What to expect from Trail School?
Each day will include a hike through the forests and fields, often away from the main trail system. Naturalists will have field guides, magnifying lenses, observation jars, and other tools of discovery to help children deepen their curiosity and facilitate on-the-spot learning. Of course, nature itself will provide anything else we need. The day’s adventure will include a blend of guided activities, designed by our naturalists, and ample time for free exploration, nature play, and space for each child to connect with nature in their own way. Our 270-acre “classroom” is rich with diverse habitats, including streams, forests, wetlands, beaver ponds, and open meadows. Below is a list of some of our favorite locations to explore!
- Stream and Pond Exploration: Flowing through our preserve we have Baltimore Brook, Mulroy Brook, Spring Brook, Boulder Brook, and the static Phillips Pond. These water sources are excellent locations to explore aquatic wildlife and discover the wonders of water.
- Peanut Hill: On top of a hill in a secondary growth forest of maples, aspens, and hornbeams, there’s a variety of sticks of all shapes and sizes scattered about making Peanut Hill our favorite location to build forts!
- The Beaver Dams: Along Baltimore Brook is a beaver pond with an active dam that provides a first hand resource for observing the impact of beavers and how they instinctively work to change the land.
- Griffiths Flats: This shallow emergent marsh and abandoned beaver dam area is a great location to find a plethora of interesting plants and wildlife. Whether it’s fall, winter, or spring a hike through this area is always enjoyable with something to discover.
- The Gravel Pit: Baltimore Woods could have become a gravel mine if not for the caring community of stewards that worked towards preserving Baltimore Woods for what it is today. This location reflects a little bit of that history of the land and is now a great place to play in our labyrinth and explore the different varieties of rocks.
The Philosophy Behind Our Trail School
Trail School is inspired by one of the great naturalists of the 19th century, Enos Mills. Enos Mills himself describes the philosophy best as he talks about his Trail School at the base of Longs Peak, over 100 years ago: “These children were dealing with real things through interest, and their imaginations blazed with more keenness than it was possible for the powers of legends and fairy tales to incite. They had been to school, had studied, had worked, had learned without realizing it. Their reports amounted to enthusiastic recitations of new, big lessons well learned. Best of all, they were happy, and were eager to go on with this schooling – this developing.”