Feb. 3—NEW LONDON
— There is something almost otherworldly and magical about a winter landscape at night, with only the glow of lanterns and the light of the moon and far away stars to light the path.
"Even though we think about night time as being this quiet time ... the park and the animals are very much alive and well in the night time," said Savannah Stephenson, interpretive naturalist at
Sibley State Park.
"To experience the park at night is a lot of fun. For a lack of a better phrase, you see it in a new light."
Visitors to Sibley will soon have the opportunity to travel through that panorama during this year's Luminary Hike from 7 to 9 p.m. Feb. 10.
"We do it around the time of year when people get a little cooped up, when they are wanting to get outside and enjoying the outside world," Stephenson said. "That is the idea behind these programs."
The hike will take place on the 0.7-mile Pond Interpretive Trail, which will be lit up with various luminaries along the way. Stephenson said the trail isn't hilly and is a great hiking options for all ages.
"It is a comfortable walk for all hiking capabilities," Stephenson said.
Visitors are welcome to come out to the park at any point during the hike. The activity itself is self-guided, meaning hikers can go at their own pace and just enjoy the atmosphere around them.
Unlike other hikes at the park, which are usually led by a naturalist and focus on the science behind the animals and habitat of the park, the luminary hike is more of a sensory opportunity.
"It is more so to get outdoors and have an experience," Stephenson said. "Enjoy an evening with your family."
A few of the luminaries that will help light up the trail were made by community members Jan. 20 during a luminary-making workshop at the park. Those creations will be joined by more simple luminaries along the path.
"People are welcome to come and join and just enjoy the trail as it is illuminated," Stephenson said.
Before and after the hike, guests can enjoy the warmth from not only a few well-placed campfires, but also by partaking in apple cider and hot cocoa, along with a side of cookies. The refreshments are being provided by the Sibley State Park Improvement Association.
The park's trail center will also be open as sort of a warming house, just in case the temperatures are suitably chilly for a winter night.
"People can come warm up," Stephenson said.
This isn't the first time Sibley has held a
winter luminary hike
. There was one last year and the park has also hosted nighttime hikes throughout the seasons. Stephenson said the park plans to again hold summertime naturalist-led night hikes that will teach people about the park's nighttime inhabitants.
"If you are into the more science side of things, a naturalist will take you out," Stephenson said. "Our most popular was the owl prowl last year."
Stephenson is hoping this year's winter luminary hike will be even more well-attended than last year, which had 250 people visit the park. She invites community members to come out and enjoy a special time outdoors with friends and family.
"It is a completely different experience," Stephenson said. "Park staff that will be working that evening hope the community can make it out and enjoy it. We hope to see you there."