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Phenology trails are excellent community engagement tools, designed to develop local partnerships.

Image credit:
Brian F Powell

Phenology Walks and Trails

Start a simple "Phenology Walk" at one location, with a pathway linking observation points together for data collection.  Phenology Walks, or Local Phenology Programs (LPPs), provide opportunities for more than one visitor to contribute data to the same suite of plans and animals marked for observation via our Group Functionality. Each walk has at least two species with multiple individual plants tagged for data collection. Once you've established your Phenology Walk, recruit others in your community to do the same at their locations.  

Then, you can link multiple locations to create a Phenology Trail. A "Phenology Trail" is a series of Phenology Walks and may be in one regional location (depending on the size, if it is large, such as a National Park) or many locations.

Functionally, Phenology Trails are networks of Nature's Notebook Local Phenology Programs. Linked together, these programs provide participants with places to visit, enjoy nature, collect data, and learn about supporting organizations. They provide researchers and managers a wealth of information about the phenology of local species of interest.   

Use Phenology Walks and Trails to celebrate the different ways we engage in phenology observation on a daily basis. 

Why Create a Phenology Walk?

  • To enhance aspects of an existing organization's program by tying activities together using phenology
  • To encourage active participation in a citizen science project
  • To provide opportunities for site visitors to experience and document seasonal changes in a given location
  • To connect local management and research practices with volunteer and visitor engagement
  • To teach about the scientific method and native species
  • To create opportunities for more than one person to submit observations with a Group

Why Create a Phenology Trail? 

  • To link local and regional phenology activities in a new way
  • To build connections between organizations with similar missions
  • To use research data to answer local science questions

More information can be found on our Phenology Walk and Trail Planning Guide, linked in the table below.

Learn about existing Phenology Trails and Networks

Take a look at some of our very active Phenology Trails. Get some ideas from them on how to organize a group of volunteers to collect observations. 

Active Phenology Trails »


Phenology Walk & Trail Development Resources

Walk or Trail Planning Materials

Local Phenology Program Planning Guide



Phenology Walk Main and Species Sign Design Instructions

These instructions and sign template provide a design to use for a Welcome sign and individual species marked for observation along your Phenology Walk. The Welcome Sign includes space for a map of your walk and details about why you are collecting observational data. The Species Sign provides space for full-form photos and phenophase photos and their definitions.

Editable Phenology Walk Welcome Sign Template

Editable Phenology Walk Species Sign Template

NOTE: Be sure to copy the phenophase definitions exactly as they appear in the Nature's Notebook monitoring program OR in the Simple Definitions linked below. This ensures consistency within the dataset.

If you'd like to limit the amount of text on your signs, please utilize our vetted Simple Phenophase Definitions instead of drafting your own text. Drafting your own text compromises data quality. 

Nature's Notebook Label Template - print on Avery 8160 labels or compatible. Appropriate for making plant tags for the field. Consider purchasing aluminum plant tags to affix the labels. Details can be found on page 9 of the Phenology Walk and Trail Guide.

Lessons Learned from the Field 

Building Plant Phenology Trails 

Recommendations for setting up a monitoring program from Valle de Oro Urban National Wildlife Refuge

Ask a question on our Local Phenology Leaders Listserv

or join our Local Phenology Leader Facebook Group  and Local Phenology Leader Community of Practice

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