Wild Walk- A Trail Along the Treetops

View the Adirondacks from a different perspective.

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entrance sign.

Jonas Petro
entrance sign.

What better way to get reconnected with nature than to visit Tupper Lake’s Wild Center? With lots of exhibits and live animals inside and wilderness trails outside, the Wild Center is a great place for outdoor fun!
Since its official opening in 2006, the Wild Center in Northern New York has been helping people see and learn about nature up close. From educational videos and live animal shows, to wilderness trails and playgrounds, nature is at its best here. The Wild Center is certainly not to be missed.
And now there’s even more reason to go because of the new exhibit called Wild Walk, a phenomenal trail across the Adirondack treetops that anyone can enjoy. (The gradual incline makes it easy for people of all abilities to walk on, including people with strollers and wheelchairs.)

The idea for Wild Walk has evolved since day one, and here’s the finished product.

The rusty look of these towers matches the color of the trees around it

Jonas Petro
The rusty look of these towers matches the color of the trees around it

Tower 1 marks the start of Wild Walk. It’s just a grounded platform with a tepee shaped tower, but it marks the start of an unforgettable experience.

Naturalist Nick Corcoran, leads me through Wild Walk and talks to me about the trail.

“Each tower has a theme to it,” says Nick as we head through a short tunnel connecting to tower 2. The tunnel consists of many signs with information about different birds. My favorite part was the 1-way glass bird feeders. The glass makes it so we can see them, but they can’t see us.

“Tower 2 is all about birds” Nick says, as he announces our arrival. “We’re about 8 feet off the ground.”

There are also a lot of “stump programs” along the trail. These are basically little interactive learning stations relevant to the theme of the tower.

“This one is about birds.” Nick explains. “There are others about animal senses, flying squirrels and forest resources.”

IMG_2681When we arrive at tower 3, Nick says, “This tower is all about animal senses. We’re around 12 feet off the ground now.”

To my right are some odd contraptions that look like giant cones attached to a stand.

“Those are our sound cones,” Nick explains. “They’re supposed to make you feel like a deer in the forest.”

The effect is extraordinary. The moment you put your ears up to those cones, every sound is clearer. And that’s just one of the many ways Wild Walk makes you see the world from a different perspective.

“Here we are at tower 4, which actually has 5 tower structures” says Nick. “We’re about 20 ft. up on the platform. This is the biggest of the towers, and is all about migration.”

Survive the winter in this migration board game.

Survive the winter in this migration board game.

I look to my left and see what looks like a giant game board.

“That’s our migration game”, Nick says. “The idea is you are a bird and you have to survive the season.” So, I picked up a spinner and started to play! Apparently, my bird got struck by a car and landed on a “game over” space, but it was still fun.

“Tower 5 has the most choices out of all the towers,” Nick says, and he’s right. At 25 ft., you can either go right to the spider web, left to the twig tree house, or straight to Tower 6.

Spider Web

Jonas Petro
Spider Web

We decide to head to the spider web first. The web is a rope-net fashioned to look like a spider web. It may look dangerous, but let me assure you it’s perfectly safe. It’s really fun to pretend you’re a fly stuck in a web, hopelessly trying to escape, or a spider crawling toward its victim awaiting another well-earned meal.

After the spider web, we headed for Tower 6. There, a great man-made eagle’s nest stands. The nest is 10 feet in diameter, only one foot smaller than the world record’s largest eagle’s nest.

Majestic Eagle Nest

Jonas Petro
Majestic Eagle Nest

At 40 feet up, this is the highest peak in Wild Walk. The view is tremendous. It gives you the pride of a majestic eagle, watching over the vast Adirondack wilderness. Every mountain clear, every tree visible. This is seeing the world from a different view.

Finally, we head toward the Twig House. This is the only structure in all of Wild Walk that is made entirely of wood. To get to the Twig House you have to cross a swinging bridge suspended 25 feet in the air!

On the first floor, there is a giant table full of bird nests. I thought it was neat to see all the different sizes and materials that made up the nests.

Wooden Twig House leading to the white pine "snag"

Jonas Petro
Wooden Twig House leading to the white pine “snag”

To get to the top of the Twig House, you must cross another swinging bridge into the tree snag. “It’s called a “snag” because the designers wanted to feel like they snagged it from nature,” says Nick.

The snag is shaped like a rotted out white pine. Unlike the eagle’s nest, which is close in proportions to a real one, the snag is 14 feet in diameter, almost twice as large as a real white pine!

You start in the middle of the snag. If you go down the steps, you will come to the bear cave.

“If a rotted out tree top falls over, bears will sometimes take refuge in them,” says Nick.

Ascending the staircase will bring you to yet another bridge, while giving facts about forest animals along the way. Crossing the bridge will take you to the top floor of the Twig House.

There are a few interactive stations up there, including one that Nick designed himself! At this point, we begin our journey back.

Informative signs along the trail.

Jonas Petro
Informative signs along the trail.

There were several thousand visitors on the day I went to the Wild Center . It was evident that this new attraction to the already popular Natural History Museum has sparked the interest of nature lovers from all over.

As I’ve said before, this phenomenal experience cannot be missed.

“I want people to walk away with better observation skills”, says Nick. “I want people to be able to look at nature in a different way, which is really what this exhibit is all about.”