CASTILE, N.Y. — Construction is set to begin on a one-mile, Autism Nature Trail at one of New York’s largest state parks.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced on Friday that construction has began on a first-of-its kind nature trail at Letchworth State Park, specifically designed with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental disabilities.
According to the Office, activities along the trail will support and encourage sensory perception, featuring eight stations offering a range of experiences. These will range from quiet engagements to active exploration and adventure.
The Autism Nature Trail has been supported by a campaign and the State Office of State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. It so far has raised $3 million toward a full $3.7 million goal. The Office plans to continue fundraising to establish an endowment for long-term maintenance and programming.
“The overwhelming response to the fundraising campaign for this important new destination at Letchworth State Park is impressive and exciting,” said State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid. “Designed by experts, the Autism Nature Trail will be a safe and inclusive space outdoors where all are welcome to experience the physical, emotional and social benefits of outdoor recreation. I am tremendously grateful to the many donors and partners who have joined this effort to overcome some of the barriers to outdoor recreation.”
Planned stations along the trail include the following:
- “Sunshine Slope:” a gentle sloping maze in a natural clearing
- “Music Circle:” a space for running, jumping, climbing, balancing and testing strength, coordination and confidence
- Specialized elements such as cuddle swings, gliders, and “alone zones”
Additionally, the one-mile trail will be adjacent to the Humphrey Nature Center at Letchworth State Park. The trail and stations will be marked with signage telling visitors what to expect as they approach each curve and station.
The Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park is part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2021 State of the State agenda, including enhancing New York State parks.