HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Social distancing has many people staying close to home. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay locked up inside.

Hayes Nature Preserve in Huntsville has plenty of fresh air and free activities for people of all ages and abilities.

“People come here they just get excited about being in nature, children can use their imagination, adults can see wildlife, trees and green grass and large areas”, said Joy McKee, Huntsville City Landscape Director.

The nature preserve offers a place inside city limits to hike, bike, fish, and even ride horses.

“I would say this is one of the best destinations in Alabama because it offers so much for everybody,” said McKee.

Mckee said the 538 acres of land was donated to the city by the Hayes family.

“Annie Wade Hayes’ vision was for education and for children to use their imagination and to be able to get out and rimp and romp and run and just have a great time maybe rather than always being on their tablets or watching tv, this was a way to get out into nature and that was her vision.”

McKee explained that Hayes’ vision came true — with thousands of children using the area.

There’s plenty of water to enjoy too, like bar lake.

“This is the one that we allow people to fish in and there is no charge, and oh by the way you don’t have to have a license here,” she said.

Although, if you venture further into the reserve and fish in the flint river, you will need a fishing license.

There’s also a launch station built to help get kayaks and canoes in and out of the flint.

“This is one of those places that is the best-kept secrets in Huntsville, and it’s not a secret anymore,” said McKee.

Hike a little further on the trails and you can see state-champion water-tupelo trees and a mini cave.

“Watch the blue heron, watch all the love that’s out here with nature and its just great fun.”

All of the activities are free, all they ask is that you take everything that you bring with you, home with you.

“We encourage, leave no trace,” she said. Come as you will, and leave as if you were never there.