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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Crotched Mountain in Greenfield adds story walks

GREENFIELD – Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center has added two story walks to its accessible trails, encouraging people of all ages and abilities to combine getting outdoors for physical activity with learning.

All of the storyboards are a convenient height for children and people in wheelchairs. ...

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GREENFIELD – Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center has added two story walks to its accessible trails, encouraging people of all ages and abilities to combine getting outdoors for physical activity with learning.

All of the storyboards are a convenient height for children and people in wheelchairs.

“Pages of a book are transformed into signs that are then laid out on a trail inviting families, children, caregivers and others to follow the path of pages,” said Marlene Damery, library media specialist at Crotched Mountain School.

“It’s a great way to build children’s interest in reading while encouraging healthy activity for both adults and children.”

The featured stories this year are “Around the Pond: Who’s Been Here?” on the Dutton Brook Trail and “In the Woods: Who’s Been Here?” on the Gregg Trail. Both stories are written by Lindsay Barrett George, and coincide with the collaborative summer library program “Fizz, Boom, Read,” a science-based theme geared toward children.

“In addition to participating in the national reading program at their local libraries, children and their families can experience these two stories in a natural outdoor setting while they hike our trails,” Damery said.

“The stories are colorful and interactive, offering clues on each page that relate to different animals, which allows hikers to learn more about wildlife,” said Anita Martus, a teacher at Crotched Mountain School.

“Around the Pond: Who’s Been Here?” is featured on the Dutton Brook Trail because both have ponds and it allows children to see nature in what they are reading and in real life.

“In the Woods: Who’s Been Here?” takes children through the forest, which is similar to the forest described in the book.

After hiking the Gregg Trail with his 6-year-old sister, Kristen Powell, and their father, Todd Powell, 10-year-old James Powell, of Greenfield, said, “I liked reading the book and guessing the animals. It was a lot of fun, and it made me want to keep hiking.”

Each storyboard found on the trails has a QR code that can be scanned by a smartphone to bring up a website that reads the story aloud.

With more than 3.5 miles of hiking, the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center opened the longest accessible trail system in a mountainside setting in the country in 2011. These trails were designed for easy access to people of all abilities, including people who use wheelchairs or other devices for mobility, seniors and families with children.

The two accessible trails combine unique hard-pack pathways, boardwalks, moderate grades, switchbacks and rest stops to create a natural hiking experience for people of all abilities. Each trail is unique and abides by the federal accessibility standards recently released by the U.S. Forest Service.

In 2013, the Gregg Trail was recognized by Yankee Magazine as a 2013 Editors’ Choice winner for Best Wheelchair-Accessible Trail.

These are wilderness trails, making it important for hikers and their companions to be prepared, including what to pack and knowing where to go. Hikers are advised to know their own physical, cognitive and technical abilities, as well as restrictions, before hiking.

For more preparation information and a hiker’s checklist, visit www.cmf.org/hikeprep.

Both trails open 30 minutes after sunrise and close 30 minutes before sunset, depending on the trail conditions.

For updated trail conditions, visit www.cmf.org/trails or call 547-3311.

The Story Walk books will be on the trails until the end of summer.