Tag Archives: Post Grape-Nuts Fit

Hiking Snacks for Kids: 5 Great Recipes

A lot of these hiking snacks for kids are things that are totally buyable in stores. But if you’re feeling adventurous and you want to add a personal touch to your child’s early hiking experiences, check out these recipes.

Wellness Bars

Courtesy of Wellness Mama

Hiking Snacks

Image: www.wellnessmama.com/1047/wellness-bars/

Granola bars or energy bars are always a staple for some quick energy turnaround. Highly portable and not too messy, these options are also great for children with dietary restrictions.

One of the pros to making your own energy bars is YOU control all the ingredients! You can be sure your kids are eating something healthy that’s free of preservatives and other artificial ingredients.

Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup nuts (cashews, almonds, etc) Reminder: peanuts are not nuts!
  • ¼ cup whole dates (remove pits)-about 3 large dates
  • ¼ cup raisins (or more dates)
  • dash of cinnamon (optional)

Instructions

  1. Put nuts into food processor (or Vitamix) and chop to small pieces. Remove and put in bowl.
  2. Put dates and raisins (any combination of the two that equals ½ cup total) into the food processor and pulse until playdough consistency. It will start to clump together when it is done.
  3. Mix the two ingredients by hand until well incorporated and you have the consistency of stiff playdough or cookie dough. (You can do this all in the food processor also.)
  4. Roll between two sheets of wax paper to a ½ inch thickness and cut into bars. (Or make it really easy and just roll into energy balls!)
  5. Wrap in wax paper, plastic wrap or snack size ziploc bags (or glass containers if you aren’t giving to kids) and store in fridge until ready to use.
  6. Enjoy!

Frozen Banana Protein Smoothies To Go

Courtesy of Rhythm of the Home

Hiking Snacks

Image: www.rhythmofthehome.com/2013/05/recipes-for-easy-hiking-snacks/

The double benefit of these smoothies is that they are a great way to have a cool down break in the warmer weather! Heather Fontenot from rhythm of the home uses freezer jars like these that are BPA-free. You can keep them in the freezer and pack them as you head out for your hike. You’ll be glad you have them as a treat!

Ingredients

  • 2 bananas (we freeze our bananas to keep for smoothies, but frozen or not are fine)
  • 3 cups milk (we use almond)
  • 2 tbsp cocoa nibs
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/3 cup dates (pits removed)
  • 1 tbsp ground chia
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup raw almond butter

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients into a high powered blender, such as a Vitamix, and process until smooth and creamy.
  2. Pour into freezable containers, and allow to set over night.
  3. In the morning, simply throw into a lunchbox or hiking pack, and enjoy whenever you need a cold break.

Homemade Fruit Leather Recipe

Courtesy of Penniless Parenting

Hiking Snacks

Image: www.pennilessparenting.com/2012/06/homemade-fruit-leather-recipe.html

Fruit leather is good for a quick snack option on the trail. Penny points out that the best part about making your own fruit leather is using natural ingredients and avoiding the preservatives and added sugar in the store brand (of course buying them is also convenient). Even without all the excess sugar, it’s a treat your kids are sure to love!

This example uses apricots but you can use almost any fruit like plums, pears, strawberriesk bananask and cherries.

Ingredients

  • Fruit (fresh, or canned and strained, raw or cooked)

Directions

Hiking Snacks

Image: www.pennilessparenting.com/2012/06/homemade-fruit-leather-recipe.html

  1. Cut off all the blemishes from your fruit.
  2. Blend the fruit in a blender or food processor until relatively smooth. Small chunks are ok.
  3. Line a baking tray with baking paper, then smooth the blended fruit onto the tray. You should probably use more than pictured [above]- this is too little and makes a thinner, cracklier fruit leather instead of a very pliable.
  4. Put in the oven on the lowest temperature setting possible, and prop open the door a drop (less than a centimeter) to allow moisture to escape.
  5. Check on the fruit every so often, and remove from the oven when it’s dry. Be careful not to keep it in too long or it will burn and/or dry out too much. I found this needed between 2 and 4 hours, depending on how thick I piled it on the baking paper.
  6. Peel the baking paper off the fruit leather, and cut into strips.

