Tag Archives: GeoChallenges

Five Fun Activities at Leesylvania State Park

Contributed by Kerry Lynch of Discover Prince William & Manassas

Get out of the house this weekend and take advantage of these five fun activities at Leesylvania State Park. Home to Virginia’s legendary Lee and Fairfax families, Leesylvania State Park is just 25 miles from Washington, D.C. providing a great escape from the city. Listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, this state park is a must-visit. With breathtaking river views of the Potomac River to challenging hikes, Leesylvania State Park in Prince William & Manassas, VA has it all.

1) Get on the Water

Sailboats on the water in Prince William & Manassas

Image: Discover Prince William & Manassas

Always wanted to learn how to sail the seven seas? Take up lessons or just charter a sailboat for the day at Woodbridge Sailing School located at Leesylvania State Park. Lessons are given by fully certified sailors, with custom packages available. Want to start out with something smaller? The park also has kayaks and canoes available to rent. See if you can spot beaver or blue heron while paddling on the river.

2) Soak Up a Little History

Leesylvania has quite the history as it was once home to Revolutionary War hero, Henry Lee II, father of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Explore the remains of the ancestral Lee home and discover the Confederate artillery battery, located at Freestone Point. The battery was in action on September 25, 1861 when it exchanged shots with Union vessels in the river. Walk the trail that interprets the battery and the Civil War history that took place. 

3) Hunt for Treasure

Test your skills and spend a day geocaching! See if you can find the hidden caches that are located throughout the park. Geocaching is a great activity for individuals or for groups.

4) Go Fishing

People fishing at Prince William & Manassas

Take the kids fishing at Leeslyvania State Park [Image Credit: Discover Prince William & Manassas]

Leesylvania is known for its many fishing opportunities from standing on the 300-foot fishing pier or off the docks. Spend a lazy weekend casting your pole in the fresh water and enjoying the views of the Potomac. Try to catch largemouth bass, catfish, or perch.

5) Challenge Your Fitness Level

People hiking in Leesylvania State Park

Take a hike through Leeslyvania State Park. [Image Credit: Discover Prince William & Manassas]

Leesylvania has five separate hiking trails; all incorporate the natural geography and historical features of the land. Tackle the fitness hiking trail, which includes 20 different stations to let you focus on balance, strength training, cardio and stretching. The park also contains a segment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, a designated trail network that follows the paths explored by George Washington.

For more activities and fun around Prince William & Manassas, Virginia, check out discoverpwm.com. You can find suggestions on accommodations and dining while visiting Leesylvania State Park. Don’t forget to share how you #discoverpwm!

Explore Missouri With The Year of the Trail Challenge

Missouri state parks and historic sites have many fantastic features, but this year they are highlighting one in particular: the trails. There are so many amazing hikes to enjoy that Missouri has officially made 2014 the “Year of the Trail” in its state parks and historic sites.

missouri year of the trail

Although there is hardly a need for extra incentive to enjoy an outing along any of the state’s terrific trails, we teamed up with Missouri to create one anyway: The MO Year of the Trail Challenge for our Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites Pocket Ranger® app.

If you haven’t already, simply download the app, head to PocketRanger.com to create a Pocket Ranger eXchange™ profile, join the GeoChallenge, and prepare for some serious exploring.

elephant rocks state park

Elephant Rocks State Park is just one of the fun locations you’ll get to explore on the challenge.
[Image: www.americanforests.org]

The challenge will lead you to everything from short, paved trails to wilderness treks. Whether you’re in the mood for a leisurely walk or a more serious hike, there are more than enough trails to satisfy. To earn points at each trail, just check in at the trailhead. Simple!

