Usually, The Ridges Sanctuary is open only dawn to dusk, but its night-hike series allows visitors to see what goes on after hours. The last night hike of the year is set for Nov. 18, 5-7 pm.
During these hikes, guides lead participants down the sanctuary’s boardwalk to the beach, and they visit the Upper Range Light before heading back to the main building. The whole route is a little more than a mile, but according to environmental interpreter and hike leader Anna Foster, hikes typically last about two hours because the group stops often to learn about the sanctuary.
Equipped with red-light flashlights, participants can see without affecting their night vision or disrupting nocturnal animals, which can include barred owls calling to each other and bats swooping overhead. Twice, Foster has even seen a rarer guest: a flying squirrel, which landed right on her shoulder as she led her group through the forest!
Though this is the last night hike scheduled for 2022, Foster said the sanctuary is considering adding winter dates. The cost for the Nov. 18 night hike is $13 for the public, $10 for members and $5 for kids. All proceeds of the night hikes support The Ridges’ efforts to care for the sanctuary and facilitate other events.
The sanctuary will also open after hours Dec. 26-30, 5-7 pm, when visitors can walk the Hidden Brook and Range Light boardwalks – lit with luminaries – for a $5 trail fee.
The daytime winter hike series will return in 2023, when outings are scheduled for Jan. 6-7, 13-14, 20-21 and 27-28 at 1:30 pm on Fridays and 10:30 am and 1:30 pm on Saturdays. The cost is $8 for the public, $5 for members and free for those 18 and younger. Snowshoes will be used if weather conditions permit. Visitors may provide their own or rent a pair for $5.
Registration for all guided hikes at The Ridges Sanctuary, 8166 Hwy 57 in Baileys Harbor, is required at ridgessanctuary.org.