This spring, nature enthusiasts and garden-goers can experience a new area at Mt. Cuba Center — the Trails. More than two miles of scenic trails await guests in Mt. Cuba’s natural lands, located adjacent to the formal and woodland Gardens.
The Trails highlight nature in a different, more wild aesthetic than Mt. Cuba’s cultivated Gardens. Both the Trails and Gardens emphasize the beauty and value of native plants. Management of these areas promotes ecosystem health and function, supports environmental education and scientific research, and preserves the character of the regional landscape.
“Opening the Trails for guests has been a longstanding ambition,” said Jeff Downing, Mt. Cuba’s executive director. “Offering this additional experience for exploration allows guests a new perspective on the beauty of our local landscape and the wildlife that call it home.”
Along their trek, guests will see stunning vistas and examples of Appalachian Piedmont geography, flora, and fauna while learning how our natural lands are being reforested and restored. They will find peace and respite listening to the sounds of nature, including chattering of Eastern Bluebirds whose nest boxes can be found throughout the Trails.
Nathan Shampine, Mt. Cuba’s Natural Lands Manager, has overseen the care of a 100-year outlook for the land, which was once used for agricultural purposes.
“I’m excited to share this area with guests,” Shampine said. Previously, our natural lands were only accessible to guests during special events. This is the first time they can witness how we protect, preserve, and enhance native habitats by removing invasive plants and reestablishing meadows, shrublands, and forested areas through native plantings.”
In addition to habitat reconstruction, a walk on the Trails will bring guests past several conservation projects. Guests may see several dozen chestnut varieties provided by The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF). This Chestnut grove is an experimental project to rescue the American Chestnut from extinction.
Mt. Cuba Center will open for visitation on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Guests should prepare for a mild hike and wear appropriate shoes. Shade and restrooms are provided.
During this time, Mt. Cuba is taking extra steps to keep guests safe and socially distant. Purchasing tickets and memberships online is highly recommended. A scanning station is located outside of the Main House for easy entry. Signs and arrows directing one-way traffic are posted throughout the Gardens to keep staff and guests safely distanced. Certain areas are closed until further notice.