Hiking Adventures in Maryland: Bear Legacy conducts activities to give back to the local community and our efforts are focused on encouraging families to get outside. 

Located at: 2503 S.Tollgate Rd Bel Air Maryland 21015

The trail network consists of a 1.5-mile loop trail around the perimeter of the wooded property, as well as a network of spur trails that will lead to a Storybook Trail with painted rocks, natural sculptures, and other arts elements inspired by such classics as Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar, an outdoor yoga space, an outdoor classroom, and a small loop trail (the Pump Track) designed for youth to ride balance bikes. The trail will also include a picnic area, as well as historic signage that highlights remnants of the historic farm that used to occupy the property and tells the story of Mrs. Graham and how her inherited land came to be designated for park and cultural land. The highlight of the trail for children will be a series of movement stations, or “adventures,” which will include multiple wooden climbing structures, a swing bridge, a log “spiderweb,” rock hopscotch tiles, and a climbing wall, among others. The trail will also feature areas to excite the imaginations of children, such as a “drum sets” made of logs and stumps, and an inspiration rock garden. All of these will be constructed of natural materials and will be designed to blend in with the surrounding woods. The trail will also help adults reach their own exercise goals with fitness stations located alongside each adventure, and outdoor yoga classes. As part of the Maryland Center for the Arts, the Bear Adventure Trail will also include elements of nature art, including painted and carved stumps, and an area where children can build ephemeral sculptures and imaginative towers out of wood, rocks, and other natural materials.

Why did we build this trail:

The Bear Adventure Trail and the Maryland Center for the Arts are valuable to the community in that they occupy one of the few undeveloped parcels of wooded land in Harford County. Surrounded by housing developments, a public elementary school, and a branch of the Harford County Public Library, the park is centrally situated to attract many local families with children who want to experience nature without having to travel far from home. It is also ideally situated only three miles from Interstate 95, and will be easily accessible to visitors coming from elsewhere in Maryland or out of state.

What is done on the trail right now:

The entire trail network (1.5-mile outer loop and all the spur trails) has been cleared and blazed, a wooden bridge has been constructed over a small ravine that carves through the southeast corner of the trail, and the  picnic area has been cleared and partially mulched with table and 2 grills. While the adventure elements are still being added, community members have started to use the trail for daily walks or trail runs, and feedback has been extremely positive, especially from those who recently enjoyed the beautiful fall foliage that covered the property in a rainbow of natural color.

The trail will give people an easily accessible opportunity to stay active and healthy, both physically and mentally. Reams of academic data have been produced in the past decade that tout the health and academic benefits that come from spending time in nature—improved cognitive ability, social relations, and self-discipline, as well as reduced stress, among others. Everyone that comes out on the Bear Adventure Trail can reap these benefits.

As an element of the Maryland Center for the Arts, the Bear Adventure Trail will also connect with the local arts community as a beautiful reflective place where they can contemplate nature, create art en plein air, and find a peaceful atmosphere away from the highly developed surrounding areas. We expect significant cross-over usage between those coming to visit the art center and then also walking the trail. This combination of natural and cultural usage of the site is precisely what the benefactor of the land, Mrs. Graham, had wanted in her will.

Bear’s legacy truly is to bring joy and happiness to others, and the love of his family and friends is being poured into every inch of this trail. This exciting outdoor nature destination is a perfect way to honor Bear’s memory and will bring happiness to thousands of children who are given a chance to explore and get active in the outdoors with their friends and families.

Contact us: volunteers@bearlegacy.org

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