Aspetuck Land Trust: Short Walks for Short People


Verbatim From the Aspetuck Land Trust website:

Children’s Hike Series aka Short Walks for Short People

The Land Trust has developed a series of hikes for children ages 4-10 to provide great family experiences in nature.  These hikes will help introduce parents and their children to our preserves and provide an opportunity for guided play and exploration together.  We believe that getting our children outdoors helps our community in many ways including building appreciation and support for open space.

After each hike a resource list will be provided with ideas for more things that families can do on the property after the scheduled hike (e.g., another trail); activities they can do at home in their backyards; and other Land Trust properties that offer great family features or hikes.

EARTH DAY VERNAL POOL HIKE @ Trout Brook Valley

When: April 22nd, Sunday, 1-3pm
Age range: 4-10 year olds. Parent is required to attend. Adults without children are welcome at this hike.
Location: Trout Brook Valley Preserve, Weston
Walk:  Interested adults and parents with children will join conservation biologist Dr. Twan Leenders to learn about the little creatures that live in the vernal pools, which form the basis of the forest food chain.   This will be a hands-on activity as children will collect samples and discuss what they find in the vernal pools.
Park: Bradley Road entrance to Trout Brook Valley, Weston 
RSVP: dbrant@aspetucklandtrust.org

COME TO YOUR SENSES IN THE WOODS @ Leonard Schine Preserve (Natural Playground)

When:  May 12th, Saturday, 10-11:30am
Age range:  4-10 year olds. Parent is required to attend
Location:  Leonard Schine Preserve, Westport
Walk:  Educator Karin Layton will lead children on a sensory walk through the woods, where they will observe what they hear, see, touch, or smell along their journey to the playground.  Once at the playground, children will reflect on their walk and write and illustrate a wish for the world of the woods, on a piece of cloth.  Each child’s flag will be hung on a line, between the trees, where their wishes will float through the woods, to the tune of the Dream Flag’s Song, March To The Beat of a Different drummer – join the Dream Flag Percussion Band! (Dreamflag.org)
Park: The Leonard Schine Preserve is located off of Weston Road (Rt. 57 in Westport).  Park on Glendinning Road (private road), which is located 1/10 mile North of Lyons Plains Road (before W. Branch Rd Extension).
RSVP: dbrant@aspetucklandtrust.org

ANIMALS WHO LIVE IN THE FOREST @ Leonard Schine Preserve (Natural Playground)

When:  June 2nd, Saturday, 10-11:30am
Age range: 4-10 year olds. Parent is required to attend.
Location: Leonard Schine Preserve, Westport
Walk:  Land Trust member and woodland expert John Hamlin will lead children on a nature walk, where they will learn about animals that live in the CT woodlands.  They will end the hike at the Natural Playground which features a magical elfin village, areas for fort building, tower climbing, tea-parties, and stick art.  Nature is magical!
Park:  The Leonard Schine Preserve is located off of Weston Road (Rt. 57 in Westport).  Park on Glendinning Road (private road), which is located 1/10 mile North of Lyons Plains Road (before W. Branch Rd Extension).
RSVP: dbrant@aspetucklandtrust.org

THE WONDERS OF WATERSHEDS @ Stonebridge Waterfowl Preserve

When: June 16th, Saturday, 10-11:30am
Age range: 4-10 year olds. Parent is required to attend.
Location: Stonebridge Preserve, Weston
Walk:  Children will take a discovery river walk led by Land Trust member Jennifer Titrud from Fairfield’s popular River Lab program. They will sample the Saugatuck River for plankton using nets and magnifying glasses, and will make a walking stick modeled on the walking water spiders found in the river.
Park:  Preserve parking lot is located on Newtown Tpke.– near Stonebridge Rd. 
RSVP: dbrant@aspetucklandtrust.org

TAKE AN ART HIKE @ The Benjamin Wildflower Preserve in Weston

When: July 21st, Saturday, 10-11:30
Age Range: 4-10 year olds.  Parent is required to attend.
Location: Benjamin Wildflower Preserve
Walk:  Experience this magical setting with an eye for art.  Phil Laborie, ALT Trail Steward and Artist, will lead us on a short walk around the preserve and point out skunk cabbage, ferns, birdhouses and benches, as well as any other points of interest. The short walk will be concluded with a chance for children to draw/color a favorite scene in the preserve. C.J. Guerin, Silvermine Art School artist/teacher and Karin Layton, ALT artist/educator will also assist young artists.  All materials will be provided.  Seize the day, en plein aire, and take home your work of art.  Be sure to wear boots, long sleeve pants and shirts, and a hat, as this is a wetland.
Park: Benjamin Wildflower Preserve is located on Old Stagecoach Road in Weston between Kellogg Hill and Valley Forge Roads. Benjamin Preserve is approx half way down the street – look for signs at the entrance to the preserve.  Park on roadside, near entrance.
RSVP: dbrant@aspetucklandtrust.org

IT’S A BIRD! IT’S A BUTTERFLY! IT’S A PAPER AIRPLANE!

