Outdoor Discovery Hiking Trail

Name: Rosemary Whitney, Landscape Planner

Grade Level: 3-5

Town: Pownal

Project Name: Creating an Outdoor Discovery Hiking Trail


Pre Reflection:

What are your professional goals going into this project?

My goal is to develop a hiking trail with discovery/ interpretive numbered stops along the trail that can be used by teachers, grades 3 to 5, in the school for enhanced outdoor learning opportunities beyond the schoolyard.

What are your goals for students?

Skills/Process Goals:

To provide a setting for students to learn to observe and describe the environment around them.

To develop an awareness of the natural world around them.

To develop estimating and measuring skills.

To connect fitness with hiking and outdoor adventure


Subject/Content Goals:

To learn about types of plants

To study animal habitats

To make maps using different measuring tools

Physical education/ hiking

Journal writing/illustration

The Plan:

This is a project to create an environment to support outdoor education and outdoor fitness. It is still in the conceptual stage and would be undertaken with the approval of the Pownal Recreation Comm. Below is the outline of the proposed trail:

Location: The proposed location of the trail would be on town owned land located directly across from the Pownal Elementary School providing direct access without the need of bus transportation. Being on Town owned land, it would be available for all resident to enjoy and explore. Students could be encouraged to bring their families to hike the trail.The property has varied topography, a variety of forest types providing different habitats, and a stream for riparian study.

Length: The trail will consist of a longer (approx one mile) and a shorter loop to accommodate different age levels and time available. The longer loop would have more challenging terrain and would be geared toward and older age group. A gathering spot with log seats would be developed at the beginning/end of the trail.

Discovery /Interpretive Stops: Points of geological, biological, geographical and historical interest would be located along the trail, and marked with a numbered stake. The primary subject of each stop will be recorded with photographs to be used to develop teaching aids.

For Example: glacial boulders, woodpecker holes, squirrel nest, large white pine, vernal pool, old granite fence post, winterberry patch, porcupine cave, white birch etc.


  •  A sheet for each loop will be made up with the photographs and descriptions. These sheets could be used for a matching exercises, having each student or pair of students have the sheet on the hike and stop at each numbered point and study the site to determine which picture represents that numbered site. They will record the number beside the photo. Half the teams could go clockwise the other half counterclockwise.
  • A map of the trails and numbered spots will be developed for the students to take on the hike. The students would record observations about each site that further identifies it such as: rocky ground, wet, ledges, top of hill, beside stream, evergreen forest, deciduous forest.
  • A larger scale print of the same map would be provided for the class room follow up where students could gather for a a discussion of their findings and fill in landmarks and geographical features they have observed.
  • 100 foot measuring tapes, pedometers, GPS: teams of students would learn to use these devices and record distances between numbered sites.
  • Journals: Pairs of students would be assigned to each numbered spot and be given the corresponding photo and a few key words as a start and write a short poem or journal entry based on their surroundings. Classroom follow up, reading of writings, discussion of authors writing about nature or using nature as a key element in their books. Have books displayed that students could read. Students could also illustrate their journals.

















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