By: Brian Elliott
When is the last time you climbed a tree? If you are like me, it’s likely to have been a decade or more. Now there is a place you can get those tree-top views, breeze in your face, plus an added bonus of doing it without the risk of slivers or falling. How, you ask? A field trip up to Whiting Forest by Dow in Midland can help relive those memories. They plan to build a Canopy Tower/Walk into part of their grounds, complete with ADA accessible trails and pathways providing an inclusive experience as you ascend into the trees. The paths and walkways criss-cross, jutting out into various look-out spots and carrying visitor’s to different heights among the branches. Adding to the experience are the ways designers allow for different materials to be used, but also making it so that no matter the height of a person, they can still get the views by looking through the fencing on the sides and with walkways that are slotted metal grates. Allowing visitors the ability to look straight down to the forest floor or into the other trees nearby.
As I rolled through the grounds in my power chair, a wise move considering the ground distance covered, I passed by other people using mobility devices. There were other power chair users, people using scooters, walkers, manual wheelchairs, and parents with strollers. Youth’s and Elder’s experiencing nature together. How rare is that? A place where age and physical ability do not limit the experience. There is also an audio portion for people. By stopping at the various marked sections, simply call a phone number and enter a number prompt to get a greater understanding of what is in that area. Another great aspect of Whiting Forest is the accessible playground where children of all ages and abilities can be together going wild.
After spending the day rolling the grounds and looking at the beautiful facilities, snapping pictures of the structures and scenery, I kept thinking of what a great time I had throughout the day. Another aspect which I purposely didn’t mention because I want you to experience the entire complex, is that with admission into Whiter Forest you also can access into Dow Gardens. A beautifully cared for space providing visitors with wonderful sights and smells from the surroundings. Take your date, the family, grandparents, friends, or yourself and be prepared to spend a day looking at lavish grounds and getting back into your childhood enjoyment being among those amazing giants we can’t help but wonder what it is like up in their branches looking out over the land.
Another awesome outdoor experience is coming to SE Michigan in 2020! Hidden Lake Gardens (West of Tecumseh on M50 in Lenawee County) is beginning their own Canopy Tower and Walk. The Tower will be equipped with an elevator through it's center, assisting those in need to take in the views atop the 100' Tower. For more info check out the video link below by JTV from the Grand Unveiling.
JTV report of new Tree Tower and Canopy Walk coming to Hidden Lake Gardens.