Tag Archives: nature

Autumn and Accessible Trails

Autumn lends itself to outdoor adventure across much of the United States. The leaves are aflame, the air has become tinged with earthiness and the scent of woodsmoke, the mosquito population has dwindled, and it’s finally cool enough to be out and about in the middle of the day. In fact, with sweaters donned and knitted caps freshly retrieved from storage, it simply feels fantastic to be outside. With this in mind, coupled with the spirit of the 25th year of the Americans with Disabilities Act, now seems like the perfect time to highlight some trails that are accessible to nature lovers who happen to use wheelchairs or other adaptive equipment. These trails were chosen for their paved or highly compacted surfaces.

Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes—Mullan, ID

view of lake surrounded by trees at the accessible Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes

One of the many lovely vistas offered along the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.
[Image: http://taimages.railstotrails.org]

This 72-mile trail is paved for its entirety, offering 20 developed trailheads and 17 wayside stations for rest, rehydration, or a scenic picnic between Mullan and Plummer, ID. The trail is accessible for persons who use wheelchairs as well as runners, cyclists, in-line skaters, and even the occasional moose.

Call (208) 682-3814 for more information.

Cumberland County Biker/Hiker Trail—Gardners, PA

The Cumberland County Biker/Hiker Trail is two paved miles along some of Pennsylvania’s Pine Grove Furnace State Park. The park is notable for being the approximate middle point of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Travelers will enjoy proximity to two lakes, the Michaux State Forest, and all the charms and wiles that make the Appalachian Trail one of America’s most beloved outdoor destinations. If you are looking to combine a jaunt into nature and some family-oriented fun, the park’s 7th Annual Fall Furnace Festival is on Saturday, October 17th and Sunday, October 18th.

Call (717) 486-7174 for more information. 

Paseo del Bosque Trail—Albuquerque, NM

Paseo del Bosque Trail is a 16-mile paved, rather level pathway through Rio Grande Valley State Park in the heart of Albuquerque. The trail offers a unique and brilliant Southwestern beauty with a dash of autumn color in the leaves of the numerous cottonwoods that line the Rio Grande River. But visitors should seize this opportunity soon—predictions are that the peak color changes are already taking hold!

Call (505) 452-5200 for more information.

Bearskin State Park Trail—Minocqua, WI

Flat and accessible.

Some autumn foliage on Bearskin Trail. [Image: http://www.erikgrinde.com]

Bearskin State Park Trail boasts the best of Wisconsin’s Northwoods and journeys through an area with one of the densest concentration of lakes in the world. The trail runs for 18 miles on a fine, hard, compacted granite that should prove a winning surface for people operating a wheelchair. An encounter with this trail is a delight for outdoor enthusiasts year-round.

Call (715) 536-8773 for more information.

While these are just a few examples, it holds that diversity and mindful inclusion are what make America such a wonderful place to live, work, and play. Our state parks reflect that wonder naturally, especially as we continue to grow toward better inclusion for people of all abilities. For more information on state parks near you, check out our Pocket Ranger® apps, or for wheelchair- and otherwise ADA-accessible trails and parks, please explore the following resources:

A List of Wheelchair-Accessible Trails by State

Information on ADA-Accessibility and Trails

Fees, permits, and reservations may apply. Visitors should check with their local park or trail organizers to be sure of a pathway’s accessibility before embarking.

Related articles

Lace Up a Pair of Hi-Tec Boots and Get Ready to Explore

Hikers, campers, backpackers, and outdoors enthusiasts rejoice—we just partnered up with Hi-Tec Sports and are excited to share the news! Whether you’re looking to get down and dirty on some muddy paths or are investigating the amenities of your local state park, Hi-Tec’s V-Lite Altitude Pro Lite is what your feet have been waiting for.

V-Lite Altitude Pro Lite [Image: http://us.hi-tec.com/]

V-Lite Altitude Pro Lite [Image: http://us.hi-tec.com/]

Hi-Tec uses the revolutionary Vibram® outsoles in its boots to continue the high standard they’ve set. The soles are put through intense testing in the lab and field by diligent Vibram® Tester Team members. This leads to a reliable shoe that’s sure to last from top to bottom through any sort of outdoor activity.

