Leonard Schine Preserve & Children’s Natural Playground
On the Sunday after Sandy came through, we decided to get out and go for a hike. I was still a little nervous about trees coming down, so we wanted a place that was a little more open. And since we are with a 5 year old, we decided to visit what is unquestionably the crown jewel of the Aspetuck Land Trust for the under 4 foot crowd: the Children’s Natural Playground.
When we arrived, I wasn’t quite ready to go right to the playground, so we walked along the white trail through the woods to the east of the playground by turning right just after the entrance sign. This path has a little steepness first uphill and then down. Normally this is not a problem, but from experience, may I recommend if you go in the fall to watch out for slippery leaves? We had a contest to see who could find the biggest leaf. Avery won.
After a short walk, we met back up with the purple children’s trail and entered the natural playground through the archway.
I’m not sure if the trail stewards had already been through this section of the property or if the playground was simply spared any damage from the storm. Either way, everything looked great. When we were here last, probably about a year and a half ago when he was 4, Avery’s favorite part was rolling the rock down the rock slide, and he showed little interest in the stick tent. This time, he was most enamored of the wooden log slide and the stick tent. I love that as he’s getting older, different activities in the playground appeal to him. This allows us to keep coming without it becoming old or boring. That said, the people in our group over 4 feet tall yearned for a little more hiking, so we started down the white trail through the arch out of the back of the natural playground.
Not very far down the path, we started to see some of the effects of Sandy, all of which have now been cleared. Huge trees were down with their roots up and many trees had trunks exposed where large branches had been wrenched out. Note: it may be best not to let your children use downed tree trunks as a balance beam. Hypothetically, the child might fall off and then require you to carry him for a while. Even if he’s five and really too heavy to be carried.
As we walked, we collected acorns, pine cones, sticks and leaves, as we remembered there is a sorting station in the playground. We eventually wandered back around to re-enter the playground off the orange trail at the bottom of the playground where we sorted our collections.
This is an extremely accessible location for anyone, and I highly recommend bringing your children here and letting them explore the playground with its variety of activities an opportunities for imagination.
For maps, directions and more information about the Leonard Schine Preserve & Children's Natural Playground in Westport, click here.