Opened just over a year ago, Wildrock’s natural playscape and woodland trails north of Crozet have become well-known to local children, hosting over 40 area schools on interactive field trips as well as families, individuals, and senior citizens on public days, and serving over 5000 people in the last six months alone. What many may not know is that the park-like destination is a grassroots private nonprofit organization, not a county-run park, and thus needs a helping hand from time to time. Their first major fundraiser will be a “Tree Hugger Hike/Run” on Saturday, June 23 to support their mission of encouraging folks to get off the grid for a bit.
“We feel that the restorative connection with nature is a huge part of mental health,” said founder and director Carolyn Schuyler, herself a former therapist. “Our main focus is on early childhood nature play, and on making that positive association with open, rural, wilder green space for kids. We also have about seventeen nonprofit partners, such as the Boys and Girls Club, the Women’s Initiative, and Big Brothers Big Sisters, who visit us and enjoy the open spaces.”
The Tree Hugger event will feature a challenging 4.3-mile mountain trail run at 8am, as well as a more leisurely 1-mile forested trail hike, in which 20 trees will be marked with “Hug Me” signs for families to find along the way, at 11am. Following the hike, there will be free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and food truck fare for visitors, and the event will wrap up by around 1p.m. Online registration can be found at wildrock.org (under the Tree Hugger tab), or participants can also come out on the day of as space allows. Wildrock is located at 6600 Blackwells Hollow Road in Crozet.