Atop the former Aldergrove Lake now sits a large “free play” adventure area for kids. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

PHOTOS: ‘Enchanted Forest’ excursion unveils Aldergrove park’s new Nature Discovery Area

Atop the former Aldergrove Lake now sits a large “free play” adventure area for kids.

Zoey Slater, a special events assistant for Metro Vancouver Regional Parks, ushered in droves of visitors to Aldergrove Regional Park on Thursday.

The parks system hosted its 4th annual “Enchanted Forest” excursion for the public, which also marked the unveiling of the park’s newest Nature Discovery Area in place of the former lake.

Families began under the Blacktail Picnic Shelter just off the park’s main entrance at 10:30 a.m. and followed a trail with stations of sensory-based activities for children.

“The kids are learning about wildlife that lives within the park. They are learning about the different tracks these animals make. There is even a station about discovering the many scents of the forest,” Slater elaborated.

Metro Vancouver residents of all ages dressed as their favourite make-believe character and admired gnomes that hung from coniferous trees along the path with larger-than-life mushrooms as clues that aided them in their quest.

The trail came to an end where the new Nature Discovery Area began – a large area mixed with hills, trails and “free play” with “loose parts,” confirmed Vanessa Lee, an interpretation specialist for the parks system.

“It includes activities that pay homage to local wildlife and ecosystems in the park,” Lee said, including a howling station in honour of coyotes nestled in more wild areas of the park.

“There are balance beams where kids can recreate the way raccoons scamper,” Slater continued, “And a beaver dam building station where kids use sticks to build their own dam.”

“The parks system is focused on bringing alive some of the park’s natural features for kids to use their imagination, build and create,” Lee announced.

The discovery area is a part of larger Metro Vancouver Regional Park plan to protect and enhance the natural systems and ecosystems contained within the park.

“This area is just Phase One of the Aldergrove Management Plan,” Lee said giddily. “We hope Phase Two will be completed sometime next year.”

Phase Two will include Nature Discovery Trail and wetland, to utilize wetted lands and create a 500-metre walking loop trail with views over 0 Avenue, said Park Planner Lydia Mynott.

“The reason we’re building a wetland is when we did geteoch work we discovered the groundwater level was quite high,” Mynottsaid, which is ideal for certain endangered species.

The parks system plans to use the wetland for educational purposed as well, and programs where kids can use nets to dip into watery areas and examine bugs.

The parks system will break ground on the project beginning this summer and hopes to have it finished by next year.

Those interested in utilizing the new Phase One area can visit between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. Park hours will switch over to a 9 p.m. closure after April 8.

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