Fairy Doors are windows into a magical  place...

Letterboxing & Fairy Door Hunting Etiquette

  1. Take only photos, leave only footprints. Aka ‘leave no trace’.

  2. Be safe

    1. Dress for the terrain and weather 

(mud! Wear old sneakers or rubber boots!)

    1. Be aware of your surroundings - observe stuff!

    2. Take precautions to avoid ticks (light-colored, long pants & long sleeves; tick-checks while hiking; shower once home)

    3. Learn to recognize poison ivy. There is an id picture on the back of the bulletin board at the cabin.

  1. Always take a trusted adult along

  2. Respect other park users

  3. Respect the plants and animals in the park

  4. Shh...don’t advertise how you found the box or door...let the spot stay a surprise for those who want to hunt! 

 

Washington Park

Fairy Door Finder

Welcome to Washington Park! 

To enter the park, turn off East Maiden onto Dunn Avenue.  continue past 2 stop signs. Pull past a third stop sign at the pool office, and continue until you see the Main (White) Pavilion. Turn right at the first road, just before the pavilion. This will take you past and below the Main Pavilion. Turn right at the next stop sign, and park on the roadside before the next intersection. Pull across to the left side, below the evergreen trees. Straight ahead is the Hughes Log Cabin, the starting point for our Fairy Door Hunt! 

How to use this guide:

Each door should take about 10-15 minutes to find. However, If a turn is missed or a step is skipped, it may take longer to get back on track! 

For each door, I’ve included two parts: 

  • What’s here? Can be read aloud before you start your journey. It gives you an idea of the natural features in each space. 

  • Clues to find... is next. This gives you the name and picture of the door you’re looking for, followed by detailed directions to the door. 

  • You don’t have to find every door in one day. You can pick up your search for remaining doors wherever you left off. 

  • As you walk, observe where you are in relation to where you came from. This will help familiarize you with the park, especially on new trails.

ABOUT
What's here?
On your way to 
Oaken Overlook

What's Here?

On your way to the Oaken Overlook

Once you arrive, walk up to the cabin and take a look around. There are big, beautiful oak trees on the hillside behind and to the left the cabin. Oaks tend to be long lived. They are what we call a hardwood, because...well, the wood is hard and strong! Smaller branches make good campfire wood, but larger trunks are used to make furniture and floor planking. 

  1. Oaks grow from seeds called _________.  

(acorns)

  1. During a normal year, oaks produce a small number of acorns. Every 2-5 years oaks produce a LOT of seeds. These are called mast years. This overwhelms animals who rely on acorns for food, giving more acorns a chance to sprout into an oak tree! Mast years occur on an irregular cycle of 2-5 years.

( The same idea applies to the cycles of some insects, like cicadas. To improve species survival, cicadas emerge in large broods. This overwhelms predators so that a fair number of cicadas can survive to produce the next generation)

  1. Where you find oaks, you’ll find all sorts of animals as well. acorns are a very nutritious food. 

Can you think of 3 animals that eat acorns?

(look & listen for evidence of: chipmunks, squirrels, blue jays, crows, woodpeckers, deer, turkeys)

  1. On the ground you may see spring wildflowers. Spring wildflowers (or ephemerals) are typically found on the woodland floor, and do all of their growing early in the season before trees leaf out. This is the only time they’ll get full sun during the growing season! Other wildflowers that grow in more open areas tend to grow and bloom later, because they are not limited by sunshine availability. 

(some common wildflowers you may see: Mayapple, violet, cutleaf toothwort, wild onion)

Remember: Stay on the trails!

• As you face the front of the Hughes Log Cabin, take the footpath to the left of the cabin, going uphill. 

• Once at the top, notice you are flanked by two big oak trees. If you turn around, you’ll see the back side of the cabin. 

• Facing back uphill, take the path to the left. Stay on this path for 60 (small person) steps. You should stop when you notice a rock cairn (way-marking stacks of rocks)on your right. Directly across the trail from that cairn is a small, little-used path leading downhill. An adult should take the lead down this path. Tread with care and go single file. It will be easy to lose your way if you don’t pay attention. Spring wildflowers are out so choose each step carefully! 

• The Oaken Overlook Fairy gets easily lost, which explains why her house is close to the edge of the woods. There are rock cairns and branches lining the way to her door, so no one loses their way.

• Continue downhill, keeping the branch trail markers on your right, looking ahead for rock cairns to direct your way. Scan to the left to spy the biggest tree in the area. The fairy door is located at the base, opposite a tire-sized burl on its trunk.

Remember, fairies are small, so look down as you search! 

Once you find the door, take a picture and post it with #getoutsidewashpa !

#fairydoors have been sighted in Washing
ABOUT
What's here?
On your way to 
No. 2
Block House

What's Here?

On your way to the Block House

In the Washington County Historical Society’s Frontier History Center, The Block House is the log structure within the fort. Historically, a block house served as an easily defended refuge from enemy attacks. In the case of early catfish creek farmers, it would have protected families from indian attacks. Families would remain in the block house for days, weeks, or months at a time. The Fort Site is located on higher ground. This means you’ll be travelling uphill...stretch out those legs!

As you head uphill, notice how the plants and soils may be different. Often, Rain Water doesn’t have time to soak in on a hillside, so hillside plants have to be adapted to drier conditions. Here you may notice trees such as elm, sugar & red maple, hackberry, or black cherry. You’ll also notice a lot of exposed sandstone along the path. 

Why do you think these rocks are more exposed on a hillside path?

Remember: Stay on the trails!

