More than half of the states have already proclaimed June 2019 Great Outdoors Month! Since 2008, Governors from across the country have joined the President in proclaiming this month-long celebration of America’s great outdoors. Click here for images and PDF versions of each proclamation.
“These trails mean life to me, physically and mentally,” hiker Jerry Brown says. We feel the same way. Yes, a lot of thought goes into building and maintaining trails but it’s really about how they breathe life back into you; that is the magic. And that’s our focus at Arkansas State Parks. #ARStateParks
ActiveTimes’ … The Best American Parks for Incredible Fall Colors
The clichéd old adage “it’s not about the destination, but the journey” rings especially true when it comes to train travel.
Easily the best part of traveling by train is looking out the window and staring at the passing landscapes. Whether you’re a tourist exploring a new region or a commuter getting to and from work, you can catch the country’s natural beauty aboard one of the many trains crisscrossing the United States.
From Mount Rushmore to Miami Beach, every state has awe-inspiring landscapes and beautiful landmarks to enjoy by train.
Many of the trains are in or provide very scenic views of state parks and natural areas across the country.
Cass Scenic RR, West Virginia & Mount Washinton Cog RR, New Hampshire
Find the most scenic train ride in your state according to INSIDER here
NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY
The 25th Annual National Public Lands Day is happening on September 22, 2018!
Mark September 22 on your calendar and make plans to head to your favorite outdoor spot as NEEF gets set to celebrate the 25th annual National Public Lands Day, nationally sponsored by Toyota Motor North America. No matter what is happening in the world, on National Public Lands Day, outdoor enthusiasts turn out in droves to give back to and enjoy their favorite outdoor places.
Every day, natural disasters and extreme weather, human activities, and a host of other factors take their toll on our public lands, threatening the health and wellbeing of the people and wildlife who depend on them. Public land managers, volunteers, and others who steward these special places work tirelessly to restore these areas, make them more resilient to future threats, and ensure that people and wildlife continue to enjoy them for years to come.
This enduring support and commitment to public lands year after year inspired NEEF to focus National Public Lands Day 2018 on resilience and restoration. Our natural resources are resilient, but only if we treat them right and give them the care they need. Through volunteer service on National Public Lands Day as well as grant support to local organizations, NEEF helps ensure people of all ages and abilities connect with public lands for recreation, hands-on learning, and community-building—now and in the future.
More about NEEF here
Katahdin is the Abenaki word for “greatest mountain,” and Mount Katahdin is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park, just north of the center of Maine.
Ice sculpted the Katahdin landscape. Glaciers scoured the mountains, carved deep cirques and arêtes, carved U-shaped valleys, and left tarns and moraines. It all can be seen from trails both easily accessible and very challenging.
Early 19th century climbs were mostly research based. By mid century, logging roads and camps improved accessibility. Railroads spread north to open the area more. This led to sporting camps. Hunting and fishing were part of the attraction, and visitors also came to experience the north woods wilderness.
The park is a hiker’s dream with more than 200 miles of trails traversing a wide spectrum of north woods hiking. My recent visit included two weeks of backpacking and hiking. I will focus on part of our visit.
We backpacked in the Wassataquoik Valley for four days. Our first day was 7.5 miles to Russell Pond. There are numerous stream crossings on wooden walkways, by boulder hopping and one by ford.
Whidden Pond, at 1.4 miles, has a magnificent view of the east side of Katahdin and its three cirques. As we stood admiring the mountain we heard the sound of a female moose moaning, calling for a mate.
Russell Pond is the site of an old sporting camp built in the 1920s by members of the Tracy logging family to accommodate an increased interest in people wanting to visit the north woods.
Today there are leant-tos, tent sites, a bunkhouse and a ranger station, as well as canoes for exploring the pond. Long and short hikes radiate like spokes from the campground. Moose sightings are common.
Day 2 was a leisurely 2.2 miles of backpacking to Wassataquoik Lake, a jewel set between steep mountain cliffs of South Pogy Mountain and the slopes leading to Bald Mountain. Our lean-to was on an island. A canoe comes with the reservation.
Along the lake a trail leads to Greene Falls, with water falling over a huge moss-covered rock face into a pool surrounded by moss-covered boulders.
A loon family floated by our leant-to, and later while canoeing they emerged next to our canoe. We sat silently as they began calling, a sound that many link to the north woods.
Day 3 found us camped on Wassataquoik Stream after 4 miles. We had to ford a wide, slow-moving section of the stream. This lean-to faces upstream with a mountain, including bold cliff faces, forming the backdrop. Sunset turns the stream gold, and then the sky, as the sun drops behind the mountain.
