Storybook Hike is officially a “StoryWalk”
The Jacobson Preserve trail system is an ideal hike for families with young kids. Located in the Wenatchee Foothills within short driving distance of town, it offers gentle winding trails with moderate incline. There are a couple different routes you can take which let you decide between a short walk or a day hike to the top of Saddle Rock and back. The views of the valley are spectacular either way.
Recently, the Wenatchee Public Library and the Chelan Douglas Land Trust teamed up with the help of a local Eagle Scout to establish our valley’s first “storybook hike” along the beginning climb up Jacobson Preserve. This project is an official “StoryWalk,” a national program which involves taking apart and laminating the pages of an actual book and posting them along trails or bike paths to promote reading and exercise. This program launched out of Montpelier, Vermont, where creator Anne Ferguson collaborated with the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition and the Kellogg Hubbard Library to establish the official StoryWalk Project.
Our local storybook hike features the picture book Call Me Tree, by Maya Christina Gonzalez. It is a whimsical story that encourages children to live life to the fullest by embracing what makes them unique. The story is told in both English and Spanish and features colorful pictures, making it accessible and enjoyable for all. Each posted page is spaced out by just enough paces to keep kids moving forward with anticipation.
Aside from the storybook, this hike gives children the opportunity to get an up-close look at the local flora in our foothills. The Jacobson family donated these thirty-five acres of land to the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust and it remains part of the just three percent of historic, undisturbed shrub-steppe in Washington state. Hikers can observe balsam root, rabbit brush and antelope bitter brush, all flora that provide pops of color to an otherwise bland landscape, particularly during the spring months.
My husband and I have been eager to get our young son acclimated to some easy day hiking. However, those of us with young children know how difficult it can be to keep the momentum going on a hike when kids are in tow. The constant coaxing can be enough to keep everyone home on the couch instead of out on the trails. What better way to keep them moving forward than to read a picture book page-by-page along the way!
(Okay, admittingly snacks are the best way to keep them going, but this storybook idea is a close second.)
We have been up the storybook hike twice now, with my son going farther past the end of the story his second time up. We even packed his baby sister with us once in the front carrier, making it a true family outing. Now, every time we drive past the Jacobson Preserve trail head, my son likes to remind me of the hike where “the little boy turned into a seed.” I think this enjoyably simple hike will forever be one of his first fond outdoor memories. For that, I’m grateful to the Jacobson family for choosing to leave a legacy for us all to enjoy.
For more information on the Jacobson Preserve trail system, as well as other local trails, visit the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust website: www.cdlandtrust.org