Dear Families celebrating Earth Day 2020,
Below is a long scavenger hunt. The starting point is the beginning of the green hiking trail which is near the small hiker’s parking lot at the corner of Tower Hill Rd. and Wilson Park Drive (on Wilson Park Drive). You would cross the street, walk on the (orange) trail between a stone wall and the last house on Wilson Park Drive, curve around to the right and just a little further on the left you would see the three green trail markers denoting the start of the trail.
The scavenger hunt is meant to be fun, educational, and inspirational. If you can’t find something, just go on to the next thing. Let us know how you like it.
- The first thing to find is the tree with the three green hiking markers in the shape of a triangle. That’s the conventional way the beginning or the end of a trail is marked.
- Next, find a green “carpet” with small yellow “stars” on it.
- Next, find a birdhouse.
- Next, find an old stone wall that was probably a boundary between the fields of different farmers long ago.
- Now stay right when you come to an intersection. Next, find a tree that has been choked by vines. You can see that it’s trunk has been squashed.
- Next, find a field of what looks like cabbage. It’s actually skunk cabbage. You can eat it, but you have to cook it a long time to get the oxalic acid out of it. If you take a piece of the leaf and rub it in your fingers, it will smell like skunk.
- Next, find the back of an old estate wall. That is the back end of the Brace Estate. The Brace family lived in a mansion on the estate in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In the old days there weren’t all the trees there. There were probably some farm animals and buildings for the farm animals and some planted fields of vegetables and maybe potatoes. There were also some orchards: apple and pear, mainly. The stuff growing on top of the wall is poison ivy. If you come back in about three weeks it will be all leafy green. Some people are very allergic to it, so don’t touch it.
- Next, find the bench looking out over the north end of the upper Tarrytown Lake. Sit down and see if you can find turtles on those black rubber floats. You have to be very quiet. They only come out if it’s sunny, so if it’s a cloudy day, sorry, but they won’t be there.
- Next, find a big, fallen, dead tree with lots of branches sticking out from the trunk. What kind of tree has branches sticking out from the trunk? Guess. A Christmas tree! A Christmas tree is usually a spruce. Right here are several big fallen Norway Spruce trees. How many others can you find?
- Next, find a big rock next to the water that looks like a giant made a ball out of mud and plopped it down.
- Next, find a medium sized Cedar bush that is missing its branches and greens in its middle section. Why does the bush look like this? The deer ate everything at the level of their heads. And they love the taste of Cedar greens!! A lot of deer call this area home. That’s why we are quiet when we walk here and don’t leave anything behind.
- Next, find a cherry tree. It will probably start blooming towards the end of April, so it will either have little buds or pretty pink flowers when you walk here. The bark of the brances has smooth sections and then lines that go left to right.
- Next, find a meadow. A meadow is an open area, generally made up of grasses and various plants. There are not a lot of trees.
- Next, find a stand of young yellow birch trees. They look like white birch trees, but have a yellowish-gray bark. You know they are birch trees by the remnants of the little catkins hanging from their branches since last year.
- Now find a stand of young white birch trees. They have a white bark.
- Next, find a stand of white pine. Underneath the white pine you will see rust colored needles that fell over the last few years. It feels nice to walk on pine needles.
- Next, find a stand of Royal Empress Trees. They have seed pods that look like a bunch of brown grapes. You know you found them when you look up and find the empty seed pods hanging way up in the branches. There are also some on the ground. The Royal Empress tree came here from China and is a very invasive tree because there are no pests to keep it from growing. It also grows very fast and each seed pod has hundreds and hundreds of seeds. But it does have the most beautiful, fragrant, purple flowers which start to bloom in May and June.
- Next, see if you can find a tree with white-beige spots on it. That is a sycamore tree.
- Next, find a bunch of very strange looking trees. Sometimes they are just one big stick with a little green something on top. If you look closely they have nasty thorns all around them. They are called Japanese Angelica trees. They are very invasive around here and originally came from Asia. In the summer they develop bushy white blossoms attached to fluorescent pink stems at the top of their trunks. Their leaves look a little bit like palm leaves.
- Next, find some trees that have a bark with deep wavy lines that form diamonds all the way up and down. Those trees are locust trees. At the beginning of June, they will have beautiful white hanging flowers that are very fragrant.
- Now find another tree that has been choked by a vine. The vine pushed so hard it grew into the tree! A lot of those vines are another Asian import: the invasive plant called Oriental Bittersweet. You might have seen them on the side of the road or on the side of other walking paths. The berries which are red with a yellow cover develop in the fall.
- Now find two green rectangles. What do they mean? They are stacked in the direction that the trail is going.
- Again, find some really huge vines that look like they have pulled down a tree. If they have hair like pieces that seem to peel off from the vine, these vines are most likely another Asian import: the Porcelain Berry Vine. In the fall the plant blooms and has blue, purple, green and turquoise berries.
- Next, find a tree trunk with a triangular hole on the bottom.
- Find a bower made up of Porcelain Berry vines that have climbed from one tree to another.
- Next, find an old metal structure. What is it? Yes, a swing set.
- Now find an arching tree that goes right over the trail. It has a green hiking marker in the middle of it.
- Find some more areas with big mats of vines growing all over things. What kind of vines are they? Yes, Porcelain Berry. They are nasty invasive plants that want to cover everything.
- The last thing to find is the end of the trail. What is it? Yes, you are right: the three green trail markers.
How many things were you able to find? Let us know!
Cathy Ruhland, TEAC Member