The Nature Olympics:

A Lockhart Ryan Memorial Park Adventure

1 hr 10 min 1.1 km return Easy

Trail Info:

The Lockhart Ryan Memorial Park is a multi-sports park that is also used for special events. The wooded trails are on the outskirts of the main sports park and can be accessed at many locations. The Harvest Moon Rail trail that runs through the Annapolis Valley is accessible at the north end of the park. Although most trails on this adventure are flat and easy walking, there are a couple paths that require a short climb. This trail is not accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.

Directions:

Lockhart Ryan Memorial Park Trailhead
View in Google Maps

Coming from Halifax and the east of Nova Scotia, take Highway 101 west to the Annapolis Valley. Take Exit 11 and turn right at the bottom of the off-ramp towards Greenwich/Port Williams. Drive 400m to the light and turn left onto the Number 1 Hwy towards New Minas. Drive 4.2 km and pull into the Lockhart Ryan Park driveway at right, just past the New Minus Baptist Church sign. Park in the second parking lot to the right close to the ball fields. Start at the edge of the trees opposite the ball field hill.

Kings Transit provides bus drop off on Commercial Street near the park entrance for those coming from other towns in Kings County. The schedule is here.

Trail Tools

Warm Up

Go to the edge of the parking lot on the uphill side. Face uphill into the trees.

All of your hard work; using your imagination, playing outside, going on hikes with family, field trips and vacationing has really paid off. Your training as a Nature Adventurer is almost complete and you are now prepared to take up this challenge and play the Nature Games! Test your skills as you meet each Nature challenge and learn even more about the Nature in your community. If you succeed, your name may go up on the podium!

Make sure your imagination muscle is warmed up and ready to go. Play Animal Forms to begin.

  1. Stand in a circle and everyone think of your favourite animal. Don’t tell anyone.
  2. Each person takes a turn in the middle acting out their animal.
  3. The others are challenged with guessing the animal.
  4. The person who guesses correctly is the next one in the middle to act out their animal.

Now that everyone’s warmed up… Let The Games Begin!

Name your team. Come up with a good nature name for your group. As a suggestion, the first word could be an action word and the second word can be an animal… like the “Running Deer”.

Once you have a cool name, huddle up and everyone places a hand to touch in the middle. Give a cheer for your team and raise your hand in the air (write the name in the blanks):

“Go, Go, Go ___________________   ___________________!”

1. Tree Root Race

From the uphill edge of the parking lot facing uphill, beside the storm drain, walk into the trees and start at the bottom of the wooded hill.

The trees here have strong roots they use to hold onto this hill. The tree roots are connected underground through tubes that share the food with all of the trees. Be tree food and race through these tubes from tree to tree. Use the leaf key below to help you identify the trees you are standing under.

  1. In a row, everyone stand on a root or a rock at the bottom of the hill under the trees.
  2. When someone says go, jump from root to root (or rocks if no roots are available) to the top of the hill. Designate a tree to tag at the top as the end.
  3. See who can hop to the end tree first.
  4. Challenge yourself by calling out the tree you are under as you hop. Use the tree leaf key to help you identify the tree.

After the challenge, give your cheer: “Go, Go, Go …….!”

Trees Share with each other

The trees are all connected underground. Trees grow best when they live in a community with other trees. A forest community of trees, with different ages and sizes, protect each other from wind storms. A way that a forest shares the nutrients (food) available in the soil with all of the trees is through tiny tubes called mycorrhizae. These are thin fungal roots that direct where the nutrients and water go underground.  When a tree needs nutrients, the mycorrhizae share with the roots of that tree and the roots carry nutrients, minerals and water into the tree.

2. Greet your Fans

Facing uphill, turn left and walk 25 m along the tree line above the road to a big pine tree with three main trunks.

Meet and greet your fans who are cheering you on for the Nature Games. Their faces are in the trees. They have been watching you compete and are so excited to meet you and get your autograph! You are their hero!

  1. Take out your frame tool and hold it out in front of you.
  2. Look at the trunks of the trees around you and search for their faces.
  3. Can you tell what your fans are feeling?
  4. Find faces that are:
  • Happy
  • Angry
  • Silly
  • Sad
  • Sleepy
  • Scared
  • Scary

Show the other team members your favourite fan faces.

Your fans want your autograph. Trace your name with your finger onto the trunks of the tree faces.

After the challenge, give your cheer: “Go, Go, Go …….!”

