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Canopy Tours in Tupper Lake

The corten steel poles, already rusted perfectly to give a natural Adirondack feel, rise high past the trees in a triangular form. Birds zigzag through Feeder Alley, a bird observations zone without a care in the world. A giant spider web gleams in the distance while an enormous white pine snag awaits anyone brave enough to enter the spiral staircase inside. Magic happens when someone walks among the treetops 30 feet in the air. Welcome to the Wild Walk: an elevating journey into nature that opens this summer at Tupper Lake’s Adirondack Wild Center. The idea of the Wild Walk…

Wild Walk, canopy tour

The corten steel poles, already rusted perfectly to give a natural Adirondack feel, rise high past the trees in a triangular form. Birds zigzag through Feeder Alley, a bird observations zone without a care in the world. A giant spider web gleams in the distance while an enormous white pine snag awaits anyone brave enough to enter the spiral staircase inside. Magic happens when someone walks among the treetops 30 feet in the air.

Welcome to the Wild Walk: an elevating journey into nature that opens this summer at Tupper Lake’s Adirondack Wild Center.

The idea of the Wild Walk bounced around when the Wild Center first opened in 2006. The Center, designed by Charles Reay, provides one with a different perspective on the natural world in its 54,000-square-foot main building. After all, the center’s mission is to “ignite an enduring passion for the Adirondacks where people and nature can thrive together and set an example for the world.” The Wild Walk cost the center $5.5 million; $1.25 million of that was funded by New York state through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, says Tracey Legat, the center’s head of marketing.

Reay, who designed the Wild Walk, had a vision. He wanted people from all over to have the chance to be adventurous and contemplative. Reay’s vision will come true this Fourth of July when people can experience the Wild Walk exhibit for the first time. It will take visitors deeper than they could have ever gone on a solid-ground trail. “The purpose was always to transform the forest surrounding the center into a learning landscape,” Reay says. “It seemed appropriate that the Wild Walk would come out of wedding the structure or art and let it be the outgrowth of the forest.”

Along the walk, people will see interactive signage about the area, forest succession and the Adirondacks “It’s really very rare to see the natural world in this way,” says Stephanie Ratcliffe, the Wild Center’s executive director. “And the geometry of the structure is quite complex, because the bridges and poles need to line up with the platforms at precisely the right angle; it’s enriching to know it’s almost finished.”

“It’s very peaceful and inspiring — it’s everything you love about the Adirondacks captured in one moment.”

Nick Corcoran, a naturalist of the education department at The Wild Center, has been evaluating and working toward the complete creation of the Wild Walk for the past two years. “It’s changed a lot,” he says. “Originally it was only going to be one tower, and that changed to six. It was only going to be solely about birds, but now it’s encompassing many different kinds of animals found in the Adirondacks.”

The Wild Walk’s entrance path leads to tower one — and its connected to Feeder Alley, a 50-foot-long bird observation zone with 32 bird feeders that is attracting all kinds of birds such as chickadees and bald eagles. At tower two, visitors will learn about different natural selection programs. Sound cones, which anyone can put on their ears, will be available at every tower along with a learning program. From tower three, visitors can either walk onto tower four, which will have a bird migration program, or they can take a suspension bridge to the twig house. The twig house is a four-story structure crafted into the Adirondack style of tree bark and filled with exhibits about the surrounding environment. The next tower is surrounded by plenty of benches and connected to a giant spider web 25 feet up with a model of a 6-foot shamrock spider. Visitors will be able to walk on the white net without noticing the two black nets underneath, as though they are walking on an actual spider web.

 

           Replica of what Tower Six with eagles nest located at the very top. (Photo provided by The Wild Center)

 

 

“My favorite part is at the very end, placed at tower six, which is the highest point of the whole structure,” Ratcliffe says. “At the tops of the trees is a fabricated eagle’s nest, which is very similar to an actual eagle’s nest. Everyone will be able to go inside of it and see what an eagle sees; it’s very peaceful and inspiring — it’s everything you love about the Adirondacks captured in one moment.” From tower six, visitors will be able to see two suspension bridges connected to the upper and lower parts of the snag tree, a towering trunk ghost of a white pine killed by lightening.

The snag tree structure is 40 feet high, 14 feet in diameter and contains a spiral staircase. People can experience the abundance of life found in a decaying tree and will learn about the creatures that live there. The roof is the sky, the walls are the trees, and the exhibits provide an extraordinary outdoor experience for anyone wanting to enjoy nature and the Adirondacks.

“As a designer,” Reay says, “it seems to me that when you complete a project that meets your expectations and imagination, it becomes a dream come true.”

Issue 5: Summer/Fall 2015

Replica of what Tower Six with eagles nest located at the very top. (Photo provided by The Wild Center)

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