When: July 28th Saturday, 10-11:30
Age Range: 4-10 year olds.  Parent is required to attend.
Location: Trout Brook Valley
Walk:  Explore the world of butterflies and birds in the blueberry orchard.  Larry Fischer will hover over us with facts about our flying friends and share some Natural History of the area, too. Afterwards, ALT Educator, Karin Layton, will instruct children how to make paper airplanes to mimic bird flight and fly them over the hillside. Join us in the fun of folding a fleet of paper airplanes. Bring a pail and pick some blueberries to take home.
Age Range:  4-10 year olds.  Parent in required to attend.
Park: Rte 58 (Black Rock Tpke) past Bluebird Restaurant to Freeborn Rd. Turn left on Freeborn. When woods stop on left (first house lot) look to right, there will be a dirt road thru the woods.  Drive up this road through two gates to blueberry bushes to park.
RSVP: dbrant@aspetucklandtrust.org

WHO LIVES IN THE SALT MARSH?

When: September 8, Saturday, 10-11:30
Age Range: 4-10 year olds.  Parent is required to attend.
Location: Ash Creek Open Space in Fairfield
Walk: Take a walk with us at low tide.  Hear the call of the wild and smell the salt air!  Fairfield Audubon Society naturalist Colleen Noyes will lead us on a walk along the edge of the marsh. Look for signs of life in the salt marsh, such as crabs, sea stars, mussels and minnows.  Measure the receding tide.  Net some sea life.  Sneakers that tie or boots a must!  Create some memories to preserve summer in the salt marsh, accompanied by ALT educator, Karin Layton. 
Park: Ash Creek Open Space is located at the end of Turney Road in Fairfield. Drive past the gate house, take an immediate left, drive through the boaters parking area to the open space parking.  Meet at the picnic tables above the playground, overlooking the salt marsh.
RSVP: dbrant@aspetucklandtrust.org

Note:   To reserve a spot,  please email RSVP contact with date/name of hike, and the number of children attending.  If unsure of weather, call 203-331-1906 the morning of hike for status. No rain date.  Wear appropriate clothes, shoes, and bring a water bottle. There is a 15 child maximum per hike.  Parent(s) must accompany child. 

For detailed maps and directions to each preserve, select the Town name on the Maps page and select the name of the Preserve.

Natural Playground at Schine Preserve

Kid playing

Aspetuck Land Trust has built the area’s first hands-on natural playground at our Leonard Schine Arboretum in Westport! Officially open on June 12th, the playground, designed for children ages 3-7 and built with natural materials found on the preserve, was inspired by a similar playground at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. It comprises approximately 10,000 square feet in a meadow and has areas for fort building, digging, tea-parties, tower-climbing, trail-walking, stick-stacking, nature collages and more! There is even an “elvin village” where younger visitors can play with pine cone “dolls”, honing both their imaginations and their fine motor skills. This is a great place to meet for a play date or to bring the grand children!

All of the play areas have been constructed out of natural materials, primarily red cedar, found natively in the Leonard Schine Preserve, and sticks, logs, saplings, pine cones and acorns collected by a volunteer corps made up of Land Trust members, and of nearby businesses, including DLTC USA, a local tree company owned by Westport resident Jon Sweeney. Thank you to all the volunteers who built this amazing place through which children and parents will explore nature for years to come.

Kids walking

The Aspetuck Land Trust believes that there are numerous benefits derived from outdoor play in a natural setting; fresh air, exercise, and imaginative play to name a few. Board Member, Chris Thomas commented: “Today’s children have access to many wonders of technology, ever increasing their awareness of the world they live in. Unfortunately, a downside to the use of technology is a phenomenon that experts are calling the “nature deficit disorder”.” According to the Kaiser Family Foundation researchers, Children between the ages of 6 months and 6 years spend an average of 1.5 hours with electronic media on a daily basis, whereas children between the ages of 8 and 18 years spend an average of nearly 6.5 hours a day with electronic media.1 For more information about the importance of nature and the outdoors for children and for children’s nature books, we recommend the following:

  • Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
  • James Prosek, Bird, Butterfly, Eel
  • Jennifer Ward, I Love Dirt!: 52 Activities to Help You and Your Kids Discover the Wonders of Nature
  • Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
  • Richard Wiese, Born to Explore
  • Children & Nature Network website

Kids in bear's den Kids on top of a tower

The Leonard Schine Preserve in Westport is located at Glendinning Place off Rte. 57/Weston Road. If coming from Merritt Pkwy, take exit 42 and go North on Weston Road/Rte 57. Drive until the first set of lights which is where Weston Road meets Lyons Plains Road and Ford Road. Go through this light approx 200 feet and take first left on Glendinning Place, a private road. Drive approx 150 feet and the preserve entrance will be on your right at the wooden guard rails. You will see a preserve sign at the roadside and a kiosk 20 feet in the woods. (See map). If you have any questions, call David at 203-331-1906 or email dbrant@aspetucklandtrust.org


1 Rideout, V. and E. Hamel. The Media Family: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Their Parents. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2006

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One response to “Aspetuck Land Trust: Short Walks for Short People

  1. Pingback: A Bench Along The Trail « newfoundlandtraveller

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