Strawberry Almond Energy Bites

Courtesy of Rhythm of the Home

Hiking Snacks

Image: www.rhythmofthehome.com/2013/05/recipes-for-easy-hiking-snacks/

Sometimes you just need a bit of something delicious to keep you going on your hike. These Strawberry Almond Energy Bites from rhythm of the home are convenient to make ahead of time and you can keep them in the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 6 dates
  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • 1/4 sunflower seeds
  • 2 T almond butter
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup dried strawberries – diced

Directions

  1. Process the almonds in a food processor until chopped.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients through the almond butter, and process until finely combined. Add the diced dried strawberries, and process only until incorporated.
  3. Roll into balls and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 8.

Blueberry Sunflower Energy Bites

Courtesy of Spabettie

Hiking Snacks

Image: www.spabettie.com/2013/04/15/blueberry-sunflower-energy-bites/

Here’s a similar idea to the previous recipe, in the convenience of ball form but changing up the ingredients with blueberries. These are dairy, soy, and gluten free.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 6 Medjool dates, pitted
  • 3/4 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon spirulina powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch sea salt
  • sesame seeds, for coating

Directions

  1. Place cashews in food processor, pulse to a small crumb.
  2. Add dates and blueberries, pulse to combine.
  3. Add sunflower butter, spirulina powder, cinnamon and salt, combine.
  4. Roll into 1 inch balls, coat in sesame seeds. Makes 13-14 pieces.

Fun Snack Bags for Kids

Hiking Snacks

Image: http://www.etsy.com/listing/103970256/reusable-snack-bag-eco-friendly-snack?ref=shop_home_active_1

Here are some great reusable (and therefore eco-friendly!) sandwich bags for your kids! These are handmade with some fun prints and durable ripstop lining inside. They are machine washable and dryer safe.

Feel free to share any ideas about kids snacks that are fun to make and perfect for hiking!

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]

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!

Spotlight: Ohiopyle State Park

We may be hikers, fishermen, and climbers, but sometimes, we moonlight as poets. (In the nature-inspired vein of Thoreau and Whitman!) And, today, friends, we’ve found ourselves a poem that is a state park. (And no, we’re not being metaphorical! The state park we’ve chosen to virtually tour this week is ACTUALLY a poem! In that it ALMOST rhymes! Whoever came up with the name was a poet, and he didn’t even know it!)

(Okay, we know that not all poems rhyme. But just go with it, alright?!)

Alright. So, you’re probably wondering what this poetic state park is. Drumroll, please! (Did you drum? Didn’t hear you. Oh well.) This poem of a park’s name is Ohiopyle State Park, located in none other than Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania.

Besides for being a poem of a park, Ohiopyle literally has more things to do than we’ve maybe ever seen in a state park. It’s almost exhausting to even think about, which is pretty spectacular. So, naturally, you’ll need a tour guide to wade through your options. And it’s lucky that you have one! On your Pocket Ranger® app! When you download the free PA State Parks app! And join the Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge! And win lots of cool prizes just for playing a fun game and checking out state parks! And now we’re going to stop up-talking and guide you through the best that Ohiopyle has to offer (in our own humble opinions.)

Whitewater Boating

If you’re in the mood to say a word five times fast, we don’t suggest using this one: Youghiogheny. The Youghiogheny River Gorge is a main attraction for the park, and “provides some of the best whitewater boating in the eastern United States”, according to the park’s website. There are tons of class III and IV rapids – and if that means nothing to you, you should probably avoid tackling them. There are class I and II rapids at the Middle Yough, which makes for great beginner whitewater kayakers or experienced canoeists. It’s also a perfect place for families, because there are exciting rapids at normal river levels. Before you grab your boat and paddles, just know that inexperienced boaters should not attempt this river without qualified guides. For more information about whitewater boating at Ohiopyle, see here.

whitewater boating at Ohiopyle

Image: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Fishing

After hitting the rapids, you might want to stick with an aquatic theme. If that’s the case, stick to the Youghiogheny, because there’s great trout fishing – the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stocks fingerling trout throughout the entire river within the park. Be sure to check the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Web site for specific regulations!

