Philosophy Walks

Merlin MCC | Philosophy Walks

There are numerous reasons why getting out & about can help you live a healthier, happier, and more meaningful (deeply satisfying) life. Most people are aware of the physical benefits of being in nature, but there are also mental benefits.  Peripatetic philosophers such as the Ancient Greeks, for example, felt that there was a deep & intuitive connection between walking (in nature) & critical thought, so much so that they literally walked the earth & philosophized (hence the “prone to roam” moniker ‘peripatetic’).

We enthusiastically agree and feel that “getting your feet dirty” & “sittin’ in trees” is a critical part of philosophy. With this in mind, our philosophy walks aim to help you kick off your shoes, exercise your body & mind, and reconnect with nature in ways that help to promote health and happiness.

We offer philosophy walks for adults & elders, as well as children!  To view pictures from our philosophy walk outings, please visit our Merlin Meanderings Archive page.

Merlin Meanderings

We offer free guided philosophy walks (a.k.a. ‘Merlin Meanderings’) on Merlin Nature Preserve (and other local areas) Spring, Summer & Fall (and Winter – depending on weather).  The purpose of these fun meanderings are threefold — they allow an opportunity to: (1) exercise your body & mind, (2)  reconnect with nature, and (3) philosophically think about & discuss ideas and concerns that are important to you.  We will provide sign-up information and announce the date & location of our philosophy walks here.  You may also join our ‘Merlin Meanderings’  list to receive updates and/or contact us directly.

Thank you to P.L.A.T.O. for helping us to provide these activities to the Helena community!


Fall Philosophy Walk Series — September, October & November (See Dates Below)

We are thrilled to announce a special three-part collaborative philosophy walk series concerning environmental ethics, conservation/preservation, hunting & hunting ethics, governance/policy and communityEach walk will feature 1-2 guest speakers/philosophers-on-trail and will be geared for adults (though kids are welcome).  A background or training in philosophy is not necessary to participate.

FALL SERIES WALK 1: Sunday, September 24th (9am-12pm)

  • Theory/Environmental Ethics/Preservation/Conservation/Ecology/Wildlife & Habitat

Guest Speakers/Co-Philosophers-on-Trail:  Mark Smillie, Ph.D. (Professor of Philosophy & Environmental Ethics, Carroll College), Patricia Heiser, Ph.D. (Associate Professor of Earth Science, Carroll College) & Bill Hallinan (Wild Divide Chapter Volunteer, Montana Wilderness Association)

Location:  Merlin Nature Preserve (See directions below)

Other:  Bring a sack lunch and/or snack.  $10 suggested donation

Registration/RSVP:  Coming Soon!

FALL SERIES WALK 2: Thursday, October 19th (6:30pm-8:30pm)

  • History of Conservation & Hunting/Hunting v. Killing & Ethics of Hunting/Conceptual & Practical Challenges and Concerns

Guest Speakers/Co-Philosophers: Jim Posewitz (Biologist, Conservationist, Author, Emeritus Adjunct Professor of History & Philosophy, Montana State University, Founder, Orion, Emeritus Board Member, Cinnabar Foundation) & (TBD) Thomas Baumeister  (Education Supervisor, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Game, Executive Director, Montana WILD & Adjunct Professor, Carroll College)

Location: Presentation/Discussion to take place at Montana WILD (followed by an evening walk on adjacent trail for those interested)

Other:  Hot Tea/Coffee & Light Snacks Provided

Registration/RSVP:  Coming Soon!

FALL SERIES WALK 3: Sunday, November 12th (10am-1pm)

  • Policy/Process/Challenges & Concerns/Community Involvement

Guest Speakers/Co-Philosophers-on-Trail:  Nick Gevock, M.A. (Conservation Director, Montana Wildlife Federation)

Location:  Merlin Nature Preserve (See directions below)

Other:  Bring a sack lunch and/or snack.  $10 suggested donation

Registration/RSVP:  Coming Soon!


Halloween Philosophy Walk for Kids — Sunday, October 29th (10am – 1pm)

Our free October Merlin Meandering will take place on Sunday, October 29th from 10:00am – 1:00pm at Merlin Nature Preserve.  Wear your Halloween costumes & get ready for fun!  This walk will be geared specifically for kids and will have a Halloween & philosophy-based theme.  Special guest speaker/storyteller Martin Richard.  Plus…a hayride, hot apple cider & healthy, homemade cookies! 

Bring a sack lunch and/or snack.  Attendance by adults/parents/grandparents/siblings etc. are encouraged/welcome.   Space is limited for this special event.  $15 suggested donation.  Due to nature preserve logistics, registration and/or confirmation of attendance for our October Little Philosopher’s Walk is required.  Our group will meet in the Silver City Saloon parking lot & caravan to Merlin Nature Preserve (See directions below).

Registration:  Coming Soon!

View pictures from our 2016 Halloween Philosophy Walk for Kids!


What To Expect on our Philosophy Walks

Here is  a general overview of what you can expect on our Merlin Meanderings:

  • Free to the Public (donations welcome/appreciated)
  • 2-3 hour walks (opportunities for rest along the way)
  • Casual, positive & supportive experience
  • 1-2 philosophy guides; guest/volunteer nature guides (as available)
  • Small group sizes (generally 1-12 people; may be larger for special occasion walks)
  • Ample opportunity to enjoy nature

In addition, in order to facilitate philosophical dialogue, we will announce a topic of discussion on our website & via our ‘Merlin Mailer’ approx. 1 week prior to our meandering.  This will:

  • Allow time for you to ruminate on things that might be important to you (within that topic of discussion)
  • Encourage you to develop questions & explore possible solutions or further areas of exploration

To get the most out of your experience with us and enjoy a healthy & safe walk, please bring with you on the day of the walk/hike:

  • Water & Snack
  • Weather appropriate attire & sun protection
  • A walking stick/Trekking poles
  • Comfortable Shoes/Hiking Boots

If you are interested in participating or would like more information, please e-mail [email protected], call our office at #406-204-0064, or our executive director & philosophy walk guide (Marisa) at #406-439-5788.


Directions to Merlin Nature Preserve:  Our group will meeting in the Silver City silver-city-saloonSaloon parking lot located at 6042 Lincoln Road West.  From there we will caravan to Merlin Nature Preserve (approx. 3.5 miles from the SCS parking lot).  To reach the Silver City Saloon parking lot from Helena, take either the 15, N. Montana Ave. or Green Meadow Drive to Lincoln Rd.  Turn left onto Lincoln Road & head west (toward Marysville/Canyon Creek).  Drive roughly 6.5 miles.  Silver City Saloon will be on your right hand side.  Click here for google maps directions.

Due to nature preserve logistics, registration and/or confirmation of attendance for our Merlin Nature Preserve Philosophy Walks are required.   Because these philosophy walks will be on the preserve, please plan on arriving approx. 15 minutes before hike/walk start time.  For more information about the meandering, please contact our executive director & philosophy walk guide (Marisa) at #406-439-5788 or e-mail [email protected].


Philosophy Walk Donations

First things first & bottom line — our Merlin Meanderings are free.  Donations (by definition, in fact) are not required, though they definitely help to keep us going and we gladly welcome them.

Whether you are an active Merlin Meanderings walker or a community member who is unable to participate but loves the idea and wants to support the cause, you can donate to our philosophy walks in several ways: (a) in person, (b) via check, or (c) via our website.

Please remember, too, that we are a 501(c)(3) organization.  This means that your donations are tax-deductible!  Woot-Woot!

To Donate In Person

You can visit us at our in-town office anytime.  We are located at 119 Reeder’s Alley, Helena MT 59601.  Or if you are on a philosophy walk & wish to donate, you can do so then!

To Donate By Check

Please make checks out to ‘Merlin CCC‘ and mail to PO Box 2034, Helena MT 59624Don’t forget to include ‘Donation’ in the memo line.

To Donate By Credit Card or Debit Card

Please select the ‘Donate Now‘ button (located on the sidebar of our website) and complete the donation form.

To read some local press about our organization & our philosophy walks, see page 6 of the Montana Wilderness Association Wild Divide Chapter Newsletter.

Comments are closed