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New York's Falls to the Finger Lakes
New York's Falls to the Finger Lakes

Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park

6773 Trailside Road
Castile, NY 14427

585.201.8066

The Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park (The ANT) is a first-of-its-kind, interactive experience in nature, designed specifically for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities.

The ANT is an ADA-compliant one-mile looped main Trail with eight stations at various intervals, offering a range of experiences from quiet engagement to active exploration and adventure. Sensory stations and other features of Autism Nature Trail include:

  • Sensory Station, where a collection of leaves, moss, fossils, animal fur, acorns and other objects are to be touched, handled, and even smelled;
  • Sunshine Slope, a gentle maze in an opening that includes a viewing platform, three cuddle swings, and an "Alone Zone;"
  • Music Circle, where a variety of nature-inspired musical instruments encourage creativity, either alone or with others;
  • Curiosity Corner, an open space with a gliding seat, ant-shaped boulders, and access to a shortcut back to the beginning of the trail;
  • Reflection Knoll, a quiet point halfway on the trail under a canopy of trees, with etchings of woodland creatures hidden in the boulders;
  • Meadow Run and Climb, a place with paths to run, jump and balance along serpentine berms and an obstacle course;
  • Design Zone, where visitors can manipulate materials from along the trail into patterns and structures;
  • Playful Path, a place of twisting paths with different surfaces including coarse gravel, log rounds, and sand;
  • The Nook, an area of carefully spaced seating set under a natural canopy;
  • The Celebration Station, as the final stop on the trail, this area has a place for visitors to express themselves through writing and drawing about their experiences on the trail.

Combating Social Isolation & Encouraging Inclusivity Statistics show that young people with autism spend disproportionate amounts of time indoors, often finding comfort in digital activities which results in social isolation. This disconnectedness not only affects individuals with ASD but also can affect caregivers and entire families. Because of our current and necessary sequestering due to COVID-19, many people can relate to this isolation with everyone now having a clearer understanding of feeling cut off from the world outside. The ANT is designed as a series of accessible and safe outdoor spaces in nature, yet far from the distractions and often overwhelming stimuli of everyday outside life.

Activities along the Trail support and encourage sensory perception, while also providing enjoyable activities for visitors of all abilities and ages. The eight sensory stations engage each individual’s auditory, visual, tactile, vestibular and proprioceptive processing, using nature and natural materials as the tools for skill-building. The ANT’s natural setting allows for safe social distancing and planned interaction throughout the experience of the Trail.


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