Creepy, Crawly and Cute
When the pandemic hit, managers of the nature and discovery center known as Wildrock decided to make the most of their mile-long loop trail that winds through meadows, over a stream and through the forest.
“What we’ve done is invite area volunteers and our staff to create installations along the trail on various themes that make it really enticing for children to keep going and discovering,” says founder Caroline Schuyler. She recalls the Tiny World Trail, featuring fairy houses and small woodland creatures, and the Unlock the Box adventure where kids had to follow a map, find word clues and eventually open a container of natural treasures, such as a snake skin, a beaver skull with really big teeth, a giant conch shell, and a replica of scat.
"What kid doesn’t like to look at scat up close?” Schuyler muses.
But the most popular trail is now open. It’s called Creepy, Crawly and Cute. As they hike, families find man-made snakes and bats, giant spider webs, a swooping owl and mummy trees wrapped in white bandages. Schuyler’s 9-year-old daughter Lucy loves the hands on quality of this hike.
“You can play with something, but you can’t exactly take it,” she says.
Her 13-year-old friend Maria agrees. She says the trail inspires creativity and a real love of nature.
"If you find all these things out here, like snakes, bats and spiders, you might be inspired to find the real thing outside," she explains.
Schuyler hopes this Halloween experience is fun but not frightening for kids.
“Because we don’t want to scare kids. This is a place about togetherness and joy and healing, and there’s been enough that’s been scary for families in the last couple of years.”
To assure social distancing, only one family is allowed on the trail each half hour, so reservations are required and group admission is $20.