The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced that construction has started on a first-of-its kind nature trail at Letchworth State Park designed for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities.
The Campaign to Build the Autism Nature Trail (ANT), with support from the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, has raised $3 million toward a full $3.7 million goal. The fundraising campaign was managed by the Natural Heritage Trust on behalf of State Parks.
Activities along the Autism Nature Trail will support and encourage sensory perception, while also providing enjoyable activities for visitors of all abilities and ages. The trail loop will feature eight stations offering a range of experiences from quiet engagement to active exploration and adventure.
Planned stations include the Sunshine Slope – a gentle sloping maze in a natural clearing, the Music Circle – a circular grove of pine featuring nature-inspired instruments, and the Meadow Run & Climb – a dedicated space for running, jumping, climbing, balancing and testing strength, coordination and confidence. Specialized elements like cuddle swings, gliders, and “alone zones” are also planned for the trail, each created with the intent of providing a more inclusive environment for visitors of many different needs and abilities. 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 of the trail and station.
The Campaign to Build the Autism Nature Trail at Letchworth State Park is supported by several organizational partners within New York State, including the Natural Heritage Trust, Camp Puzzle Peace, Letchworth State Park, Perry Central School District and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.