An extreme resistance to water also compliments their sleek design. Water slides right off the shoes, making them the perfect companion for a rainy backpacking trip or an exploration through a damp area. These shoes are waterproofed to the point that Hi-Tec’s creators claim that the shoes simply dislike water. In fact, you might even be tempted to walk with them on water and try the fictional sport of “Liquid Mountaineering.”

Whether you prefer wet or dry terrain, you still need a pair of hiking boots with a proper fit. Hi-Tec boots are just the thing! Fortunately, Hi-Tec’s waterproof boots and comfort-inspired design drastically reduces your chances of pain or injury to your feet—like those pesky blisters that can ruin the fun of any outing. To ensure an even better hiking experience, don’t forget to lace up. The laces lock to provide a snug fit that is durable and nonrestrictive. More information about the benefits of hiking, blister avoidance, and properly fitting your boots can be found under our Hiking section when you Search by Activity in the Washington app!

A girl hiking.

[Image: http://us.hi-tec.com/]

As the summer heat fades away, we’re prepping ourselves for some serious fall and winter hiking ventures. Check out our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps to see what state parks near you will be accessible for year round exploring.

Poems for Summer

Whenever a new season comes along we like to celebrate with poems (winter and spring). If you haven’t had the time to peek out your window yet— summer is here! To liven up the first days, we invite you to read our poems for summer, and bask in the images.

Image: www.noelalva.com

Image: www.noelalva.com

Reverie in Open Air
By Rita Dove

I acknowledge my status as a stranger:
Inappropriate clothes, odd habits
Out of sync with wasp and wren.
I admit I don’t know how
To sit still or move without purpose.
I prefer books to moonlight, statuary to trees.

But this lawn has been leveled for looking,
So I kick off my sandals and walk its cool green.
Who claims we’re mere muscle and fluids?
My feet are the primitives here.
As for the rest—ah, the air now
Is a tonic of absence, bearing nothing
But news of a breeze.

Image: www. etherealplant.tumblr.com/post/118795783134

Image: www. etherealplant.tumblr.com/post/118795783134

Alice at Seventeen: Like a Blind Child
Darcy Cummings

One summer afternoon, I learned my body
like a blind child leaving a walled
school for the first time, stumbling
from cool hallways to a world
dense with scent and sound,
pines roaring in the sudden wind
like a huge chorus of insects.
I felt the damp socket of flowers,
touched weeds riding the crest
of a stony ridge, and the scrubby
ground cover on low hills.
Haystacks began to burn,
smoke rose like sheets of
translucent mica. The thick air
hummed over the stretched wires
of wheat as I lay in the overgrown field
listening to the shrieks of small rabbits
bounding beneath my skin.

My Mother on an Evening in Late Summer
Mark Strand

When the moon appears
and a few wind-stricken barns stand out
in the low-domed hills
and shine with a light
that is veiled and dust-filled
and that floats upon the fields,
my mother, with her hair in a bun,
her face in shadow, and the smoke
from her cigarette coiling close
to the faint yellow sheen of her dress,
stands near the house
and watches the seepage of late light
down through the sedges,
the last gray islands of cloud
taken from view, and the wind
ruffling the moon’s ash-colored coat
on the black bay.

Image: www.pinterest.com/pin/258957047293303545/

Image: www.pinterest.com/pin/258957047293303545/

Tropical Courtyard
Joe Bolton

It is a rage against geometry:
The spiked fans of the palmetto arcing
Like improvised brushstrokes in the light breeze;
Like shadowplay, somewhere a dog barking.

Against the height of new and old brick walls,
Confounding stone, transplanted pine and palm
Lift in imperfection, as heavy bells
That would force order fade into the calm

Of azure and a faint scent of musk.
(Is it eucalyptus or just the past?)
There’s nothing in this warm, vegetal dusk
That is not beautiful or that will last.

