Hiking outdoors is one of the most popular and accessible activities Americans do to connect with nature, according to a 2015 report from the American Hiking Society. Yet, what some people may not know is that hiking at night can be a totally different experience than during the day, Freya Berntson, naturalist at Lindenwood Nature Preserve, said in a phone interview.
“I think exploring outside at night is really fun because you get to see and hear lots of things that are not out during the daytime: insects and birds and mammals. It’s almost like a completely different world at night,” she said.
To give people the opportunity to experience this “different world” in a safe environment, Lindenwood hosted its first free night hikes guided by a naturalist last fall. The first event of this kind was held in October when more than 100 people showed up to hike the preserve’s longest trail – the Trail of Reflection – for about an hour under a full moon.Located at 600 Lindenwood Ave., the 110-acre nature preserve has hosted night hikes in the past, but previously, hikers had to pay a fee to enter Lindenwood after hours.
“We saw that the community saw value in (night hikes), and we really wanted to bring that back,” said Kellie Adkins, manager of outdoor recreation for the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department. “Night hikes are in high demand.”
To prevent the trail from getting too packed, Lindenwood decided to limit the next two night hikes to only 25 people. Tomorrow night’s Strawberry Full Moon Night Hike is already filled to capacity, and the Buck Moon Hike, scheduled for July 9 at 9:30 p.m. has only a few spots left, said Eden Lamb, the outdoor recreation coordinator for the Fort Wayne Parks Department.
Anyone interested in getting a spot on the Buck Moon Hike should contact Eden Lamb at 427-6008.
Lindenwood is also planning on hosting more night hikes this fall, the exact dates of which should be announced in early August, Adkins said.
Berntson will be guiding both upcoming night hikes. During the hikes, she said she will give tips on night hiking and how to do it safely.
“Hiking at night can be intimidating and being invited to join a guide for your first trek out makes it a little more welcoming if you are hesitant in the first place,” she said.
Berntson also wants to discuss the phases of the moon and the different names for full moons.
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s website, June’s Full Strawberry Moon was given its name by the Algonquin Native American tribe because it coincided with the ripening of their fruit harvest. And July’s Buck Moon was named after the time of year that a male deer’s antlers are fully grown, the website stated.
Lindenwood features four hiking trails of varying lengths and is normally open every day, all year round, from dawn to dusk.
Berntson usually works at the preserve every weekday from about 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., helping to maintain its trails, answering questions from visitors and leading many of its field trips and other hikes, she said.
As well as giving the local community unique experiences at Lindenwood Adkins said the parks department wants to improve the overall engagement of millennials with all of Fort Wayne’s parks.
“As manager of the outdoor recreation division and being in my 20s, a personal goal is to really get the 18-35 year old crowd, especially college students, engaged in our parks system,” she said. “We’re always open to ideas from the community on how to better serve them.”