Story Book Trail

A Delight for All Ages

In the spring of 2021, a group of Hessel School House volunteers and staff built an 18-station storybook trail. It is primarily geared to 5- to 9-year-olds but has large appeal for all ages. The storybook trail winds through the wooded area immediately west of the historic schoolhouse, where its former students once played imaginative games and built tree forts during the late 1930s through the 1950s. Today, children of all ages are greeted by a large moose and bench at the beginning of the trail.

Pages of the featured story are posted on stations along the path. Between each station, children are delighted to discover fairies houses, a ladybug crossing, tiny turtles, and more as they walk along wood chip lined path. The trail also includes a small outdoor classroom for nature programs.

A variety of titles featuring Great Lakes lore are posted throughout the summer and shoulder seasons. Watch our website and Facebook page to see which book is being featured. The books displayed on the trail are available for purchase in our gift store and help fund programs of Hessel School House/Avery Arts & Nature Learning Center.

Be sure to sign our guestbook located in the mailbox at the trail entrance. Our staff and volunteers that maintain the trail love your feedback.

Time: Self-guided tour takes approximately 15-30 minutes. Difficulty: Uneven terrain; wood-chipped trail.

This Week’s Featured Book Is…

Beyond a Great Lakes tale, this is a timeless story for all who love Christmas, its traditions, and stories of the sea, including the vast inland sea that is Lake Michigan. The Christmas Tree Ship tells the tale of the storm that took the shipmen’s lives, their festive cargo, and the Rouse Simmons down to its final watery resting place. True to newspaper accounts, the author artfully explains how the Captain’s wife, dedicated to her husband’s memory, carries on his tradition of sailing schooners to deliver Christmas trees to the Chicago market. 

Christmas Tree Ship is written by Carol Crane and illustrated by Chris Ellison.

Books are available for purchase in the Hessel School House gift shop.