Celebrate the Summer Solstice at a State Park Near You

Two hands that look like they're holding the sun.

Welcome back, summer! Oh, how we’ve missed you. [Image: http://www.care2.com/]

Although the warm weather has arrived, summer hasn’t officially begun until this weekend during the summer solstice. Typically falling between June 20th and June 22nd, the summer solstice is the longest day and shortest night in the northern hemisphere (the opposite occurs simultaneously in the southern hemisphere during their winter solstice).

The summer solstice occurs when the sun’s zenith is farthest from the equator and is also known as the “estival solstice” or “midsummer.” Around the world and across many different cultures, the summer solstice has been recognized as a time to celebrate through holidays, rituals, and festivals. So what better way to welcome the warmth than heading out to a state park? Here are just three of the many state park summer solstice activities occurring this weekend.

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, Florida

A group of people in a circle in the woods holding drums.

Grab your bongos and drum in the season! [Image: http://projectavalon.net/]

A Tequesta Drum Circle will be held from 7 p.m. until midnight at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park in Florida hosted by the Moon Path Circle. The event is named to honor the Tequesta Indians, and there will be belly dancers, a gigantic bonfire, nature poems, and, of course, drums. It’s a holistic, environmentally aware way to celebrate summer and connect with the planet as it flows along its natural path.

More info: 954-564-4521

Old Stone Fort State Park, Tennessee

Sun shining through daisies.

Visit a spot that had prime views of the summer solstice sunrise. [Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/longint57/539260752]

Tennessee’s gorgeous Old Stone Fort State Park is full of exciting fishing and hiking opportunities. The main trail follows the walls of Old Stone Fort and traverses through areas that were once used as Native American ceremonial gathering places. At the original fort entrance, there was a perfect view of the spot on the horizon where the sun rises during the summer solstice. Learn about the fort through interpretive panels, check out the gorgeous waterfalls, and end your tour at one of the best spots for greeting summer.

More info: 931-723-5073

Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park, Arkansas

Toltec Mounds in Arkansas.

Tour the gorgeous Toltec Mounds and ring in the summer. [Image: http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/toltecmounds/]

Bring the whole family out to Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park in Arkansas to celebrate the summer solstice and official arrival of the season. There will be primitive-styled weapons to play around with and crafts. At 6 p.m., the park staff will explain the correlation of the mounds’ alignment with the summer solstice sunset and then provide a guided sunset tour of the mounds at 7 p.m. Ease into the summer’s inevitable heat by relaxing at the Toltec Mounds.

More info: 501-961-9442 or toltecmounds@arkansas.com

We’re thankful that the cold months are behind us for now, and we’re fully ready to soak up the sun this summer. Make sure you’ve got all your summer gear, and start making plans to head out to a state or national park near you!

Make Your Own Trails with the Chevy Colorado Z71 – Trail Boss Edition

Any of our Pocket Ranger® apps can help you find adventure, but you’ll need a rugged rig to get you there. Named Motor Trend’s 2015 Truck of the Year®, we nominate Chevy Colorado Z71 – Trail Boss Edition as that perfect ride to get you from humble abode into the great outdoors.

Chevy Colorado Z71 - Trail Boss Edition [Image: www.chevrolet.com]

Image: www.chevrolet.com

Reach any trailhead with the Chevy Colorado Z71 – Trail Boss Edition. This midsize pick-up comfortably handles the toughest trails thanks to its rugged durability, powerfully efficient 3.6L V6 engine, and Z71 Off-Road Package. No matter the weather, the trail-ready Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac® all-terrain tires keep you moving in all conditions. Best of all that Z71 Off-Road Package guarantees a smooth ride.

