Taking a hike at night introduces an entire new world of wonder. As our vision decreases, our other senses start working overtime to collect information. Let’s take a hike and explore this cool world.
Collect tips to help make your night hike a success. Be sure to implement them. Here are a few to start.
- Wide trails will allow an opening in treetops. Use this to help follow your trail.
- Pay attention to the material under your feet. For example, you will know if you leave the trail when dirt becomes grass.
- Ask someone to be stationed at the rear to make sure no one gets left behind or wanders off. This person will also let you know when everyone has “caught up”.
- Trail intersections are a good place to gather everyone for discussions, activities, etc.
2. Planned hike.
Plan a night hike. Use glow sticks or a guide to follow a pre-determined route. You might want to do a themed “haunted trail” for Halloween or a generic night hike with highlights at interesting natural spots like a waterway, forest or rock outcropping.
3. Day versus night.
To emphasize the differences of a day and night hike, take a hike during the day and again at night. Discuss the differences from senses to feelings.
4. How dark is it?
As you take your hike, stop in a place with no artificial light. Everyone should turn off their flashlights and close their eyes. Count to ten, then open your eyes. Look at how much natural light there is. What can you see? Are some things brighter when there’s no artificial light around?
5. Sensory hikes.
Add to the fun by pairing up your hikers and blindfolding one. The second will be a guide to make sure the blindfolded one doesn’t get hurt. You can then explore geological / biological features, do a night sensory trail or a blindfold hike. What other ways can you find to emphasize non-sight senses on a hike?
Many animals use their sense of smell to hunt . . . as well as to know when to hide. As you hike, use your heightened sense of smell to identify animals such as skunks or deer musk. Also try soil, decomposing vegetation, various plants and more. You can even plant scents to make it more scent-astic.
7. Spooky walk.
Take ribbons or something else you can use to “mark” items that look spooky in the dark. This might be a tree, stump, rock, etc. Return when it is light and see what the spooky items really are.
8. Ghost hunt.
Before you go on your hike, explore ghost stories of the area. You might choose to make the hike “scary” or “funny” depending on the age of your hikers.
Look for eye shine reflected back at you. You’ll may need to prepare a bit if you want to see wolf spider eyes. Of course, you can also make “eyes” with special paint that will reflect light and change the shape to simulate different critters. Alternatively, cut eyes out of toilet paper rolls and place a glow stick inside. Find out who’s watching you.
10. Night photography.
Experiment with night photography. You’ll need a flash or a tripod and a s-l-o-w shutter speed to let in as much light as possible. If you can’t see anything, open digital images and adjust levels of colors, brightness, contrast, etc. until you can see the details in your photos.
11. Add your own twist.
Explore other Enrichment Project badge programs in the “night” set and adjust them to fit in your hike. These include:
- Night Activities
- Night Crafts
- Night Games
- Night Science
Sites to Explore