Trails for the Kids

Richard D. L. Fulton

Fall is a season of change, as the heat of summer begins to diminish and weather, overall, begins to moderate. 

But fall is also a season during which life begins to prepare for the harshest of Earth’s seasons, the winter, with its plunging, freezing temperatures, along with ice, freezing rain, and snowstorms.

With all that is going on with nature as the fall season gets underway, it also provides a great opportunity for the children to get outside with their families and explore the various nature trails to see for themselves the transition of life that takes place in the wake of the culmination of summer.

A great outdoor trail concept for children is the storybook trails, which feature placards, or waysides, that, in compilation, tell a story. As the children advance along the trail, the storyline advances as well.

Even the storybook trails offer a chance for the children to also get a glimpse into the dynamic changes associated with the advent of fall.

Emmitsburg has recently completed its storybook trail in the 59.14 acres of the E. Eugene Myers Community Park. The park is located along Willow Drive, at 201 W. Lincoln Avenue in Emmitsburg,

In addition to the storybook trail, the park features a pool, a dog park, a walking trail, tennis and basketball courts, ball fields, and pavilions.

The storybook trail is located behind the playground, where one will see a small walking path that has large-sized story books for children to read. Each month features a different book. For more information on the storybook trail, contact the Town of Emmitsburg at 301-600-6302.

Thurmont has a Library Nature Trail (also known as the Library Loop Nature Trail), which was established by the Thurmont Regional Library on library-owned land and made available to the public when the trail system was officially opened in 2018.

The trail, which runs from the library grounds to the Thurmont Trolley Trail, features educational mini-wayside markers, each containing nature-themed information, photographs, and illustrations.

Creation of the trail system was a collaborative effort, including financial assistance donated towards the completion of the trail by the Eagle Scouts and Class of 1961, as well as further assistance provided by Frederick County Public School SUCCESS students.

For more information on the Library Loop Nature Trail, contact the Thurmont Regional Library at 301-600-7200.

If the children just want to take a comfortable, leisurely walk among nature, with a little historical add-on, they might like the Thurmont Trolley Trail, a .8-mile trail installed over the former trolley tracks that serviced Thurmont in the early 1900s.

The existing trail begins at the historical trolley car and promotes a glimpse at Thurmont’s historical transportation services. For more information on the Thurmont Trolley Trail, contact the Town of Thurmont at 301-271-7313.

Cunningham Falls State Park offers a number of different types of trails, one of which is a storybook trail (otherwise known as the Children’s Storybook Hike). The story presented along the trail teaches the hikers about making maple syrup. The park’s website states, “Follow the storybook path along the lake and cross the bridge to the North Beach. Stop at each interpretive sign and read the book to learn another step in the process of making maple syrup.”

If the children are interested in history, the Cunningham Falls State Park also offers a quarter-mile, self-guided tour of the Catoctin Furnace site. 

The trail, which leads to the Catoctin Furnace Historical Village, entails crossing U.S. 15 via an elevated foot path (46 steps up the stairway).

Another hiking trail is the African American Cemetery Trail, which leads to the heart of the Catoctin Furnace Historical Village. The placards not only instruct the hiker on the iron-making process, but the trail also features the names and stories of those enslaved to work in the village. This ADA-style unpaved path has two viewing platforms and three wooden benches.

For more information on the Cunningham Falls State Park trails, contact the Cunningham Falls State Park at 301-271-7574.

Cunningham Falls State Park storybook trail placard.

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