When you visit 5 trailheads and earn 25 points, you’ll score a Year of the Trail water bottle. If you earn up to 50 points by making it to 10 trailheads, you’ll snag yet another prize, a certificate for a hiking stick to be redeemed at a state park or historic site. If you’re more into the competition than the rewards, you’ll also enjoy seeing yourself climb the Leaderboard on Pocket Ranger eXchange™ each time you accumulate points.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Ha Ha Tonka State Park, another scenic location on this challenge.
[Image: www.visitmo.com]

The best news is, 2014 is still young! That means you have until December 31 to complete this challenge, but with so much to see at Missouri state parks and historic sites, why would you want to wait? Winners will be selected monthly, so the sooner you begin, the closer you’ll be to racking up points and scoring prizes.

If you’re in need of an introduction or refresher course on what a GeoChallenge is or how to play, check out parts 1 and 2 of our GeoChallenge guide.

To play The MO Year of the Trail Challenge, click here.

Carolina Beach State Park

Here’s what you look for when choosing a state park to visit: natural beauty, campsites, fishing areas, hunting areas, swimming opportunities, boat ramps, picnic areas, hiking trails, and interpretive centers. (You can also look for climbing opportunities, biking trails, or really a bazillion other things. Seriously; “bazillion” is a really precise term.) That being said, our list still includes a bunch of the main requirements to qualify for “best state park destination”.

Natural beauty? Check! [Image: www.dpr.ncparks.gov]

Natural beauty? Check!
[Image: www.dpr.ncparks.gov]

So, when you find one that has all of those things, plus an opportunity to see not one, not two, not three or four, but FIVE CARNIVOROUS PLANT SPECIES (that’s right! They are PLANTS that eat ANIMALS or INSECTS and they’re real and not in science fiction movies!) you know you’ve hit the jackpot.

And today’s jackpot is Carolina Beach State Park, of Carolina Beach, North Carolina fame. Speaking of fame – you can get some. Really! All you have to do is play the NC- “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge. You know, a scavenger hunt game you play using your Pocket Ranger® app. Fame, glory, and prizes will follow.

Here’s a roundup of things you can expect to find at the park.

Water, Water, Everywhere

And not a drop to drink! Unless you’re at the marina, because in that case, snacks (and bottled water, we assume) are available for purchase. You can also get fuel and utilize the restrooms.

Carolina Beach State Park's Marina [Image: www.dpr.ncparks.gov]

Carolina Beach State Park’s Marina.
[Image: www.dpr.ncparks.gov]

But wait! Back up! Okay. We’re at the marina! The marina has two launching ramps and 54 boat slips. If you rent a slip, you can use the showers, too.

This here marina is located at the junction of Snow’s Cut and the Cape Fear River. Boating opportunities abound, guys. Ahoy, mateys!

A Little More Water (if you can even believe it!)

So, we’ve mentioned that there’s some water at Carolina Beach State Park. This would make sense, considering it has “beach” in its name. But we’ve only talked about the boating opportunities thus far! You see, there is also fishing at the park. You can fish from all sorts of water-oriented places: the river bank, the wheelchair-accessible fishing deck (now THAT’S what we call an amenity!), or, as discussed, you can launch your boat at the marina. For all you anglers out there, get ready to hook some spot, flounder, sheepshead, and striped bass! Just make sure you have a North Carolina Coastal Recreational Fishing License – it’s required in order to fish in the park.

Just doing some fishing at Carolina Beach State Park. [Image: www.dpr.ncparks.gov]

Just doing some fishing at Carolina Beach State Park. [Image: www.dpr.ncparks.gov]

Take a Walk

Let’s get you out of the water and onto dry land. Oh, and it just so happens that the dry land at Carolina Beach State Park lends itself to hiking trail quite nicely. And by quite nicely, we mean that there are six miles of hiking trails for you to walk on. Now, let’s play choose your own adventure. Except, we’re going to choose for you.

Take a stroll on the half-mile loop called the Flytrap Trail, where you can see the famous Venus flytraps (you know, one of those carnivorous plants we talked about earlier) along with native orchids. You’ll get points on the challenge for heading there, or for moseying down the Sugarloaf Trail, which, among other things, provides a great place for bird watching, pine forest-seeing, and fiddler crab-observing.