Ohiopyle State Park Fishing

Image: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Waterslides

Seriously, this place is like a waterpark! If you head to Meadow Run, you can sit in the creek bed and ride the water through two natural waterslides.

Hiking

If you’re thinking it’s time to head towards land, we’re on the same wavelength. Luckily, Ohiopyle has 79 miles of hiking trails! Since the park is nestled in the Laurel Highlands, there is a ton of beautiful scenery. One of these trails happens to be the Jonathan Run Trail, a 1.7 mile, easy hiking course. Along the way, you’ll spot some small waterfalls, including the Jonathan Run Falls. Make sure to head this way, because checking out the Jonathan Run Falls will earn you points on your GeoChallenge!

Orange Sky

Image: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Can you believe we’re not even close to being done with listing all of the features of Ohiopyle State Park? Because it’s true. But we must forge on!

Biking

Ohiopyle is home to part of the Great Allegheny Passage, which is one of America’s best bike trails. There are 27 miles of bike trail in the park, which, interestingly enough, used to be the rail bed for the Western Maryland Railroad. The trail’s great for all ages and abilities, and you can rent bikes at the park. Additionally, it’s a biking-only trail; motorized vehicles and equestrians are not welcome. There are also 25.2 miles of mountain biking trails, including the Sugarloaf Trail System and Jonathan Run Trail.

We can’t even list them; that’s how much more there is!

You can horseback ride on 11.6 miles of trails that are shared-use, so be sure to check for hikers and such. You can rock climb whether you’re a beginner and top-roping or into sport routes. Over 18,000 acres of the park are open to hunting, trapping, and dog training.

In the winter, be sure to cross-country ski, sled, and snowmobile. Accommodation-wise, there’s tons of camping opportunities, including yurts! And of course, you’ll need to eat, so there are picnic areas equipped with picnic tables, grills, restrooms, and charcoal disposal areas. There are some scenic picnic areas, like the Tharp Knob Picnic Area, that’s next to the Tharp Knob Overlook. You’ll have a great view of the Youghiogheny River Gorge and the town of Ohiopyle. Plus, there’s a playground, volleyball court, and large ball field.

Image: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Image: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

Wow. We tried to get the basics in there, so for specifics, please head to http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/ohiopyle/ or your Pocket Ranger® app! Happy GeoChallenging!

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!

Pocahontas State Park (Or The Best Virtual Tour You’ll Read Today.)

If you’ve ever wanted to live inside a Disney movie, you should head to Pocahontas State Park.

Okay, fine. We’re not exactly being serious. But we’re also not exactly crazy. How do we figure? Why, because our fair destination on this weekly virtual tour is named after Pocahontas, of course! You know, the famous daughter of Chief Powatan, who ruled over the Native American tribes in the Powhatan Confederacy of the Algonquin Nation. Who befriended John Smith. And later became a Disney character. While painting with all the colors of the wind.

How's THAT for painting with all the colors of the wind (lake)? [Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation]

How’s THAT for painting with all the colors of the wind (lake)?
[Image: Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation]

Now that we’ve brushed up on our Virginia history, we can start this post for real. As you may have guessed, Pocahontas State Part is in Virginia! (It’s in Chesterfield, Virginia, to be exact.) And if you’ve really been paying attention, you might have also realized that Pocahontas State Park is none other than one of the parks participating in our Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge. We don’t want to insult your intelligence by saying this, but just as a reminder for all those new readers, this challenge is basically an outdoor scavenger hunt you can play using your Pocket Ranger® app. So, now we will tell you a little bit about what you might find during this game. Get ready, get set, and go!