3. Hawk vs Vole – Camouflage Tag

Continue walking along the edge of the road 30 m until you see a large pine tree across the road to the left next to a disc golf basket with a number 5 on it. Carefully cross the road and walk down the path which heads in just to the left of the tree. In 20 m there is a Y in the path, stay left. Keep on this path and walk 65 m to the bottom of the hill where there is a big oak tree and a trail junction. Turn right and go about 10 m until you see some big trees in the woods at right and walk 10 m into the woods just off of the path.

You are a Red-tailed Hawk sitting in a tree here at this spot. This tree gives you a great view of the land so you can spot the voles (small, mice-like rodents) scurrying around on the forest floor. You are hungry and need to feed your young so try to find as many voles as you can. But voles have a way to avoid being caught, they have brown fur and are camouflaged to blend in with the brown leaves on the ground.

  1. Find a good strong tree to perch in.
  2. One person is the hawk touching the tree at all times and the others are the hiding voles.
  3. The hawk closes their eyes and counts to 30 for the first round, to give voles a chance to hide.
  4. Voles should hide close to the tree since they need to tag the tree between each round.
  5. After the time is up, the hawk searches with its keen eyes to find the voles hiding close by.
  6. If the hawk spots a tasty vole, they call the name of the vole or what it is wearing and the vole comes back to the tree to wait until the next round.
  7. Once the hawk cannot find any more voles, they shout “camouflage” and close their eyes again to count to 25 seconds this time (Each round gets shorter by 5 seconds).
  8. All hiding voles are hungry and since their food is under the hawk’s tree they run to tag the tree before finding a new spot to hide and all of the caught voles run to find a better hiding place this time.
  9. The rounds continue until 10 seconds is counted and the voles who have never been tagged win!
  10. Take turns being the Red-tailed Hawk in the tree after each round.

After the challenge, give your cheer: “Go, Go, Go …….!”

Do You Know – Red-tailed Hawk

The Red-tailed Hawk is one of the most common hawks. They are smaller than Bald Eagles and have a red tail that distinguishes them. They soar above open fields, slowly turning circles on their broad, rounded wings looking for prey. Other times you’ll see them atop telephone poles or trees, with their eyes fixed on the ground to catch the movements of a vole or a rabbit. Voles are like mice with short tails. The Red-tailed Hawk makes a classic raptor-like sound. Make their “Psh” sound by making the “sh” part drawn out and gradually getting lower in sound. Try It!

Information is from: AllAboutBirds.org. Picture is from PEHart/Flickr/CC by-SA 2.0

4. The 25 meter Slow Fox Race

Go back to the path, turn right and continue downhill 30 m, stopping at the corner where the path turns to the left at a large needle tree.

It’s race time! But this is not a fast race. It is a slow race. Sometimes animals in the forest need to be quiet and slow in order to avoid predators, sneak up on prey or even to steal food from someone else! Be a sly fox as you fox-walk slowly and silently to the finish line where your dinner awaits.

  1. Across the path, scrape a starting line in the dirt with a stick.
  2. One person walks 25 m to the next corner turning right. Mark the finish line by scraping another line or placing a water bottle or other object there.
  3. One person is the announcer and judge and everyone else races.
  4. Racers line up along the starting line.
  5. When the announcer/judge says go, the racer slowly and carefully steps along the trail like a stalking fox walking slowly and quietly.
  6. Try to be as silent as possible when you step.
  7. Try to be as slow as possible.
  8. The last person to reach the finish line wins.
  9. No racer can stay still during the race and needs to jump ahead 3 times if the judge sees them stop.

The slowest and most silent fox-walker stalking their prey wins the dinner! You all must be hungry after that race. Now everyone have some of your snack and water.

After the challenge, give your cheer: “Go, Go, Go …!”


Netukulimk—
Indigenous Games

The Olympic Games originated from the traditions of ancient Greece but the Mi’kmaq have long held Indigenous competitions and cultural celebrations dating back over many generations. The Nova Scotia Mi’kmaw Summer games were renewed in 2010 on a yearly basis and include 24 sports and cultural events, attracting upwards of 2000 athletes. These Games are hosted at alternating Mi’kmaw communities each summer. Some of the events are widely recognizable such as canoeing, running and swimming, while others such as Waltes are uniquely Indigenous. Waltes is a dice game using a wooden bowl made of maple and dice crafted from caribou bone. It’s origins are thought to pre-date the arrival of Europeans. In 2016 the Mi’kmaq Sport and Recreation Council initiated the Aboriginal Sport Hall of Fame to recognize outstanding sport accomplishments by Nova Scotian Mi’kmaw.

