At the Center’s annual donor Pig Roast this autumn Pickering debuted the first trail loop in the new woods they acquired in fall of 2022. Thanks to the generosity of many community members the Center was able to purchase 63 acres of woods adjacent to the Center’s main campus in September of 2022. Over the course of the past year staff and stakeholders have enjoyed free form walks in the new woods as they considered potential trails and highlights along those trails. The first result of that effort is the New Woods Loop. The loop begins at the conclusion of one of the Center’s wetlands boardwalks, following a path along the wooded shoreline overlooking the head of Pickering Creek.
After a short walk you enter the new woods, dominated by mature oaks, tulip poplar, beech and hickory. The first stop along the walk is Barred Owl Circle, a delightful set of benches built by the Center’s volunteer crew that are set up in a natural clearing in the woods that provide a wonderful place to rest and contemplate the quiet around you. Aptly named for the regularity that you hear Barred Owls calling Who cooks for you, who cooks for y’all at this location, summer EcoCamp groups enjoyed this location all summer as one of their starting points for exploration of the new woods. Camp groups began exploring the new woods with their group leaders during the second week of our seven-week camp. It quickly became the most popular place that campers wanted to go. They have adopted their own name for it, Echo Woods Circle, because of the interesting echo of voices that occurs as sound bounce across the creek and back. The circle is slightly short of the halfway point of the walk.
The trail continues and casually meanders amongst big trees and runs alongside a wooded wetland. A small bridge crosses a seasonal stream as the trail curls left beneath towering tulip poplars. From here you enter a grove of American Holly before exiting the woods into the Center’s meadow. The trail links up with the center’s next newest trail, the meadow loop. You can turn right and continue on for further adventure through the meadow and onto the meadow viewing platform or turn right and head towards the farm pond and back to the parking lot.
“I’ve seen something new every time I taken this walk,” says Pickering Board President Tom Sanders. This is the first of several trails that will enable community members to explore the woods over the next few years. Debut of the next section of trail is planned for mid 2024.
The trail is three quarters of a mile long from the parking lot, through the woods and back along the meadow trail to the parking lot. Allow 40 minutes for the walk depending on how much time you want to spend enjoy marveling at the big trees or relaxing along the trail at one of the benches. During the winter months Pickering is open daily from 7AM -5PM. Check the website if you would like to sign up for a guided walk in the new woods, www.pickeringcreek.org