A treehouse village has sprung up in the woods of Durham, N.C., and nature lovers are beating a path to it. Hideaway Woods, the Museum of Life and Science’s treehouse village, opened in September 2015, featuring a bird’s eye view of life plus a variety of nature experiences for all ages.
Situated on two acres beside the museum in Durham, Hideaway Woods offers several nature areas to explore, but the most remarkable stop is a network of eight interconnected and handcrafted treehouses which range in height from 6 feet to 20 feet. To get to the lower set of the four treehouses, visitors navigate through a cargo net, log ladder, spiral staircase and gangway. Slides allow for a quick descent to ground level, but if you’re ready to go higher, a climb across a rope bridge leads to the upper level.
While this main collection of treehouses is designed for older children and adults (yes, parents are encouraged to explore the interconnected treehouses with their children), children ages 6 and younger will find their own Young Explorers area designed for early childhood play. This miniature treehouse area has scaled slides, bridges and an area for nature-based imaginative play. A fence encloses this area, with only one way in and one way out, so children do not wander off into the woods by themselves.
Additional Hideaway Woods play areas include an accessible woodland stream, a woven branch sculpture by Chapel Hill artist Patrick Dougherty and imaginative play zones. Visitors can take a walk down the nature trail, wade through a stream and even lie in one of the seven hammocks set up for people to gaze up at the trees.
The rise of this treehouse playscape is part of national back-to-nature trend that aims to help people recharge through real experiences. Hideaway Woods feeds off the growing idea that nature play builds the whole person. Moving outdoors is thought to exercise the imagination, mind and body, and it’s an opportunity open to all in this patch of the woods.
Tips for visiting Hideaway Woods:
- Access to Hideaway Woods is included in the price for general museum admission, so after you visit this escape, be sure to check out all that the rest of the museum has to offer.
- Parts of the Hideaway Woods—such as one of the lower treehouses, the upper section of the stream, and the Sensory Ramble area—are accessible to people in wheelchairs.