Trail Tales

A family reads a Trail Tales panel while they hike Ryerson Woods.
A family reads a Trail Tales panel while they hike Ryerson Woods.

What is Trail Tales?

Elegantly combining nature, art and reading, Trail Tales or Caminando con Cuentos is a perfect activity for a young family looking for a new way to have fun together. Combining time in nature with literacy at first may sound peculiar, but we find it a creative way to get children of all ages out walking while reading children’s stories. Story book pages are converted into panels that are placed along a nature trail. More than just a walk, the “Trail Time” activity on each panel encourages children to explore, touch, smell, listen and enjoy. This family-friendly trail is an easy access walk of approximately one mile or less. Free of charge, the aim is to entertain and engage children of all ages and abilities, so that families can enjoy our region’s special landscapes together.

Where is Trail Tales?

There are currently two different Trail Tales books installed in two different Lake County Forest Preserves. Visit Ryerson Woods to read along with Winter is Coming, or Greenbelt Forest Preserve to experience the fun of reading Miss Maple Seeds as you walk. Later this fall, there will also be a new Trail Tales installation of Miss Maple Seeds at the Nippersink Forest Preserve.

Miss Maple’s Seeds

Trail Tales visitors are welcomed in by the delightfully eccentric Miss Maple, a charming character from Eliza Wheeler’s new book Miss Maple’s Seeds. Orphan seeds are collected, nurtured and planted by the kind and caring Miss Maple in a story that will win the hearts of families as they walk these trails together reading gorgeously illustrated panels with book excerpts presented in both English and Spanish.

What’s a Little Free Library?

An exciting component of the Trail Tales is a Little Free Library at the end of the hike. A Little Free Library is a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where people share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. Our Little Free Library focuses on all different genres of books that relate to nature. As the target audience for Trail Tales is families, the selection of books within the Little Free Library appeal to family members of a mix of ages.

Why Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods?

For almost 10 years, Brushwood Center has been actively engaged in researching which segments of the population in Lake County are not connected with nature and piloting programs seeking to foster a connection with those audiences. Trail Tales is an exciting extension of this important work.

The Value of Trail Tales

  • The combination of nature, art and reading in a perfect activity for a young family looking for ways to have fun together.
  • Young children are encouraged to love books and to appreciate art while getting physical exercise and learning about nature.
  • Family togetherness is promoted.
  • Books are shared, building community across a range of ages and cultural groups.
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