Starting at the Oaken Overlook Fairy Door: Take the path back uphill, to the main trail and the first cairn. Turn right on the trail, and after a few paces, notice the path on your left, leading uphill. look back and see if you can pick out the tree where the oaken overlook door was. Look to the side and find the cabin. This is a good thing to practice as you  make turns on trails. Look around and observe! 

• Take this path, counting 35 steps uphill. 

• Upon reaching the next fork, you have three options...to your left and directly in front of you are well used paths. In the middle is a lesser-used trail.  Take the left-most trail and head uphill 25 steps. 

• Turn to the right uphill and take about 50 steps. As you walk, you’ll notice a tip-up, or a tree that has fallen over, along with all of its roots and some soil as well.  Continue counting, and at your 50th step, you should see the No. 2 Block House Fairy Door. 

• The tree behind the fairy door has very bumpy bark and is called hackberry . Learn to recognize this bark, it is on your walk to the Open Woodland Fairy Door!

Remember, fairies are small, so look down as you search! 

Once you find the door, take a picture and post it with #getoutsidewashpa !

20200429_154339.jpg
ABOUT
What's here?
On your way to 
Open Woodland Door

What's Here?

On your way to the Open Woodland

As you continue your journey, note how your surroundings change:

Do you notice any new plants? Is the soil drier or wetter? Is there more or less visible sky?  Remember to enjoy the journey on your way to the next door!

As you emerge from the woods, you’ll see a clearing. This is the frontier history center. The fort and several other shelters occupy this space. look to the ground for turkey feathers or tracks. Turkeys eat seeds off the ground in this small meadow. Insect eaters like swallows or blue birds will also be happy here, as many flying insects live in meadows.

In springtime you’ll notice mayapples and violets in this meadow. Later in the summer you’ll see goldenrod, aster, fleabane, and grasses. The trees in this area are black cherry, black locust, and even a few apple trees.

Remember: Stay on the trails!

Starting from the No. 2 Block House Fairy Door: head uphill to the back of the blockhouse. a few paces out of the woods and to the right is another hackberry tree. Can you see it? It’s only about a 5” thick trunk (remember, hackberry has bumpy  bark). Look past the hackberry onto the small meadow. Really observe what you see before moving on.

 How does this space feel, smell, sound, and look compared to where you’ve been?

• Walk along the fort to the main trail. Head to your right (uphill). As you walk, you’ll pass another outlying, 3-sided shelter and bench.

 

Continue along this main trail, following the curve into a wooded clearing (open woodland). 

• Behind two walls is a half stump/half tree. Walk toward it, and as you look for the door, be mindful of where you step. Violets, mosses, and ferns abound here! This door has a fairy window.

Remember, fairies are small, so look down as you search! 

Once you find the door, take a picture and post it with #getoutsidewashpa !

ABOUT
What's here?
On your way to 
Weaver's Bend

What's Here?

On your way to Weaver's Bend

We’ll be leaving the open woodland, and heading downhill. Did you wear your old sneakers? We may be in for some mud! 

As you head to Weaver’s Bend, enjoy a walk in the woods! you’re in an Appalachian Oak-Hickory Forest. You will see a number of new species of trees as you walk: hickories, elms, maples, oaks, tulip poplars, and beech, along with our common companions like black cherry. On the ground, there is a thick layer of invasive (grow and spread like crazy!) shrubs and vines like privet, honeysuckle,  & bittersweet. but there is also a great little native shrub called spicebush!

As you walk downhill, take care not to slip on wet clay. Also note the exposed rock on the steeper parts of the trail.

 Did you figure out why the rock is so much more visible on hillside trails? 

Erosion.

As hikers, bikers, and runners use the trail, they prevent plants from growing. With no plant roots to hold soil in place, Rain, wind, and animals (like us) wear soil away, exposing rocks below.

As you follow the directions to Weaver’s Bend, you’ll notice that the trail becomes very muddy. Weaver’s Bend cuts across the hillside, catching the (water) runoff from uphill. Clay soils do not drain well, and quickly become saturated (full) with water. Once this happens, rainfall flows over the top of the soils (causing erosion) if there is a slope, or sits and forms puddles if the land is flat, like the Weaver’s Bend Trail. Does this sound like your backyard after a day or two of rain? This makes for a sloppy (but fun) walk after a rain!

Here trees that don’t mind ‘wet feet’, thrive: Black Cherry, Red Maple, and Elm. There are MANY invasive plant species in this wet area as well, bittersweet vines and grasses are abundant. The Weaver Fairy uses them to her advantage! She also enjoys the soft mosses that thrive on fallen logs here, and the cover mayapple leaves provide in the spring.

IMG-0122.JPG.jpg

Remember: Stay on the trails!

• From the Open Woodland Fairy Door, Make your way back to the main trail. Head left (downhill)

• Watch for a large tree with a red blaze (marking) on your left. To your right is The Weaver’s Bend Trail. Take this.

• As you walk, look for a fallen log with a backward ‘e’ in it’s center.

• Next you will spy a tip-up. Count 15 steps and you’ll be at the Weaver’s Bend Fairy Door!

Once you find the door, take a picture and post it with #getoutsidewashpa !

• There is one more fairy door to go...but it’s on the way back to the cabin. You can go back the way you came, or continue forward. When you come to the baseball field, follow the trail back into the woods to the right, and you’ll be heading back downhill to the cabin!

Once at the cabin, just take a tour around &

you’ll find our last fairy door: Wings & Things.

 

Once you find the door, take a picture and post it with #getoutsidewashpa !