Since it opened in July, many folks have enjoyed Sheridan Community Land Trust’s newest trail, Hidden Hoot.

On the west edge of Sheridan, Hidden Hoot offers visitors an experience in a secluded draw.

We’re often asked how Hidden Hoot got its name. The following too true tale just may answer that question — and serve as a reminder why we require dogs on leash.


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I wandered, weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of Hidden Hoot’s graveled floor — 

While I plodded, largely lapping, suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping, rapping at the trailhead door.

“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at the trailhead door —

Only this and nothing more.”


Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak Octember;

And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost on the treaded floor.

Eagerly I wished the morrow; — vainly I had sought to borrow

From my walks surcease of sorrow — sorrow for my lost Lenore —

For the rare and radiant canine whom the angels name Lenore —

Nameless here for evermore.


And the sullen, sad, rustlin’ raspin’ of each autumnal aspen

Thrilled me — filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;

So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating

“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at the trailhead door —

Some late visitor entreating entrance at the trailhead door; —

This it is and nothing more.”


Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,

“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;

But the fact is I was lapping, and so gently you came rapping,

And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at the trailhead door,

That I scarce was sure I heard you” — here I opened wide the door; —

Darkness there and nothing more.


Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;

But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,

And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”

This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!” —

Merely this and nothing more.


From there my tongue did mutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,

Close in perched a stately Hootowl of the saintly days of yore;

Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;

But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above the trailhead door—

Perched upon a bough of aspen just above the trailhead door—

Perched, and sat, and nothing more. 


Then this umber bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,

By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,

“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no cur fowl,

Ghastly grim and ancient Hootowl wandering from the Nightly shore—

Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”

Quoth the Hootowl “Nevermore.”


Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer

Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the trail’s graveled floor.

“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee — by these angels he hath sent thee

Respite — respite and Koltis-ke from thy memories of Lenore;

Quaff, oh quaff this kind Koltis-ke and forget this lost Lenore!”

Quoth the Hootowl “Nevermore.”


“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil! — prophet still, if bird or devil!

By that Heaven that bends above us — by that God we both adore —

Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Dayton,

It shall clasp a sainted canine whom the angels name Lenore —

Clasp a rare and radiant canine whom the angels name Lenore.”

Quoth the Hootowl “Nevermore.”


“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting —

“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!

Leave no brown plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!

Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bough above the trailhead door!

Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”

Quoth the Hootwol “Nevermore.”


And the Hootowl, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the auburn bough of aspen just above the trailhead door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted — nevermore!


Chris Vrba is director of marketing and development for Sheridan Community Land Trust.