It also leads you to the Sugarloaf, a 50-foot sand dune that was part of a ridge of sand dunes formed thousands of years ago. It got its name because it looks like, you guessed it, a loaf of sugar – or the mounds of sugar found in the ports of Barbados. It’s also a historic landmark; it has appeared on navigational charts as early as 1738. Oh, and if you haven’t guessed, it’ll definitely be a location on your GeoChallenge.

It's a hill. It's a mound. It's the Sugarloaf! [Image: www.dpr.ncparks.gov]

It’s a hill. It’s a mound. It’s the Sugarloaf!
[Image: www.dpr.ncparks.gov]

Camping and Classes

At Carolina Beach State Park, there is not one but two kinds of camping available. There’s family camping, meaning 83 campsites with two wheelchair-accessible sites. There’s also group camping; two camping areas for organized groups are available by advance registration only. One site accommodates 25 people, and the other has room for 35.

Carolina Beach State Park also has school! Well, sort of; park rangers lead informative hikes called Carnivorous Plant Hikes, where you can see and learn about carnivorous plants! You know, the ones we’ve been SO EXCITED TO LEARN ABOUT! That include, of course, venus flytraps, but also pitcher plants, bladderworts, sundews, and butterworts! These learning legwarmers (just go with it! walking warms your legs, right?) are on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 10am in September. Click here for a schedule.

Speaking of schedules, we’ve really got to run. And hike. And check out carnivorous plants in North Carolina. So, we’ll see you at Carolina Beach State Park? Sounds like a plan!

See you for the (Cape Fear) sunset! [Image: www.dpr.ncparks.gov]

See you for the (Cape Fear) sunset!
[Image: www.dpr.ncparks.gov]

Play the Washington State Park & Read Challenge!

Just in time for the American Library Association’s Library Card Sign-up Month (also known as September) we recently launched our latest and greatest GeoChallenge for The Evergreen State: Washington State Park and Read Challenge!

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While Washington’s exceptional state parks offer endless recreational opportunities, they are also great spots to relax and recharge with a book in hand. The scenic landscape and top-notch facilities at the parks make these destinations great places to curl up with a book.

With that in mind, The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission teamed up with Timberland Regional Library District to develop this fun new challenge, which features libraries and state parks in Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific and Thurston counties. You’ll first score points when you visit the libraries to check out a book, and then earn more points when you reach the designated reading geo-locations at the parks. As you rack up points, you’ll not only have the glory of seeing yourself climb the Leaderboard on PocketRanger.com, you will also be closer to scoring sweet prizes!

Scenic Hood Canal beaches are just one of the places where you can relax with a book when you play the challenge. [Image: www.attemptedphotography.tumblr.com]

Scenic Hood Canal beaches are just one place where you can relax with a book when you play the challenge.
[Image: www.attemptedphotography.tumblr.com]

Wondering what prizes lay in store? The first four players to record visits to 10 locations will receive a $5 iTunes or Google Play Gift Card, while the first four participants to record visits to 20 locations will snag a $10 iTunes or Google Play Gift Card. In both cases, winners may choose which gift card they prefer. There is also a Grand Prize reserved for the first participant who records visits to all participating libraries and state parks: a $40 gift card to an outdoor apparel/gear retailer, plus an Annual Washington State Discover Pass!

Of course, glory and prizes are not the only reasons to sign up for the Washington State Park and Read Challenge. There is no better way for you and your family to get in the back-to-school spirit than by signing up for a library card at any of Timberland Regional Library District’s participating libraries. Although the challenge and Library Card Sign-up Month end on September 30, a love of reading stays with you for life.

If you haven’t already, head to PocketRanger.com to create a Pocket Ranger eXchange profile. Then join the challenge, and get started on your Washington State Park and Read Challenge!