On Day 4 we returned to Roaring Brook and our car over 6 miles. Our evening visit to Sandy Stream Pond rewarded us with a moose at the first viewing area along the pond. At the next viewing spot, a large boulder with great views of Katahdin, we saw another moose and its calf stepped out from behind her. We watched them feeding on aquatic plants long after enjoying another beautiful sunset behind Katahdin.
We backpacked from Roaring Brook to Chimney Pond for 3.3 miles. Chimney Pond has lean-tos, a bunkhouse and a ranger station. The pond is part way to the top of Mount Katahdin. We stayed three nights so we could choose the day with the best weather to climb to the state’s highest peak and the northern end of the Appalachian Trail.
Summit day dawned clear, but windy. By 7 a.m. we were on the Saddle Trail. The 2.2-mile trail is the easiest trail to the top, but easiest is a relative term. The trail begins in dense conifers and soon enters an enchanting scrub birch forest.
The trail follows a rock slide out of the Great Basin. You thread your way over and around large boulders. Footing is precarious on the often shifting rock debris.
Cresting at the Tableland, a vast plateau that stretches a couple miles to the precipitous drop into the Northwest Basin, we should have been rewarded with a vast view of mountains on the west side of Katahdin. Instead we were engulfed in fog and wind, and we donned rain jackets for protection from the wind-driven mist that condensed on us.
Rock cairns marked the gradual climb over the last mile. Walking across Katahdin has always put a smile on my face. It is vast and elemental. It is mostly rock with a few alpine plants, some flowering.
Four people and a large raven welcomed us to Baxter Peak, elevation 5,267 feet, and still enveloped in fog. After a break we started across the Knife Edge. My hiking partner disappeared into the mist as it rolled up to and over the rock ridge-line that faded before us.
The Knife Edge is a narrow, spectacular 1.1-mile arête connecting the main peaks to Pamola Peak. To the east it drops 2,000 feet, sometimes vertical but always steep, to Chimney Pond. The drop is nearly as dramatic to the west.
The arête reminds me of the profile of a Stegosaurus’s back. We repeatedly ascended and descended sometimes climbing with hands and feet. At times the top was only two feet in width.
At Chimney Peak you descend into a very steep col, and then climb to Pamola Peak. Watching hikers negotiate the far side of the col can be intimidating. Once on the wall, and climbing, you find good handholds and footholds.
We ate lunch on Pamola Peak. Dudley Trail was the shortest route to Chimney Pond, but it was closed because the huge boulders that comprise the 1.3-mile trail are ripe for a landslide.
Winter normally brings a deep freeze to the mountain. Recent winters have been warmer and resulted in repeated freezing and thawing. Spring rains arrive and the solid freeze of the past is not present to keep rocks in place.
Instead we retraced our route to Baxter Peak. After an hour our patience was rewarded when the fog lifted. The Tableland, Klondike, mountains to the west — North Brother, South Brother, Coe, OJI, and Doubletop, and lakes of all sizes lay scattered across the lowlands beyond the mountains.
Our day on top was perfect. We experienced the mystery of Katahdin enshrouded, and we stayed long enough for the shroud to lift revealing the glorious view.
Katahdin is there for us to enjoy because of one man’s vision. Percival Baxter tried, from 1917 to 1925, first as a legislator and then as governor, to convince the state of Maine to acquire Katahdin. He failed, changed his focus, bought the the mountain and gave it to the people of Maine. The 6,000-acre parcel included Katahdin.
From 1930 to 1962 Baxter purchased 29 adjacent parcels of land that totaled 201,018 acres. Each parcel was deeded to a trust that holds the land “forever wild” for the people of the state of Maine.
Baxter wrote that the park is to be “… held as a great primitive recreational area … a wild mountainous country now forever set aside and held in trust … as a public park, forest reserve, and wildlife sanctuary. … Katahdin always should and must remain the wild, storm-swept, untouched-by-man region it now is … a place where nature rules and where the creatures of the forest hold undisputed dominion.”
Short hikes, day hikes to the many peaks, and backpacking are ways to enjoy BSP. There is a remarkable range of hiking, paddling and wildlife viewing opportunities that will fit an equally wide range of interests, skills and abilities.
Baxter also wanted to ensure access for ordinary people to enjoy, for “… those who love nature and are willing to walk and make an effort to get close to nature.”
Gary Thornbloom is the Co-Chair of the Public Lands Committee, PA Chapter Sierra Club; he can be reached at email@example.com
IF YOU GO
Instructor Cindy Orth teaches a group of women on how to paddle a kayak.