Aquatic Recreation Center

Perfect for kids, (or the inner kid in you) the park’s Aquatic Recreation center is open from 10am to 7pm from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There are several pools with varying depths, two 15-foot high waterslides, a snack bar, and locker rooms, complete with showers. We highly recommend camping at the park overnight; registered guests get to enjoy a day of free swimming for each night they camp! Group cabin and lodge guests aren’t eligible for free swimming, but they can receive discounted prices. For more information, see this.

Looks like the Aquatic Recreation Center and this kid are getting along swimmingly. [Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation]

Looks like the Aquatic Recreation Center and this kid are getting along swimmingly.
[Image: Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation]

Trails

Let’s talk Forest Exploration Trail, to be specific. Why, you ask? Because it’s one of the stops you’ll have to make on your GeoChallenge! Anyway, the Forest Exploration Trail is a loop for hikers and bikers. Gallivant along it, and you’ll be led on a journey through the woods, past the Swift Creek Lake, and see some wandering wildlife, including beavers, snakes, and red-tailed hawks.

In addition to hiking and biking, there are also horse trails (no horse rentals, but you can bring your own!) and the paved Spillway Trail for visitors with disabilities. Trails vary in difficulty, so there’s something for everyone!

Lots of scenic views in this park, ey? [Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation]

Lots of scenic views in this park, ey?
[Image: Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation]

Park Programs

It’s got swimming, it’s got hiking, biking, and horseback riding, and it’s also got educational opportunities! That’s right – you may be visiting Pocahontas on a school vacation, but that doesn’t mean the learning has to be out of session. Throughout the year, the park has guided nature hikes, campfire programs, family and children’s programs, and night hikes. There’s also the Pocahontas State Park Junior Ranger Activity Book, which includes self-guided activities to help you and your kids discover the park’s plants and animals and learn about Virginia’s Piedmont region. The park even describes itself as “the perfect outdoor classroom for students of all ages” so “its staff provides outreach and onsite programs that are available on request”, like environmental education field trips for private groups, like Boy Scouts, youth groups, etc. For more information, contact Krista Weatherford at krista.weatherford@dcr.virginia.gov or 804-796-4472.

Additionally, we give you (well, not we. More so the park. But you get the picture) “Pocahontas Premieres”, a summer concert series hosted in the park’s very cool amphitheatre. Check out the schedule of (sometimes free) symphonies, Eagles and Zeppelin cover bands, and bluegrass here.

Civilian Conservation Corps Museum

If you thought we were done with the cultural part of this piece, you were wrong. Next up on the tour is the CCC Museum, an original CCC building that holds photographs and artifacts commemorating the Civilian Conservation Corps members who helped to protect and transform land all over the country. Many Corps members helped to develop state parks – the land that eventually became Pocahontas State Park is one of them. These men that served in the CCC were young, between 18 and 25, unmarried, and very much Depression-Era poor. Their stories are interesting and their accomplishments inspiring.

What else?

There's a dog in that kayak! You can bring dogs in your kayak! [Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation]

There’s a dog in that kayak! You can bring dogs in your kayak!
[Image: Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation]

Fishing, boating, camping, hunting? You got it! During the daylight hours, you can fish at Swift Creek and Beaver Lake. Private boats can be used on Swift Creek Lake, but only electric motors are allowed. You can also rent canoes, kayaks, and rowboats from Memorial Day through Labor Day!

There are also various campsite options, like cabins, electric and water hookups, and buddy sites (for a max of 18 people) that are electric and water group sites for people who are using tents.

And finally, hunting is allowed in certain areas during designated hunting seasons. Each year, the park holds reservation hunts for deer herd management. Click here for more information, and/or contact the park at (804) 796-4255 for details.

So pack your bags and venture on! Pocahontas State Park, (and Post Grape-Nuts Fit “What’s Your Mountain?” Challenge fame) await!

Don't they look like they're having the best time? This could be you, guys. [Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation]

Don’t they look like they’re having the best time? This could be you, guys. This could be you.
[Image: Virginia Department of Conservation & Recreation]