When members first join Tyler, many stay inside the fence for a while enjoying the gardens, collections and well-tended paths. Yet after a month or two, they invariably hear the call of the wild and head into the woods – outside the fence – seeking adventure. Tyler’s well-marked trails, and even off-trail hikes, are attractive to solitary hikers who seek space and quiet for contemplation.

light snow

All of you have your favorite quiet hikes. On a Saturday’s mid-afternoon, after most young families have departed and I have the Arboretum to myself, I start on the Scenic Loop and head past the Pinetum. One of my favorite jaunts is to go out Gates 7 or 8 and turn left, heading northeast. There I can take the white or orange trails toward the Painter Trail, Middle Farm Trail and Rocky Run Trail. It’s hard not to love the vast meadows in Middle Farm – on a quiet afternoon, it’s a landscape straight out of Downton Abbey or Wuthering Heights.

One my best walks involved getting happily lost on the north loop of blue Rocky Run, heading uphill until I found myself somewhere in Ridley Creek State Park. Using GPS on my phone, I located my car in the Tyler parking lot and headed in the right direction. I always take lots of photos for social media (tagging with #TylerArboretum) and, as an artist, composing paintings in my head. Many of my canvases owe their origins to these deep-trail walks outside the fence.

Rocky Run

Busy Tyler volunteer Dave Charlton shares his own favorite jaunts: “The Blue Trail is my go-to when I want to get in a little hike. I’m on the lookout for spring ephemerals when the weather warms before the canopy leaves out. After that it’s the fresh green leaves I admire, particularly the native Magnolia tripetala with it’s 10-12 inch long leaves. I like to go as far as Indian Rock and cross Rocky Run to return on the high ground overlooking the water.”

Adds Heather Saunders, Board President and trail lover, “I enjoy the lower section of the Dismal Run Trail (orange). The terrain is smooth enough that I don’t have to keep my eyes on my feet all the time. When the leaves are on the trees, I’m completely unaware of Barren Road – it feels like I’m deep in the woods.

Rocky Run

“My very favorite part of the trail network,” Heather concludes, “is a short segment of the Painter Trail (red) on the north side of Rocky Run where it separates from the white trail. I think this section is an old road, with some big old trees along the edge where the terrain drops down into an overgrown meadow. There’s often something very mild and beautiful about the sunlight in that area, and I recently discovered some pursewebs clinging to the trees. Crossing Rocky Run near Indian Rock in order to get there, is a highlight of any hike at Tyler.”

Addendum: We would love to see where you like to hike. Drop us a note or pictures!