Learn about Netukulimk

5. Deer Bounding High Jump

From the finish line of the slow race, walk 50 m to an intersection in the path. Turn right and walk 70 m to where a path turns down to the right. Take this right path and walk 15 m to the Rail Trail. Turn left onto the Rail Trail.

Deer are fast and powerful. They have muscular legs that propel them high to escape predators such as coyotes. Be high jumping deer to escape predators.

  1. Scrape a line across the trail for the starting line. The gate 105 m ahead is the finish line.
  2. Run and jump as high as you can along the trail.
  3. Jump high until you get to the gate.

After the challenge, give your cheer: “Go, Go, Go …….!”

Earthworks

Deer, coyotes, plants, insects and all other creatures in forests and wetlands affect each other, no matter what they do. When deer leave droppings behind, they fertilize the soil, helping plants grow. When coyotes eat deer, the carcass is food for insects and other creatures. When insects fly over water, fish jump up and eat them. The fish and trees are linked, though you wouldn’t think so at first. The trees shade the pond and keep the water cool for the fish. Each creature meets its own needs while helping the others meet theirs through a set of

Learn about the Earthworks

7. Silence is a Gold Medal

Return back to the rails to trails pathway. Turn right on the pathway and go 100 m. About 5 m before a small path joins from the left, turn right and downhill into the woods. Head past a small fir tree growing up about 5 m from the trail. The first few metres are a bit thick, but walk past the fir tree and you will come to a ridge that slopes down to the river within about 10 m. Stop on the ridge.

This challenge is the toughest. How fearless are you? Can you sit still and quiet with all sorts of creatures surrounding you? You don’t see them? Ha ha, they stay away when you make noise and move around. Test your listening and sitting skills. Here are the key tips:

  1. From the ridge, go down and find a comfy spot on the slope with a view of the river. Be at least 10 m apart from each other.
  2. Open your adventure journal.
  3. Sit perfectly quiet for at least three minutes.
  4. Listen for all the different sounds in nature and look for all sorts of creatures— insects, birds, squirrels, etc.
  5. Draw symbols in your journal for each sound you heard or creature you spotted, or draw a picture of what you see.
  6. At the end, take turns describing your symbols and pictures to each other.

You get a gold medal if you were perfectly silent for at least three minutes. Give your team and the creatures a cheer: “Go, Go, Go …….!”

Perfect Pollinators

Did you hear any bees or bugs? They play big roles in nature. Birds, bats, bees, butterflies, beetles, flies and other small mammals that pollinate plants are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. They are responsible for plant reproduction and in turn the vegetables and fruit we eat. There would not be enough food to eat if there were no pollinators. They also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce. Without the actions of pollinators, agricultural economies, our food supply, and surrounding landscapes would collapse and life on earth would look very different. You can help pollinators by leaving wild plants like dandelions, goldenrod and asters in your yard and planting butterfly and bee gardens. Because they are so important, there are groups of people who are concerned about pollinators and want to protect their numbers from declining due to pollution and habitat loss. To learn more about pollinators and what you can do to help them, learn about and join the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.

8. The Cliff Scramble

Return to the rails to trails, turn to your right and then take the immediate path to your left. Go gently uphill 20 m on the path and stop when the path suddenly turns right and heads up steeply for a short distance.

Sometimes creatures are scrambling for their lives in the Nature Games with a predator in pursuit. Test your scrambling skills. You are a chipmunk and a weasel is hot on your tail. You need to scramble up this slope as fast as you can to survive.

  • See how long it takes.
  • Designate a time keeper.
  • 5 seconds is the current world record.
  • The grass on top is the finish line.

Be swift but careful, if the mouse gets hurt, the weasel eats you!

After the challenge, give your cheer: “Go, Go, Go …….!”

9. Sculpt a Masterpiece

Intro the activity directions below before you follow these movement directions—

From the grass at the top of the scramble, walk to the right behind the soccer netting for about 20 m and then turn left and go about 50 m passing behind the soccer net and up a small hill where you hit a dirt road. Turn right on the dirt road and go down to a gas tank. Immediately past and to the left of the gas tank, take a small path down to the right. Go about 30 m down this trail and find a nice spot for creating an art masterpiece.

The Nature Games include beauty as well as speed and strength. The next competition is your chance to create an artistic masterpiece. But you need materials to work with, so gather them on the way to the next stop as you move along the back of the soccer field.