The moment a flame was detected, Heather Franks broke into what she referred to as her “happy dance.” Building a fire with flint and without the use of matches is cause for celebration, especially when the flame rises during a workshop at the Ohio Women’s Outdoor Adventure.
“Before I got there, I couldn’t do that to save my life, but we built a fire,” the 37-year-old from Findlay said. “Me and the gal beside me were pretty happy. We learned a new skill, and we did it in a really fun environment.”
The event took place recently at Maumee Bay State Park, and 83 women of all ages and backgrounds went through sessions on archery, fishing, backpacking, standup paddleboarding, and many other outdoors skills.
“It was all women, and it was so much fun,” Ms. Franks said. “It was a relaxed atmosphere where we could face new challenges and try our luck at a bunch of different outdoor activities.”
Valerie Cox from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said the outdoors for women workshops have been very successful and wildly popular. In the three years the program has been in operation, 250 women have taken part. Registration for this year’s program was full in less than 24 hours.
“It’s an opportunity to meet other women with similar interests and then share the experience with them,” Ms. Franks said. “A lot of my friends don’t have the same interest as I do in these outdoors activities, but this brought women who enjoy the outdoors together.”
Jennifer Warnement of Perrysburg got connected with the OWOA event at Maumee Bay through her sister.
“Growing up, we were always doing things outdoors. We loved being around the water and hiking, and we still love those things, so this day of outdoors adventures was ideal for us,” she said. Ms. Warnement, 41, took part in the kayaking, standup paddleboarding, and archery and also learned how to make maple syrup.
“It is just a better learning environment when it is all women, and that is definitely one of the reasons I went,” she said. “When it’s all women, everyone is a little more relaxed and it’s a better situation for bonding, I believe. I was new to the kayaking and paddleboarding, and those turned out to be a lot of fun.”
Ms. Warnement said she had not picked up a bow since attending 4-H camp as a kid, but she shot both a compound bow and a crossbow in the archery workshop. While she does not expect to shoot much on her own, she has been kayaking a couple of times since the event, testing her recently acquired skills.
“The instructors were all awesome — very patient and very thorough with us — and I think that makes it much easier to pick up something new,” she said. “There is a lot to learn, but I loved it. If I go again, I want to try the power boat course and the personal watercraft (jet ski) sessions.”
Ms. Franks said the sailing and paddleboarding workshops introduced her to outdoors skills that she might previously had been hesitant to pick up.
“I’ve had this weird fear of water all my life, and to actually get out there and do those things was awesome,” she said. “I told my husband I want a Hobie Cat (sailboat) and a paddleboard for Christmas. But he said I’ll have to pick just one of those.”
Indiana Governor and Capital Campout host Mike Pence is now the Republican Vice Presidential Candidate! In June 2016, Governor Pence hosted his second Capital Campout for Indiana youth in Indianapolis at Fort Harrison State Park. He took the campers on a “Hike with Mike” to celebrate Indiana’s trail system. To see photos and how other Governors celebrated Great Outdoors Month 2016, visit: http://www.greatoutdoorsmonth.org/#!capital-campouts/cb41
A very interesting summer interpretive program happening in Washington!
Events take place in seven state parks and nearby communities
OLYMPIA – June 3, 2016– The New Old Time Chautauqua (NOTC), America’s only traveling or circuit Chautauqua, is joining forces with Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission for a 2016 summer tour of seven state parks and nearby communities.Chautauquas were based on the idea that learning continued throughout life. The Chautauqua Movement began in 1874, bringing a mix of education and entertainment to communities throughout the nation. When a Chautauqua came to town, all normal activity stopped as citizens dedicated a week of their lives to learn, be entertained and join with their community.
“The idea of the Chautauqua-Parks partnership is to renew ties and to foster goodwill between the towns and their local state parks,” said Paul Magid, founding member of the NOTC and The Flying Karamazov Brothers. “Chautauquas and Washington Parks share common goals: to promote community through education and experience by being a catalyst for cultural and creative exchange surrounded by the beauty of nature.”
“Chautauquas were always held in an idyllic setting—among the trees, by a shore, or in a park—which is why this partnership is such a natural fit,” said Debbie Fant, Coordinator for the State Parks Folk & Traditional Arts Program. “And each park on the tour can tell its own story in workshops led by local experts.”
Each Chautauqua takes place over several days, with events occurring one day in the nearby town and another day in the state park. Each Chautauqua includes entertaining and educational workshops in parks and towns, a community potluck in each state park, live music, speakers and a grand parade—community participation encouraged—through the town. Each Chautauqua comes to a close with a family-friendly finale featuring Broadway stars, a big band, aerialists, comedians, jugglers and more.