COLLEGEVILLE - Over 20 miles of diverse, scenic hiking is just minutes away at St. John's Abbey Arboretum.

Though the abbey has been around since 1856, the arboretum is relatively new. It wasn't until 1997 that the monks had their land labeled a natural arboretum.

Sarah Gainey is the Assistant Director of Environmental Education Coordinator. She says there are a few things to remember before you come out to the arboretum.

"It is private land, but we welcome people to come and walk as guests. It is a state game refuge, so we ask people to leave their bikes at home, leave their pets at home.You are welcome to come and explore the over 20 miles in trails."

Gainey is apart of the St. Johns Outdoor University program. Outdoor U provides education about the arboretum to people of all ages.

Gainey says Outdoor U alone gets thousands of people to the natural arboretum.

"We count over 20,000 visitors that Outdoor U is interacting with on some level. But we know there are thousands more people that we do not see."

Outdoor U is also in charge of up keep in the 2500 plus acre facility.

There are many different monuments along the trails as well as many different types of landscapes including hardwood forests, restored parries and wetlands.

Recently they decided to document the natural and human history of the land the natural arboretum is on. The book titled  The Nature of Saint John's: A Guide to the Landscape and Spirituality of Saint John's Abbey Arboretum.

If you are interested in learning more about the St. John's Abbey Arboretum book or want to learn more about programs at Outdoor U follow the links below.