A Visit To Holden Arboretum’s New Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower

by Elsa Johnson

Of course it’s neat! 

When I was a kid we had a big sugar maple at the end of our driveway with one low branch so that a child could jump up, grab it, and swing herself up; after that there were regularly spaced branches. One could climb up as high as one dared to go… which in my case was not very high. My brother climbed it to the top, and so did the neighbor boy (and fell and bounced off every branch on the way down, but miraculously did not break a single bone – though he never tried climbing that tree again, either).

The Arboretum Canopy Walk puts you up there at the top of that big sugar maple, so to speak, and it isn’t scary one bit. The ascent is a solid gradual ramp up to a tree-canopy-level walkway laid out in a triangle, with the interconnecting walkways suspended on cables between the non-moving transition-towers (think the Brooklyn Bridge on a much, much, much smaller scale).

It’s lovely and fun (of course the walkways bounce!), although not terribly educational at the moment (there was a notice saying that there will be educational signage coming soon)…but the walkway is beautifully designed, and the design is impeccably executed. One could go and appreciate it for no more reason than that. 

On to the Emergent Tower (yes, yes, a wacky name – what else is the purpose of a tower if not to emerge?) – and yes, yes, really worth the trip; I enjoyed every step of it. 

Like the canopy walk, the tower is an exquisite piece of well-thought-out functional design and construction detailing. Just one example is that the risers on the steps are slightly low, allowing even a couple ladies with one cranky knee apiece to walk up (and down) it without pain and hardly any sense of exertion. How cool is that! And every step of the trip is a visual pleasure, noticing how the floor grid allows one to look through, either down or up, turning the entire tower into an ever-changing kaleidoscope of beautiful metal and wood joinery.

The tower is 202 feet high, which is above the tree canopy at the top (having emerged). One can see in all directions….north to the lake, east toward Little Mountain, south and west… in every direction a green blanket of rolling hills and trees. Also a tension structure, there is wind movement. It is delicious. Go see.  0922151601

3 thoughts on “A Visit To Holden Arboretum’s New Canopy Walk and Emergent Tower

  1. Your report and pictures of the tree walk were just what I needed to decide to check the arboretum out for myself.

  2. Not positive but I thought the name Emergent Tower referred to the “emerging ” growth to the tree tops that we could never see from down below. But did visit with a friend in September and like your photos and description.

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