Perhaps you have heard of the Bushy Hill Nature Center in Ivoryton because your child took a school field trip there. Maybe even you have heard of Camps Pequot & Sherwood. But did you know that the property has hiking trails that are open to the public from September through May? In fact, there are five very well marked trails for you to explore. There is a little of something for just about every hiker out there.
My first time hiking the trails was actually a snowshoe excursion with my nieces, Abby and Nora. I decided to take them on the Blue Trail. The Blue Trail is a 2-mile loop hike that passes by many different things to keep the interest of a 9 and 5-year-old. Abby had been to Bushy Hill Nature Center before for a field trip about Native Americans but had yet to experience the trails (or visit the farm animals).
We headed out from the Nature Center parking lot toward the Cedar Swamp. With the snow melting, you could see the swampy area around the cedar trees. The girls thought it was pretty cool to be walking along the narrow bridges. Jayne and I were especially happy for the rope hand rail. Otherwise, there is no doubt Nora would have ended up falling in one of the melted areas. From the Cedar Swamp the trail led over to Bushy Hill Lake. The girls wanted to take a break and play on the hill at the dam.
From the dam, we headed north on the Blue Trail along the shore of Bushy Hill Lake. I had promised the girls that there would be farm animals and they were starting to get antsy. Earlier in the day Abby had played basketball and Nora had done ballet so you could tell they were getting tired. Abby was a good sport and powered through but Jayne and I did need to carry Nora on occasion. Then finally, near the end of our hike, the Blue Trail comes out at the farm. Abby was quite excited to pet the goats that came over to say hi. They are very friendly and love the attention of humans. The llamas are a hoot to watch eat with their teeth sticking out but don’t be surprised if they just watch you from a short distance away. Nora acted similarly to the llamas. She wanted to check out the action from a bit of a distance. I think she really wanted to see the rabbit who was keeping warm inside.
Our second time out Jayne and I brought along one of our friends who also happened to have the day off. This time we were setting out to explore the Red Trail that loops around the lake. From the Nature Center parking lot we took the Yellow Trail over to the dam where we picked up the Red Trail.
From the dam, the Red Trail goes up a short, steep hill. Wood has been put in along the trail to act as stairs making the uphill easier. At the top of the hill, you could continue straight onto the Yellow Trail or head left like we did on the Red Trail.
We came across a rocky area that had a boardwalk. It was a nice treat to not have to be hopping along rocks and worrying about twisting ankles.
As you hike along the trails, the Bushy Hill Nature Center has really nice signs up in places to mark features on the trail. This way you can learn some history and geology while you are exercising.
One of the main highlights of the Red Trail is Lookout Point. Here the trail opens up so you can get sweeping views of Bushy Hill Lake. I can imagine that this spot is gorgeous in the fall with all of the surrounding leaves changing colors.
The Red Trail slowly descends into Pioneer Village, one of the areas used for a summer camp. After passing the village you get to the northern tip of the lake, and the home of some resident beavers. It was quite evident that the beavers had been out of their homes recently with freshly chewed trees around. The Red Trail now hugs the lakeside as it heads south.
I’m a sucker for the farm animals at the Nature Center so instead of doing the full Red Loop we ventured off on the Blue Trail toward the farm. This route gave us a 3-mile loop hike. Last time the donkeys didn’t seem to want to venture into the snow and say hi to us. This time though Thelma came right over for pictures. It seemed that all of the animals were out of their homes except for Pickles the Peacock. Erin in our buying department has been sponsoring Pickles for a few years and I hope to one day meet him.
Be sure to visit the Bushy Hill Nature Center’s website to meet more of their animals and see their hiking map. Next time out I think I will take the Yellow and Purple Trails for an even longer hike at Bushy Hill Nature Center.