930s windmill, which is found in the approximate middle of the park. Other things that might catch your fancy include the pond, the floodplain boardwalk, and the natural amphitheater.
There’s a map as you enter the park and at various locations throughout, to make sure you don’t miss a single feature. If you’d rather, you can explore the park with an expert: there are guided walks, nature programs, school field trips, stargazing, and even yoga classes. For a list of available classes and registration information, click here.
As with all Mansfield Parks, leashed dogs are allowed; there are clean up bags available. Bicycles, inline and roller skates are allowed on the concrete paths. The Oliver Nature Park also has restrooms for visitor comfort.
The park is located at 1650 Matlock Rd; it is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.