Chevy Colorado Z71 - Trail Boss Edition [Image: www.chevrolet.com]

Image: www.chevrolet.com

Got gear? Whether you’re a hiker, kayaker, hunter or angler, with the Chevy Colorado Z71 – Trail Boss Edition there are storage options galore for all of your outdoor gear. GearOn™ moveable cargo tie-down rings and GearOn™ cargo divider in the bed give you many ways to secure your gear. Inside the cab, the large center console provides easy storage options for your gadgets and a nonskid space for charging devices. Armed with rear vision camera, forward collision alert, lane departure warning, and OnStar Advisor, this truck pulls its weight when it comes to you and your family’s safety. Composed of high strength materials and reinforced safety cage, the Chevy Colorado Z71 series frame actually minimizes damage in the event of a collision.

Chevy Colorado Z71 - Trail Boss Edition [Image: www.chevrolet.com]

Image: www.chevrolet.com

Take the internet into the wilderness with you! Turn your Chevy Colorado Z71 into a hot spot with 4G LTE high-speed Wi-Fi connection powered by OnStar. Forgot to download a Pocket Ranger® app before you left the house? Download apps, surf the web, and stream video and music with the cab’s powerful connection that can serve up to seven devices. Four USB ports found in the cabin’s console add to ease of use. The truck’s cabin is also equipped with a top-notch Bose® sound system. Queue up the perfect soundtrack for those nights spent star-gazing from the truck bed.

Driving along New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway is a favorite during peak fall foliage season. [Image: www.motorhomeroadtrip.com]

Driving along New Hampshire’s Kancamagus Highway is a favorite during peak fall foliage season. [Image: www.motorhomeroadtrip.com]

Download the Pocket Ranger® Official Guide for New Hampshire State Parks and cruise the scenic Kancamagus Highway. While most will be stuck looking at the White Mountains from the hardtop of “the Kanc,” with your Chevy Colorado Z71 – Trail Boss Edition, you can access numerous trailheads. We recommend hiking Mount Chocorua, a steep climb with commanding views of the Presidential Mountains. Don’t want to leave your Chevy behind? Put the Chevy Colorado Z71 to the test by summiting Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast!

Alpine Lakes Wilderness [Image: www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/alpine-lakes-wilderness]

Alpine Lakes Wilderness [Image: www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/alpine-lakes-wilderness]

Or get lost in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Washington. Less than 50 miles from Seattle, you can rely on your Chevy Colorado Z71 – Trail Boss Edition to easily transition you from hip, urban sprawl to austere, alpine wilderness. The Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area is home to the glacier-carved North Cascades and part of the legendary Pacific Crest Trail. Some of the best rock-climbing opportunities in the country can be found at Cashmere Crags. Or load up the kayak or canoe and spend the day on one of the 700 mountain lakes and ponds within the area. Download the Pocket Ranger® Official Guide for Washington State Parks for advanced GPS mapping capabilities that will help you navigate your adventure.

The Nitty Gritty About Survival Kits

Survival kit essentials and backpack [Image: thenexttrailhead.com/post/45569963707/diy-first-aid-wilderness-survival-kit]

Image: thenexttrailhead.com/post/45569963707/diy-first-aid-wilderness-survival-kit

Heading into the great outdoors? In addition to your first aid kit, don’t forget to pack a survival kit! While everyone has preferences of what they like to include in their personal survival kit, here’s a list of our 11 must-haves.

1. Lighter

A small plastic lighter can make all the difference in an emergency. Also consider packing a magnesium starter or a book of matches as back-up.

2. Cell Phone

Cell phones are practically mandatory survival items these days. Just don’t forget to bring a charger. For more remote locations, a satellite phone may be necessary.

3. Iodine Tablets

In addition to bringing enough water, fill a small pill bottle with iodine tablets. Iodine tablets are perfect for survival kits because they are way easier to pack than a water filter. These tablets don’t add the best taste to water, but they will get you through those areas where drinking water isn’t readily available.

Two hikers on the trail in the evening [Image: Image: outdoorgearmadness.com/petzl-myo-rxp-review]

Image: outdoorgearmadness.com/petzl-myo-rxp-review

4. Flashlight

What you thought was a day hike turns into an overnight affair. That’s when you’re really going to need your flashlight and/or headlamp. Just don’t forget to pack extra batteries!

5. Knife

A pocket knife is good. A multi-tool knife is great.

6. Tinder

Whether you bring along some homemade fire starter or a vial of emergency tinder tablets, dry kindling will be a godsend when you’re looking to start a fire.

If your day hike turns midway into a camping trip, you'll be glad you packed a survival kit. [Image:  www.exposureguide.com/outdoor-photography-tips.htm]

If your day hike turns midway into a camping trip, you’ll be glad you packed a survival kit. [Image: www.exposureguide.com/outdoor-photography-tips.htm]

7. Energy Bar

Stash an energy bar or two into your survival kit. When the going gets rough, an energy bar will feel like a feast.

8. Compass & Maps

Even the best technology can fail, which is why bringing along a compass and map is so essential. Before hitting the trail, be sure that you are packing the most up-to-date map!

9. Waterproof Shell

Even if the forecast says sunny, pack a light, waterproof outer shell. This shell should also act as a windbreaker.

After a day like this, you'll be so glad you packed extra socks. [Image: treelinebackpacker.com/2014/08/09/backpacking-in-the-rain]

After a day like this, you’ll be so glad you packed extra socks. [Image: treelinebackpacker.com/2014/08/09/backpacking-in-the-rain]

10. Water Bottle

If you’ve got the space, bring an extra water bottle. You never know when you’ll need an extra container.

11. Extra Hiking Socks

Knowing you’ve packed a pair of dry hiking socks may be the ticket to getting you through those downtrodden moments on the trail. Thick socks can also double as mittens.

Many of these items and more can be found within our Pocket Ranger® Gear Store! Or take our 2-minute Pocket Ranger® Survey and you could win a $350 gift certificate to Backcountry.com!

Leave No Trace

How do you keep the wilderness wild when millions of outdoor enthusiasts visit state and national parks each year? The Center for Outdoor Ethics created a solution to this problem with their national educational program, Leave No Trace. The Leave No Trace program promotes and inspires good ethical practice when in the backcountry. By following these guidelines, you ensure a gratifying and lasting outdoor experience for all.

1. Plan Ahead and Prepare

Like any trip, planning before you arrive at your destination is key.

  • Acquaint yourself with park regulations. You can easily access this information through any of our free Pocket Ranger® apps.
  • Be prepared for extreme weather and emergencies. Pack a first aid kit and a survival kit that includes a flashlight with extra batteries, whistle, multi-tool pocket knife, maps, lighter, fire starters, and iodine tablets.
  • Respect the physical limits of your hiking group by planning a trip that’s compatible with the group’s skill level.
Backpacker in sunlit field [Image: sojourningabroad.wordpress.com]

Image: sojourningabroad.wordpress.com

  • Careful meal planning and packaging is so important when out in the backcountry. Pack only the food you need to minimize waste while you’re out on the trail.
  • Try to visit the outdoors in small groups. This is especially applicable to backpacking trips. If you are a larger group heading into the wilderness, break off into smaller groups to reduce impact on the environment. Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use on the trail.
  • Refrain from marking your trail with paint, cairns or flagging, and instead use a map, compass or your Pocket Ranger® app. In addition to a compass feature, the Pocket Ranger® apps offer users advanced GPS features that can even be used offline!

2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Trampling down an area’s vegetation can result in some undesirable results, such as barren areas and soil erosion. Help preserve the environment by following these tips:

  • In wilderness areas of high use, stick to established trails and campsites. Established campsites can come in a few different forms, such as raised wooden platforms, rock, gravel, dry grasses and snow. Walk single-file on trails and try to stick to the center of these trails. This prevents the trail from further eroding the surrounding landscape.
Hikers on a trail in the woods [Image: www.tripleblaze.com/blog/2013/07/14/how-to-follow-leave-no-trace-principles]

Image: www.tripleblaze.com/blog/2013/07/14/how-to-follow-leave-no-trace-principles

  • However, when camping and hiking through pristine or fragile environments, the opposite is true. Avoid making established trails or campsites by dispersing your impact on the environment. Do not camp or travel in places where impacts are just beginning to show.
  • Whether in high use or low use areas, always make sure to camp at least 200 feet from lakes and streams. This protects the waterbody and riparian areas (the land near a waterbody) from damage and contamination.

3. Dispose of Waste Properly

This principle could be the golden rule of the backcountry: Whatever you pack in, you must pack out! This includes all trash, leftover food, toilet paper (both used and unused), and hygiene products.

  • Before leaving a campsite or rest area, check around for any trash or spilled food you may have missed.
  • Solid human waste should be deposited in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep. These catholes must be at least 200 feet from water, campsite and trails. After use, cover and disguise catholes.
Always clean up after yourself when outdoors. [Image: bartramcanoetrail.blogspot.com/2013/10/people-fish-camp-trash.html]

Always clean up after yourself! [Image: bartramcanoetrail.blogspot.com/2013/10/people-fish-camp-trash.html]

  • Got dishes? Need a shower? To clean either yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lake, and use only small amounts of biodegradable soap. When finished cleaning or bathing, do not dump this dirty water back into the stream or lake! Doing so would contaminate the natural water source. Instead, strain and then scatter the water at least 200 feet (or 80 to 100 strides) from its source.

4. Leave What You Find

Look, but don’t touch! Preserve the past by leaving natural and historic structures and artifacts as they are. This ensures that other visitors to the area will have the same sense of discovery.

  • Leave rocks, plants, feathers and other natural objects just as you find them.
  • Don’t transport non-native species with you! Non-native species frequently become invasive. These invasive species can critically damage the ecosystem.
  • A good campsite is found, not made. Do not dig trenches or build structures, such as lean-tos, tables or chairs.

5. Minimize Campfire Impacts

While many believe that a roaring campfire is essential to a great camping trip, fire is not always permitted in backcountry area. Before lighting a fire, always check with park regulations.

  • If fires are allowed, use only established fire rings, fire pans or mound fires. Keep your campfire small and manageable.
  • Hold off on the huge logs! The Center for Outdoor Ethics recommends using sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
Can you spot the two campfire faux pas in this photo? [Image: lnt.org/blog/campfire-challenge]

Can you spot the campfire faux pas in this photo? [Image: lnt.org/blog/campfire-challenge]

  • Burn all the wood and coals in your campfire to ash and put out the fire completely. Then scatter the cool ashes.
  • As for cooking outdoors, use a lightweight camp stove. A lightweight camp stove (rather than a bulky camp stove) will also be a blessing for your back!

6. Respect Wildlife

It’s certainly exhilarating to come across wildlife when outdoors. For everyone’s safety and enjoyment, follow these guidelines for wildlife sightings:

  • Always observe wildlife from a distance. Never approach or follow wildlife.
  • Never feed wildlife! Feeding wildlife can make wild animals dependent on humans, creating opportunities for potentially dangerous encounters.
Black bear takes over picnic at campsite [Image: http://forum.wakarusa.com/showthread.php?11815-ARTICLE-Black-Bears-Tear-Into-Tents-at-Wakarusa]

Don’t let your favorite breakfast cereal become theirs. [Image: forum.wakarusa.com/showthread.php?11815-ARTICLE-Black-Bears-Tear-Into-Tents-at-Wakarusa]

  • Protect wildlife and your food by storing food rations and securely.
  • If you bring pets with you, make sure you have control of them at all times. In many places, leashes are required.

7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

While you may head into the backcountry to be alone in the great outdoors, chances are you may come across a few other outdoor enthusiasts.

  • Respect other visitors to the area. Be courteous and yield to other hikers on the trail.
  • Take breaks and camp away from the trails and other visitors. Avoid making loud noises or speaking in loud voices when in the backcountry. Keeping your voice low not only helps others enjoy their time in the wilderness, but also increases your chances of seeing wildlife.
  • If you encounter pack stock in the backcountry, step to the downhill side of the trail.

Any adventure in the outdoors is going to require some quality gear. By taking the Pocket Ranger® State Park Visitor Survey you could win a $350 gift certificate to Backcountry.com!