Dow Gardens Whiting Forest announces plans to build the longest fully accessible canopy walk, open year round, in the United States.      
  • Press release:
    MAY 20, 2016

    Media Kit (11.3mb)
    Dow Gardens Canopy Walk and Connectivity Project Announced  

    Innovative design elements and programming will create a national model for design-enhanced, visitor-directed outdoor play and exploration. The site will promote the belief that everyone, adults and children alike, benefit from play, especially in a natural, outdoor environment.

    The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation announces an exciting Canopy Walk & Connectivity project for The Dow Gardens in Midland, Michigan. The Dow Gardens Whiting Forest property consists of about fifty acres of native Michigan forest, meadows, and wetlands with large elevation changes unusual for Midland County.  This gift builds on The Foundation’s legacy of investing in the community and making a lasting impact.

    Canopy Walk – Branching Out to the Sky, Forest, and Water

    The Forest Canopy Walk at the Dow Gardens Whiting Forest will give visitors an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of forest, sky, and water with a fresh perspective. The walk is an 1100-foot long fully accessible experience which will take visitors to heights as high as 40 feet above the forest floor. Guests will have the opportunity to explore three elevated pathway branches which will lead them to three unique spaces. Each pathway will have incredible bird’s-eye views of the forest. One branch will highlight the open sky with views of an apple orchard reminiscent of those planted by Herbert H. Dow. Gazing at the orchard, guests will find themselves standing on a clear platform evoking the sensation of floating over the field below.  Another pathway will highlight the forest and include a large hammock high above the forest floor offering an additional opportunity to experience the trees from a new perspective. The third pathway will hover over quiet forest ponds with pods and a shelter over water encouraging retreat and reflection.

    Macauley Whiting Jr., President of The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation, reflected that as a boy he spent a great deal of time exploring the woods around his house where Whiting Forest now stands. The idea of a canopy walk and getting people up into the tree canopy stems from him wanting to share  the experiences he and his brother had growing up in the woods, climbing trees, and being active in nature.

    Bridges – Connection and Transition

    Two pedestrian bridges are planned as a means to increase connectivity between the gardens and forest. One bridge, inviting guests from The Dow Gardens Rose Garden, will reach deep into the forest over West St. Andrews Rd.  This connection will provide the visitors an opportunity to have the safe and unique experience of transitioning from formal gardens to natural Michigan forest.  A second bridge, designed to increase connectivity between the new Whiting Forest visitor center and Discovery Square, will provide a sense of movement and motion. At the point where the floor of the bridge changes to open grating, guests will have an exciting thirty foot view down to Snake Creek.

    Visitor Center

    Macauley and Helen Whiting were the original residents at 2203 Eastman Avenue. They built the house and lived there for thirty years, raising their family of six children. They donated their house to the Midland community when they retired. The home will be adapted to serve as the Visitor Center for The Dow Gardens Whiting Forest. Behind the Visitor Center, visitors will discover an expansive hill providing spacious views through to the forest. Stone seating will create a hillside gathering space with additional opportunities to gather on the patio and lawn above. The current visitor center will be improved and serve as The Lodge - a rental space designed with wood accents and beams along with a caterers kitchen.

    Playground - Outdoor Play and Exploration

    Adjacent to The Lodge will be a play space with multiple opportunities for outdoor play and exploration. The playground will have a series of safe and challenging outdoor experiences and include features which will encourage climbing, jumping, swinging, and even tunneling. Conversational seating is being intentionally designed to create a community gathering space.  A highlight will be the opportunity to sit by a waterfall while children engage in water play.


    Metcalfe Architecture & Design, LLC, of Philadelphia, PA creates social spaces and immersive experiences for its architecture and exhibit design clients.  The public understands the distinction between architecture and exhibit designer; architects are concerned with shaping and arranging spaces and exhibit designers are focused on crafting learning experiences within those spaces. In our practice, however, we’ve learned that the two disciplines are more similar than different, and that each has something to gain from the other. We are concerned with putting things together in ways that attract, inspire and unite people.

    Clients include:
    Academy of Natural Sciences
    Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania
    Brooklyn Botanic Garden
    American Museum of Natural History
    New York Botanical Garden
    Haverford College
    Franklin Institute
    Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

    Jonathan Alderson Landscape Architects, Inc. in Wayne, PA, is a design practice that is passionately focused on developing innovative approaches to shaping the land. They believe that using native plantings and materials in combination with a strong concern for land and site ecology creates artful and sustainable places. Significant projects include an 86-acre Meadow Garden for Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA and the new elevated walk at Chanticleer Garden, Wayne, PA.

    Construction Details

    This gift from The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation aligns with other community initiatives to promote economic development and vitality in Midland. This initiative complements investments led by the City and County of Midland, Momentum Midland, and other community organizations.
    The Dow Gardens Whiting Forest property currently offers a variety of hiking trails, ponds, and a covered bridge for visitors to explore. The forest will be closed beginning in July 2016 until construction is complete. The Dow Gardens Whiting Forest Lodge rental will close temporarily for improvements and re-open in November. The Dow Gardens, where the Art of Dr. Seuss: A Bronze Tribute Collection is currently on display, will continue to be open every day from 9:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. 

    • Slide Title

      Write your caption here

    • Slide Title

      Write your caption here

    • Slide Title

      Write your caption here

    Share by: