Hideaway Woods is a two-acre, forested learning environment featuring treehouses, connecting bridges, a flowing streambed, fanciful nature sculptures, sensory interactive exhibits, and a tunnel entrance under the train tracks.
Coming out of the entrance tunnel, visitors can climb through, around and over huge (recycled) trees which are sculpted in novel ways. These locally harvested hardwood trees, some as tall as 15 feet and four feet in diameter, will be hewn or polished to reveal the beauty of their details and feature carved-out seating or hollowed-out trunks.
The members of Swiss Family Robinson will wish they had landed here. We are building a village of treehouses in the canopy. Connected by ropes, bridges, and tunnels, our treehouses will encourage children to flex their bodies and their imaginations, while viewing the world around them from new and exciting perspectives.
Treehouse Villages will feature three distinct areas appealing to children of varying ages, developmental stages, and levels of climbing confidence.
- Treehouse Run is connected to Treehouse Timbers with a series of ropes and bridges and will allow visitors to safely traverse 15 to 20 feet off the ground. The height of this treehouse collection promotes even greater movement and activity while providing a higher level of challenge and perceived risk. The natural movement of the trees on a windy day will add to the thrill and sensation of really “living” among the branches.
- Treehouse Timbers is a cluster of three to four houses and open platforms (six to eight feet off the ground).
What does it feel like to be a bird in a nest? A rabbit nestled in its burrow? Artist Patrick Dougherty’s twig and sapling structures are the perfect place to find out. These amazing sculptures will entice children to play rousing games of hide-and-seek or use them as quiet places for rest and reflection. The main body of this area will be designed over a mulch base that is playground approved and ADA compliant so children of all ages and abilities can enjoy them.
What happens when you drop a leaf in water? How cold is the water in October? How many rocks does it take to change the course of a current? Visitors will be encouraged to pose their own questions and more when they stop by Woodland Waters.
This accessible, re-circulating fresh water stream will invite children to wade in and discover how water behaves and interacts with other natural elements. Children can also cross the stream via boulders.
Hideaway Woods will allow children to safely challenge themselves without “hovering” parents and caregivers. This convenient gazebo with benches is located in the middle of the playscape and meet parents’ needs for a comfortable spot to relax and still have children in sight.
Explorer’s Crossing is designed with our youngest visitors – those 18 months to age five – in mind. Children will play with wooden blocks and other natural materials and practice climbing, balancing and jumping off a series of low log steppers. Designed to be increasingly challenging, this space encourages children to practice and improve over the course of a single or multiple visits.
In Peekaboo Huts a series of low platforms connected by wooden and net bridges will suit crawlers, toddlers and full-blown runners. The huts will feature windows to peek from and spaces to hide in and spark children’s imaginative play.
Two nature trails will be constructed along the northern end of Hideaway Woods for visitors to take a hike through the forest. Museum staff will keep the paths roughly maintained for a more authentic woodland experience.
Gateway Park lies just outside our main building and will be a natural gathering place for visitors. The area will feature 1,500 square feet of climbing space connected with notches, ropes and nets, with multiple sections catering to children of all ages.
The 500 square-foot sand area will still feature a walk-in entrance at ground level for our youngest visitors. Children will continue to create personal construction sites with our fleet of sand trucks and ride-on diggers.