Goddard Memorial State Park

As humans who graduated from high school years ago, we normally don’t pay any mind to popularity contests. But when we find out that a state park is the most popular Metropolitan Park in Rhode Island, we pay attention. And then we write a blog post about it. So, here it is. Welcome to Goddard Memorial State Park. Located in Warwick, Rhode Island, it’s the perfect setting in which to play the Post Grape Nuts-Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge. Here’s what to expect!

Goddard Memorial State Park Golf Course

Image: www.yelp.com

Golf

Looking for a slightly out of the ordinary feature of Goddard Memorial State Park? Look no further than the golf course! It’s open from April 1st through November 30th, and from 7:30am to dusk, weather permitting. Opened in 1939, the 9-hole, USGA-rated public course, called “Goddard Memorial”, is a great place to put on your Polos, bring out your clubs, and start yelling out “fore!” Added bonus? You’ll earn points on the GeoChallenge for taking a swing!

Bay Beach at Goddard Memorial State Park

Image: Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Parks & Recreation

Beach

This picturesque bay beach is a great setting for swimming, boating, and fishing. Since the waves aren’t too big, and it’s not too busy of a place, it’s a perfect summer spot for young kids. There’s a lifeguard on duty from 10am to 6pm, seasonally.

C and L Stables at Goddard Memorial State Park

Image: www.riphoto.com/places/goddard-park

C and L Stables

Another big draw to Goddard Memorial State Park? C and L Stables! Located right in the park, C and L offers beach bayside rides, in addition to outings covering any or all of the 18 miles of bridle trails. A reservation is recommended to snag a ride with a new equine friend, but they’re open on the weekends for walk-ins. With everything from riding lessons to group events, there’s no excuse not to go hang out with some horses, and earn some points on your GeoChallenge. (And you and the horses may even play some soccer, according to the photo above.)

Carousel Performing Arts Table at Goddard Memorial State Park

Image: Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Division of Parks & Recreation

Carousel Performing Arts Building

Once upon a time, in the historic park that is Goddard Memorial State Park, a carousel was one of the popular features. From 1931 to 1973, it made visitors happy and twirled and did other kinds of carousel stuff. But in 1973, it was sold and shipped off to another place. It left its pavilion empty, but now its joyful spirit lives on, because the pavilion has been refurbished for events, private parties, concerts, and weddings!

And more

Goddard Memorial State Park is almost like an arboretum, in that it’s home to trees from all over the world, including 62 deciduous and 19 evergreen species. There are also 355(!) picnic tables for your dining pleasure. Eleven game fields even out the recreational activities.

So, there you go! If we gave you any more info on Goddard Memorial State Park, we’d have to take you there. Which we might be willing to do, if we were all going to play the RI- “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge

You know where to find us!

Goddard Memorial Park

[Image: www.yelp.com]

The “Niagara of the South”: Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

Sometimes you want things that just can’t happen: snow falling on a 90 degree day, dusting off your (nonexistent) wings to fly to your next meeting, magically checking out Niagara Falls without leaving the state of Kentucky (which you, for some reason or other, happen to be in.)

But wait! Hold on a moment! Turns out you totally can see Niagara Falls without leaving Kentucky. And by that, we mean you can see Cumberland Falls, the “Niagara of the South”! Which is basically a completely different waterfall in a completely different place. That happens to be located in a mighty fine place. Which happens to be called Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, located in Corbin, Kentucky. And if you’re getting sick of all the “happens to be”, try to deal with the next clause: this mighty fine state park happens to be one of those mighty fine locations that’s home to a Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge. Which happens to be a fun and easy way to tour a state park using your Pocket Ranger® app.

And now, we happen to be in the mood to outline some of the mighty fine attractions that you’ll find if you decide to (geo)challenge yourself at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.

Cumberland Falls. Too lovely a sight for us to caption. [Image: Kentucky Department of Parks]

Cumberland Falls. Too lovely a sight for us to caption.
[Image: Kentucky Department of Parks]

Cumberland Falls and The Moonbow

As discussed, the “Niagara of the South” is a pretty impressive waterfall. But it’s made even more impressive by the fact that on a clear night during a full moon, the mist of the falls creates a moonbow! (How’s that for something you thought can’t happen?) Indeed, the moonbow is a rainbow, except subtract the rain and add the moon. To make it even cooler, Cumberland Falls is the only place in the Western Hemisphere where you can catch a glimpse of this amazing phenomenon!

Moonbow= Rainbow. Except there’s no rain! Just the moon! Crazy! [Image: Kentucky Department of Parks]

Moonbow= Rainbow. Except there’s no rain! Just the moon! Crazy!
[Image: Kentucky Department of Parks]

Trails

When they wrote that song about those boots being made for walkin’, they were talking about the hiking boots you’ll be using to navigate all the trails at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. Seriously, guys! There are, like, 17 miles of hiking trails at this place. One of them happens to be Eagle Falls Trail, a 1.5 mile path that’s actually the only way to get to Eagle Falls, another lovely waterfall that’s a must-see for any GeoChallenger.

Other trails of note include the Cumberland Falls Trail, which is home to a scenic lookout, below the falls, that will earn you points on the challenge. Another essential stop for the game is on the 10.8 mile Moonbow Trail. There’s a scenic lookout alongside the Laurel River that’ll give you a chance to relax and soak in all that beauty.

Birding

Calling all birders! (Get it?) You’ll get a lot of avian action at the park; tons of species fly through these parts, like Pileated Woodpeckers, Wood Warblers, Carolina Chickadees, Northern Cardinals, Dark-eyed Juncos, Downy Woodpeckers, White-Breasted Nuthatchs, and more!

Definitely a chance of spotting a downy woodpecker, like this one. [Image: www.fcps.edu]

Definitely a chance of spotting a downy woodpecker, like this one.
[Image: www.fcps.edu]

Gem Mining

Here’s an unusual one for you: the newest attraction at the park is the Cumberland Falls Mining Company, located just past the Gift Shop. You can buy bags for $10 and under, and dig through Moonstone, Topaz, Obsidian, Amethyst, Quartz, and more gemstones and fossils! The hours are 9am to 7pm, depending on the weather.

Camping and Fishing and Horseback Riding, Oh My!

The park boasts 50 campsites with electric and water hookups and a central service building with showers, bathrooms, a grocery, and dump station. Pets are allowed if restrained, but you better plan to get there soon, because it’s closed for the season starting November 15th through March 15th.

The Cumberland River’s a great place to fish for bass, catfish, panfish, and roughfish. There’s also a great horseback riding program; the park offers guided trail rides that accommodate all abilities and preferences. If you’re six or older (props to all you readers that are six, if there are any), you can take a 45-minute ride through this eastern Kentucky forest.

Raft away, raft away, raft away. [Image: Kentucky Department of Parks]

Raft away, raft away, raft away.
[Image: Kentucky Department of Parks]

There are tons of other things to do, too, like rafting, swimming, tennis, shuffleboard, playing horseshoes, etc.

Oh, and if you were wondering why Cumberland Falls is a Resort Park, here’s your answer! Resort parks have lodges with overnight accommodations. Kentucky has 17 of these State Resort Parks.

Check out that view from the lodge patio! (This is, after all, a resort park.) [Image: Kentucky Department of Parks]

Check out that view from the lodge patio! (This is, after all, a resort park.)
[Image: Kentucky Department of Parks]

Check out the park’s website for more ideas! And before you pack your bags and get a’movin, make sure you’ve joined the KY-Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge, so you can play at the park!

Over 5 Reasons to Visit Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

Greetings, blogosphere! Today we’ve decided we’re over New York (where PBN is headquartered), so we’re following our healthy sense of wanderlust and heading to the Midwest. We’d tell you to grab your tent and camping gear and come along for the ride, but we’re not sure of your schedule, so we figured you can experience the trip vicariously until you’re ready to plan your own.

