Kids in the Woods at Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve
The mission of Kids in the Woods is to foster the physical, mental, and spiritual health of children through interaction with nature in a safe and stimulating outdoor environment.
To help create a fun “Kids in the Woods” experience in the 142-acre Hoffler Creek Wildlife Preserve (HCWP), NLI developed a design program and “Kids Trail” design using a participatory process with staff, board members, and Portsmouth community. The goal was to create free play opportunities for children, families, school groups, and youth organizations to explore and discover the forest ecosystem and to “foster the physical, mental, and spiritual health of children through interaction with nature in a safe and stimulating outdoor environment.”
As a sanctuary for urban wildlife, HCWP contains four distinct ecosystems: a riparian forest of pines and hardwoods, a tidal creek and expansive salt marsh, a meadow of native wildflowers and grasses, and a manmade brackish “lake.” The preserve provides food and cover for diverse population of wildlife, including deer, foxes, river otters, crabs, oysters, and over 200 species of birds.
The Kids Trail adds to the existing interpretive trails winding through each of the ecosystems to help introduce visitors to the ecological, economic, and social value of the plants and animals living at the mouth of the historic James River and Chesapeake Bay.