Use your keen eyes to spot special items and put the following “loose-parts” of nature in your pocket for later to make an art sculpture masterpiece. Find and collect:

  • 3 crooked sticks
  • 2 neat leaves
  • A flower
  • 3 seeds or cones
  • 2 cool rocks
  • A tuft of grass

Go for it!

Once you arrive in the small path after the gas tank, use the items you have collected (and anything else you can find) to make a masterpiece for all to see.

Find a place in the woods just off the trail to build it. It can be 3D— build it on the ground, hang it from a tree limb, balance it on a stump or frame it with 4 sticks. It is up to you! Let your imagination run wild!

After all pieces are complete, have an art show! Everyone views each sculpture and the artist explains why they made each piece and what it means to them.

Judge which sculptures win the prize for:

  • Creativity
  • Balance
  • Fun
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Craziness

After the challenge, give your cheer: “Go, Go, Go …….!”

10. The Mountain Building Challenge

Return up the small path to the road in front of the gas tank. Find the opening out onto the soccer field to your right which is framed by two boulders.

Spot the sand in the distance across the soccer field. Test your speed, run as fast as you can to the edge of the sand for the 100 metre nature dash. Go…

… Take a drink, rest and get ready for the cosmic challenge of testing the laws of gravity!

How big can you make a mountain before the forces of gravity pull on it?

  1. In the sand, outside of the volleyball area, use your hands to push and pull sand into a mountain.
  2. See who can make the biggest mountain.
  3. If you make a bigger base, can you make it higher?
  4. Once the mountains are made and measured, jump on them to flatten them down again for next time.

After the challenge, give your cheer: “Go, Go, Go!”

How are mountains really formed?

The top layers of rock, soil and even the ocean floor is called the crust of the earth, just like the top crust of an apple pie. The earth’s crust is made up of separate pieces like a jigsaw puzzle called plates. Mountains are most often formed by movement of these plates on the Earth’s surface. Great mountain ranges like the Himalayas often form along the boundaries of these plates where they push against each other and buckle up just like when you push sand up into a mound. The Earth’s plates move very slowly. It can take millions and millions of years for mountains to form.

11. Your Name is on the Podium!

From the sand area, walk along the edge of the forest and behind the soccer net toward a building for about 35 m. Turn right into the woods on a trail which is just past a bench. Enter the forest and arrive immediately at a trail junction. From the junction go right to a large maple tree about 5 m away. At the maple tree, with your back to the trail, go 10 m into the forest to a large dying spruce tree.

Go down in History! You finished the Nature Games successfully and your name has been recognized and is up high on this tree podium! To discover it…

  1. Lie down under the tree with your head close to the trunk.
  2. Look up into the tree branches and find where the branches create the shapes of the letters that spell your name.
  3. Your name is written in nature for all to see and know that you are a Nature Adventurer!

Now, to find your actual Nature Games Medal with a special mystery creature on it, go back to the maple tree and turn right on the trail. Head on the trail 50 m to the edge of a parking lot. Your medal is on the back of something right here. Find it and do a rubbing of it in your adventure journal. Post the name of the creature on it below to get your creature sticker.

The plaque symbol is:

p

Login/Register

Please login if you would like to record your trail completion, provide feedback or upload photos to the trail gallery.

Login if you’d like to upload a photo to share in the Adventure Gallery

Now that you have shown how much fun you can have in nature, find more challenges in your own backyard. Be an animal, watch pollinators and build nature art in your own backyard.

Give one final cheer for yourself and for nature:

“Go, Go, Go …….!”

Walk across this parking lot and then past the tennis courts to the parking lot where you started.

There are lots of active things to do in and around Lockhart Ryan Park, from baseball, tennis and soccer to playing at the playground and splashing on the splash pad. Learn more about the park at Valley Connect. The park has a fun Disk Golf course winding around the trails. Find the links map and scorecard here.

The Harvest Moon Rail Trail adjacent to the park is a great biking trail for getting around and you can also access a lovely wooded path that will take you down to the Cornwallis River just passed the gates.

Plaque Missing?

Previous stop
Lockhart Ryan Memorial Park
1 of 13
Next stop
Scroll back to top
You can install Earth Adventures as an app for easy access and offline use.
Tap share and then "Add to Homescreen".
You can install Earth Adventures as an app for easy access and offline use.
Tap share and then "Add to Homescreen".