Creating your own nature trail is a great way to add some extra fun to a family walk. You can do one in your local woods, park, or even in your back garden. Simply follow our top tips for a memorable day out together.

If you're creating a trail in the woods please don't pin signs or posters to trees as this can be very damaging. Instead, use the natural features of the wood for your trail. And remember to take your trail maps and litter home with you to help us protect the natural environment.

Step 1: plan your route

This activity requires a little forward planning, so you’ll need to visit the area where you’ll be doing your trail to decide on a route. Older children might like get involved in this bit and help plan a trail for younger siblings.   Make a note of the paths you choose and hunt for interesting things to include in your trail. Here are a few things you could look out for:

  • Trees – keep an eye out for special trees, like ones with hollowed trunks or interesting bark. It could be a particularly big tree, or one with unusual leaves like hawthorn.
  • An animal's shelter – see if you can spot  badger sett, bird's nest or mouse tunnel.
  • Logs or large stones – these are ideal for finding minibeasts. Make sure you lift and replace the stone or log carefully to not harm the creatures you find. Pick a log or stone that is very noticeable so you don't miss it on your trail.
  • A flower or flowering shrub – look out for more unusual flowers on your scouting trip, something like honeysuckle is much harder to find than than a daisy or dandelion which will add to the fun. Find out more about woodland flowers.
  • Fungi – check the bases of trees and rotting wood for any toadstools. Don't forget to keep little hands away on your trail, some fungi can be very poisonous.
  • Water features – ponds and streams attract all sorts of wildlife so the are a great addition to a nature trail. Remember to keep a close eye on children around water.

Visiting woods

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Step 2: design your nature trail

Draw a map of the trail to help your family find their way round it. Mark on it the things they need to look out for, such as a fallen tree, a patch of wild flowers, or a bridge over a winding stream. You could even add some fun facts about the things they’ll see along the way.

Step 3: prepare for the trail

Make a copy of the map for each member of your family. You could even make a trail pack, including instructions, pencils or a magnifying glass.

If you have some smaller kids on your trail, it might help to make arrows with sticks on the ground for them to follow.

A prize at the end of the trail is a nice way to wrap it up and helps encourage little ones to get to the finish.

Step 4: get going

All that’s left is to follow the trail. Kids will love exploring new spaces and finding the weird and wonderful stops along the way. Bring along a picnic to round off a lovely family day out.

Family exploring a wood together

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