VALPARAISO | Nocturnal life is illusive, but educators at Taltree Arboretum & Gardens are hoping to give visitors a glimpse into a world that would otherwise never know exists.
Taltree is hosting two night hikes Oct. 3 and 17 in which visitors will have the possibility of meeting owls, frogs, toads, moths, raccoons, opossum and coyotes, just to name a few, in their natural habitats. The hikes, which last about 45 minutes, begin at 8:30 p.m. Oct. 3 and 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17.
Led by trained staff, guests will hike through native prairies, woodlands and wetlands in the 360-acre oak preserve.
"Hikers have been really excited to learn about nocturnal animals and animal calls," said Maddie Grimm, education specialist at Taltree. "Every night hike is a different experience depending upon the weather and how active nocturnal nature is."
The walks also provide an opportunity for guests to enjoy time away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
"Folks have commented on how clear the sky is while stargazing and how peaceful it is in the woods at night," Grimm said.
Taltree first began offering night hikes during its first ever "Glow: Art after Dark" event in August.
"We wanted to offer an unusual, educational experience for our guests," Grimm said. "The hikes were so popular we decided to continue them through the fall season."
The fall hikes, she said, are a great addition to Taltree's educational programming.
"Education is one of our main mission goals," Grimm said. "Taltree exists to restore and conserve the native landscape of Northwest Indiana and to educate the residents and visitors about nature's importance in our everyday lives."
The hikes are designed to do this, as well as be a fun way to learn, she said.
"Each hike is tailored to hold the interest of any age group and can meet state educational standards," she said.
Guests are encouraged to bring glow wear, glow sticks or a red LED flashlight, and should arrive about 10 minutes prior to the hike start time to check in, said Anicia Kosky, communications specialist at Taltree. Guests should wear comfortable shoes and dress for fall nighttime weather.
Night hikes are $7 for individuals 13 to 54 years old, and $4 for seniors older than 55 and children 5 to 12. Members 13 to 54 years old pay $6, and the cost for member seniors and children is $4.
Each night hike is limited to 20 people. Guests can reserve their spot by going to Taltree.org.
All proceeds go toward Taltree's education, restoration and conservation initiatives.
Taltree is located at 450 West 100 North, near Valparaiso, just south of U.S. 30.