The good thing about this virtual trip is that it isn’t subject to normal constraints, like time, so man, that was fast! We’ve arrived! Our first (and only) stop on this trip is Eugene T. Mahoney State Park in Ashland, Nebraska, which is in between Omaha and Lincoln. Since we want to be the best tour guides we can be, we’re enlisting the help of our Pocket Ranger® apps. And, lo and behold! Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is one of the places participating in the Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge. Wow, can you believe this luck?! (You shouldn’t. We fixed it!) But we did that for good reason! Because, honestly, the only way to tour a park should be with this fun and useful scavenger hunt game. It leads you to all the best features of the park and gives you the chance to win prizes. So, now that that’s established, let’s get GeoChallenging.

Activity Center

The first stop on our tour is the Activity Center, where you will find, for lack of a better word, lots of activity! The park is great for all seasons, partially because the Activity Center provides year-round entertainment by housing an indoor playground, a concession stand, and an ice skating rink. In fact, there’s so much fun to be had there that you may not even want to leave to visit the rest of the park! (Not that we recommend that. We’re just saying it’s a pretty fantastic place!) It’s so fantastic, in fact, that visiting will put you ahead in the (GeoChallenge) game. For more information, see here.

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park Ice Skating

Image: www.outdoornebraska.ne.gov

The Family Aquatic Center

The next stop on the tour is the Family Aquatic Center. Here, you’ll find a 0-depth swimming pool, a wave pool, yet another concession stand, and curling, 200-plus foot waterslides! It’s open daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, weather-permitting. And, you’ll earn points on your GeoChallenge for swimming, splashing, and sliding.

Eugene T. Mahoney Family Aquatic Center

Image: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Activities Galore

In addition to what we’ve already seen, there are tons of other things to do! What do we have here, you say? We’ve got miniature golf! We’ve got a driving range! We’ve got tennis and basketball courts and softball fields! We’ve got horse trails and hiking trails and biking trails! And we’re still not done yet! We’ve got a 70-foot observation tower (which will get you points on the Challenge!)  We’ve got picnicking and crafts and fishing! We’ve got paddle boating and a nature conservatory! And now we’ve got a sore throat from listing all of the many and wonderful activities we’ve got.

Eugene T. Mahoney dock

Image: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

And even more activities (but now we’re talking winter-focused)

Lest you forget, Mahoney is truly a year-round destination. Depending on conditions, you can cross country ski, sled, go on toboggan runs, snowboard, and ice fish!

Eugene T. Mahoney Snowboarding

Image: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

The Many Lodging Options

So now that we’ve seen and done most of the many things Mahoney has to offer, (which is a pretty incredible feat, considering we were able to snowboard and swim outdoors on the same day. Seriously, what an advantage this whole virtual tour thing is!) we should probably find a place to stay the night. Lucky for us, the park has loads of options!

First there’s the Little Creek and Lakeside campgrounds, which offer spacious pads under the trees near Owen Marina Lake. Modern shower and latrine buildings, along with drinking water, are located nearby.

We can also choose to stay in the Eugene T. Mahoney State Park cabins, which are modern housekeeping cabins “secluded on wooded ridgetops”. They’re equipped with linens, basic cookware, outdoor decks, and other amenities, and have either three, four, or six bedrooms.

Eugene T. Mahoney Lodge

Image: Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

Last but not least, there’s the Peter Kiewit Lodge, which contains 40 guest rooms. Each room has AC and heat, wireless Internet, a private bath, a TV, and a telephone. If you’re feeling luxe and don’t want to camp, it’s a great option. Most of the rooms have decks with a great view of the Platte River.

[7-10 Hours Later]

Hey, we don’t know how long you sleep (especially in virtual reality.) But now that we’ve camped, the tour is over. We hope you’ll come back in real life to play the Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge!