Tag Archives: outdoor adventures

Four State Parks Where You Can Enjoy the Legacy of the CCC

Grand Teton grandeur.

CCC enrollees take in a dazzling view: A future instilled with hope. [Image: www.nps.gov]

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March of 1933, the country was in the depths of the Great Depression and faced a workforce unemployment rate of nearly 25%. In almost the same breath as his inauguration oath, FDR began presenting programs to Congress and implementing his vision for the New Deal, which promised to help the investors devastated by the Wall Street Crash of 1929, windblown Dust Bowl farmers, and the American people at large to reclaim some of the high spirits and prosperity that had characterized life just a decade earlier.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was one such program, and ran from 1933 until its funding and manpower were diverted to the American WWII effort, in 1942. The CCC was run in part by the U.S. Army, and as such was playfully dubbed “Roosevelt’s Tree Army.” In truth, the CCC was perhaps, not-so-secretly, Roosevelt’s favorite program and it became hugely popular with the general citizenry. In its nine years, the CCC would train and employ some three million American men between the ages of 17 and 28 who were put to work across the United States building infrastructure and establishing, amongst other things, what is now our fantastic and beautiful network of state and national parks. Below is a list of parks still touched by this bright legacy that park-goers can enjoy today.

Longhorn Cavern State Park Burnet, TX

Not only are there amazing rock formations and a stunning natural bridge at this state park, but all of the park’s features and experiences have been highlighted by the careful planning of CCC engineers and carried out dutifully by the corpsmen. The CCC cleaned out the main cavern in 1937, which entailed manually removing debris and guano from its base and tunnels. The workers then built a winsome stairway and installed lighting along a couple of miles of the underground passageways. The experience at this park would not be as enthralling were it not for the clever resourcefulness and dedication of the men of the CCC.

Rugged, yet elegant.

These charming CCC-built structures at Longhorn Cavern work in harmony with the area’s existing natural features. [Image: http://tpwd.texas.gov]

Guernsey State Park Guernsey, WY

This park is one of the best examples of extant CCC construction around. It features many trails, roads, structures, buildings, and even the remnants of a CCC-designed 9-hole golf course, which was abandoned in the 1940s. Perhaps best of all, in addition to the elegant and rugged CCC architecture and facilities, visitors to the park can also gain ten points in the Pocket Ranger® Park Passport GeoChallenge through April 2016.

Still rugged, yet elegant.

At Geurnsey State Park we find another CCC-built structure, handsomely constructed by and with the area’s natural elements. [Image: www.wyohistory.org]

Koke’e State Park Waimea, Kaua’i, HI

The reach of the CCC even extends across the Pacific to the island state of Hawai’i. At Koke’e State Park, the CCC’s compound was built and in use by 1935 and is still a functional park of the park’s experience today. 

Tishomingo State Park Tishomingo, MS

The CCC’s presence is still quite present at Tishomingo State Park. Several of the park features are named for the CCC companies that established the majority of the park’s gorgeous facilities in northeastern Mississippi. Among them are trails, a pond, a “swinging bridge,” several pavilions, and the remnants of the camp the corpsmen used through their tenure at the park. As a bonus for history or pre-history buffs, there are Paleoindian artifacts from as long ago as 7000 B.C.E. as well as rock formations that give the park an air of the ancient.

An American flag flies brightly over an early CCC camp

An American flag flies brightly over an early CCC camp in Grand Teton National Park. [Image: http://www.nps.gov]

Nearly 80 years later, the importance and lasting impact of the program cannot be overstated. While the CCC was in its heyday, approximately three billion trees were planted. Over 200 million of those were planted in the areas hit hardest by drought and windstorms in the Midwest. In just the first year of those trees’ presence, the amount of the rich soil being blown away reduced immensely. In addition to the trees, educational programs were offered regarding soil erosion and animal husbandry that, along with the end of the drought, helped the farmers and their families establish their livelihoods again—and keep them. Modern wildfire fighting and wildfire prevention also have roots in the program, and today’s land and wildlife management owes much to the men who built roads, blazed trails, planted forests, dug ditches and canals, and generally made headway for the many and varied ways we enjoy the natural splendor of our country today—including Pocket Ranger® apps!

Outdoor Adventures this Fall Season

Fall is finally here! The leaves are once again changing to vibrant colors, sleeveless shirts and shorts are getting replaced for long sleeves and sweaters, and seasonal fall treats are once again in favor. However, with the changing season comes the drop of temperature. While some of us may believe that we have to bid farewell to outdoor adventures along with summer, that isn’t necessarily the case! Here are some outdoor adventures you could have this fall season.

Fishing

Fishing is at its prime during this season—fish such as salmon, smallmouth, and walleye are popular catches. Of course, at times, fall does have its rough days where it is difficult to catch any fish; in which case, anglers can rise to the challenge and find innovative ways of catching by using other tools, such as rocks. Be sure to check out the right times and regulations in regards to each fish!

English: Smallmouth Bass Fishing in the Fall

Man fishing small-mouth bass in the fall. [Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/]

Hunting

Hunting is also at its peak this season. Depending on your state, you may be able to hunt antelope, bear, foxes, white-tailed deer, bear, and various game birds. Youth hunting is also available for children ages 12-15 so that they can spend some time in the field and learn the necessary skills for becoming safe and responsible members of the hunting community.

English: White-tailed deer

White-tailed deer. [Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/]

State Park Adventure

Before the state parks are touched by a crisp winter frost, you can take advantage of a plethora of exploratory adventures that can be done within the many parks in your state! Enjoy the weather with its cooler air while observing the myriad of wildlife activity in the area.

Hiking

Trek with friends, family, or go out by yourself for some much needed alone time. Hiking not only improves fitness and health, but also gives you the chance to conquer nature by hiking through trails this fall. Witness the changing foliage on the way, admire tall, noble trees, listen to the sounds of birds, or simply appreciate nature in its entirety.

English: Wikipedia:Heilbronn, hike tour

Group of friends hiking in the fall. [Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/]

Camping

Relish the weather by camping in the woods this fall. Enjoy your coffee or seasonal autumnal foods, such as pumpkin pies while enjoying nature. Share stories around the heat of a bonfire, and witness the innate beauty of the stars at night in the campgrounds. Don’t forget to bring insect repellent and to keep yourself warm and comfortable with the appropriate season attire!

Car Camping at Hunting Island State Park, Sout...

Camping outdoors with a car. [Image: https://commons.wikimedia.org/]

This coming season, don’t let the weather stop your adventurous spirit—go out, explore, and conquer the outdoors! Enjoy the beauty of nature away from the electric buzz of the city and the daily grind of everyday life. And with the Pocket Ranger® app in your pocket, you’ll always be up to date with the latest news on the outdoors. And remember, you can always share your adventures with us!

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.

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