November Events Before the Snow Falls

Just because the temperatures are dropping doesn’t mean that there aren’t great outdoor November events at the state parks. From a buffalo auction to a rifle frolic, there’s plenty to do before the snow falls!

Florida

A retro, red trailer parked at a campground

Get ready to party with some Tin Can Tourists at the Vintage RV Show! [Image: www.messynessychic.com]

8th Annual Vintage RV Show
Koreshan State Historic Site
November 1, 2014

Before you winterize your RV, come out and see what RV’ing looked like years ago! At Koreshan State Historic Site’s 8th Annual Vintage RV Show, co-mingle with a thousand other RV enthusiasts and check out the wonderful and often quirky vintage RVs on display. There will also be quite a few vintage cars to check out, too. Reserve a campsite, so you can spend the weekend among fellow travelers.

Kentucky

Men dressed in period clothing carry rifles

Kentucky Riflemen [Image: parks.ky.gov]

8th Annual Tanner Station Rifle Frolic
Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park
Nov 1 & 2, 2014

We hope you’re enjoying our list of November events. Our next event takes you to Kentucky for the 8th Annual Tanner Station Rifle Frolic held at Blue Licks Battlefield State Park. This event celebrates the Kentucky flintlock rifle. In the 1780s, flintlock rifles were an essential tool used by early Kentucky settlers. This premier living history event hosts exciting, historically accurate matches that attract the best traditional flintlock shooters. High-quality prizes are awarded to winners, such as handmade knives, powder horns, and tomahawks. Many participants wear clothing that was typically worn during the Kentucky settlement period. Staff will be on hand to answer any history questions you may have. There is period camping for both vendors and participants on the grounds of Tanner’s Station. Modern camping is available at Blue Licks Battlefield State Park.

Delaware

Steamin’ Day
Auburn Heights Preserve
November 2, 2014

People ride a Stanley Steamer over a bridge

Take a ride on a Stanley Steamer [Image: northdelawhere.happeningmag.com]

Celebrating the magical age of steam, don’t miss the last Steamin’ Day of the year at Auburn Heights Preserve. Steamin’ Days features steam-powered automobiles and the world’s largest operating collection of Stanley steam cars. From the vintage popper, pick up a bag of fresh steam-popped popcorn, and watch the Firing Up Demonstration to see just how the Stanley cars are put in motion. Then, hop on for a historic ride in one of the antique automobiles. The Marshall Steam Museum offers a hands-on engine display, activities for the kids, and a working 1930s Lionel electric trains display. There are also tours of the antique-furnished Auburn Heights mansion, and rides along the Auburn Valley Railroad.

Tennessee

150th Anniversary Battle of Johnsonville
Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park and
Johnsonville State Historic Park
October 31 – November 5, 2014

Union soldier shows visitors currency

Image: press.tnvacation.com

Not just for history buffs, the Anniversary Battle of Johnsonville held at Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park  and Johnsonville State Park has something for everyone. On November 4, 1864, Confederate troops under Nathan Bedford Forrest attacked the Union supply base at Johnsonville, causing immense damage to Union artillery and transports. This Civil War battle will be commemorated with cannon fire, artillery and infantry firing demonstrations, period civilian activities, and cavalry demonstrations. The park will recreate a 19th century Halloween; near the Crockett Cemetery, experience the same storytelling and fortune-telling games the troops told and played by the campfire. Other weekend activities will include pontoon boat rides, Civil War art, and BBQ.

Georgia

Syrup Makin’ Time on the Plantation
Jarrell Plantation Historic Site
November 8, 2014

A syrup-making demonstration using an old mill

Making syrup from sugar cane [Image: jcnews.com]

In the red clay hills of Georgia, step back in time and enjoy a traditional syrup cookoff at Jarrell Plantation Historic Site. The entire process of crushing and cooking the sugar cane with a steam engine and then boiling the juice can take around six hours. Spend some of that time watching the sugaring demonstrations, and sampling the sugar juice and stalks. Stroll through the plantation, and watch as volunteers dressed in period clothing demonstrate various farm tasks, such as woodstove cooking, storytelling, crafting, and tending farm animals. Jarrell Plantation is a great example of a “middle class” Southern plantation, with many of the original buildings and artifacts of the Jarrell family still intact. Explore the historic cotton plantation houses, sawmill, gristmill, blacksmith and carpenter shops, gardens and visitor center.

South Dakota

Fall Buffalo Auction
Custer State Park
November 15, 2014

People bid on a wild buffalo in a corral--one of the greatest November events

Name your price at the Buffalo Auction [Image: gfp.sd.gov]

Looking to start your own buffalo herd? Earlier this fall, there was a rousing bison round-up at Custer State Park. Now, the park will auction off a portion of their herd, between 250 and 400 head. By auctioning off a portion of the herd to the general public, the park ensures that herd numbers are kept in balance with available rangeland forage. Funds from the auction all support the state park system. The auction includes calves, heifers, bred heifers, mature cows and bulls, and even wild burros.

Suggested Gear List:

  • Binoculars
  • Backpacks
  • Camera
  • Hats

Check out our Pocket Ranger® Gear Store for these items and much more!

Wild, Old, and Beautiful Trees

There’s nothing that nature cannot cure. Vast landscapes, rolling hills, and tall mountains soothe the mind, and bring new thoughts to the surface. What’s more exciting is discovering wild, old, and beautiful trees! If you’ve seen one, you know it’s not a sight to miss. They stand tall with their branches reaching out, their century-old roots spreading out endlessly. Some are considered rare due to age, stature, width, or just being a good-old natural wonder. Find out where these beautiful trees live, hide and reign over their kingdom.

General Sherman, Sequoia

Found within Sequoia National Park, California, General Sherman is the largest living single-stem tree in the world, measuring 274.9 feet, and believed to be around 2,500 years old.  Another similar tree is General Grantthe third largest tree in the world at 267.4 feet, found in Kings Canyon National Park, California. The name was take from Union Army general and 18th president, Ulysses S. Grant. Giant Sequoias are one the oldest living things on Earth. They are fibrous and thick at the base of the trunk, making for superior fire protection. Their leaves are evergreen, awl-shaped, and arranged spirally on the shoots.

Two people hugging General Sherman in California, a beautiful tree.

General Sherman receiving two hugs. [www.2.bp.blogspot.com]

Hyperion, Coast Redwood

Standing at 379.1 feet, Hyperion is by far the tallest tree, based on height, and found in a remote area of Redwood National and State Parks. It’s so tall, it trumps over the Statue of Liberty and England’s Big Ben clock! The tree was discovered in August 25, 2006, by naturalists Chris Atkins and Michael Taylor. If you’re dying to make the trek, know that the location is kept secret to protect the tree. Many hikers have tried, but few have seen it. The same secrecy follows the Lost Monarch, measuring 320 feet. The Lost Monarch is the largest coast redwood in volume size. It lives in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park‘s Grove of Titans among other giant redwoods, including the Screaming Titans and El Viejo Del Norte. The coast redwood has a conical crown, with horizontal to slightly drooping branches. The bark is thick, up to 1 foot, soft and fibrous, with a bright red-brown color when freshly exposed (hence the name redwood), and weathering darker. The root system is made up of shallow, wide-spreading lateral roots.

Beautiful trees of Hyperion, Coast Redwood at a distance

Hyperion, Coast Redwood [Image: www.scinotions.com]

Quinault, Western Red Cedar

The Quinault Red Cedar is the largest of its kind, measuring 174 feet tall with a diameter of 19.5 feet. It lies in the northwest shore of Lake Quinault, north of Aberdeen, Washington, at the southern edge of Olympic National Park. Though its age is not certain, some individuals live over a thousand years, with the oldest discovered to be 1,460 years. Usually trees in dense areas will have a crown on top where light is abundant, but in open areas the crown will reach the ground. The foliage consists of flat sprays with scaly leaves going in opposite pairs. When the foliage sprays are crushed, there’s a strong scent reminiscent of pineapple.

the top of the Quinault Lake Red Cedar

Quinault Lake Red Cedar [Image: www.flickr.com/photos/mallady/4477638737/]

Bennett, Western Juniper

The 8,500-foot-tall Bennett, located in Stanislaus National Forest, California is considered the oldest and largest example of a western juniper tree, possibly 3,000 to 6,000 years old. The western juniper is native to the western United States, typically reaching 50 to 70 feet. Its red, fibrous bark is similar to a coastal redwood, and the gnarled branches have lichen on top and reach out to small, shrub-like green leaves. It’s named after the naturalist Clarence Bennett, who began studying the species in the early 1890s. During his initial research from Oregon to Mexico, he mostly found 1,000-year-old tree core samplings, until a Tuolumne County rancher showed him a large western juniper. This wrinkled and knotted tree was Bennett the Western Juniper, measuring 80 feet tall. For centuries it has suffered through droughts, harsh winters, and lightning strikes, but it is still standing today. The last known measurement was taken in 1983; at that time, Bennett was 86 feet in height with a 58-foot crown spread.

A person standing next to Bennett Juniper in  California.

Bennett Western Juniper [Image: www.conifers.org]

Seven Sisters Oak

You’re not in a fairytale; this is a real tree in a place not so far away. The Seven Sisters Oak is the largest certified southern live oak tree. It’s located in Mandeville, Louisiana, and is estimated to be 1,500 years old with a trunk that measures 38 feet, a crown spread of 139 feet, and a height of 68 feet. Not that it would be hard spotting this giant beauty, but live oak trees have stiff and leathery flat leaves with shiny dark green tops and dull gray bottoms. This tree was originally named the Doby’s Seven Sisters Oak tree by one of the former owners, Carole Hendry Doby, who is one of seven sisters. Coincidentally, there are seven sets of branches leading away from the center trunk.

Seven Sister Oak in Louisiana.

Seven Sisters Oak in Louisiana [Image: www.lgcfinc.org]

The Angel Oak

This beautiful, yet eerie oak tree resides in Johns Island, South Carolina, and believed to be 400 to 1,400 years old. This is the tree of dreams and hideaways. What’s most impressive about the Angel Oak is not its height, but its wide canopy. Their limbs are heavy, almost like tree trunks; they rest on the ground. The area of shade measures 17,000 square feet. The Angel Oak is a native species found throughout the Lowcountry (Coastal Carolina). Surprisingly the name does not come from its characteristic massive, draping limbs and spreading wide canopy, but rather from the tree’s previous owners, Martha and Justin Angel.

Angel Oak on Johns Island near Charleston, South Carolina.

Angel Oak in South Carolina [Image: www.joanperry.smugmug.com]

Methuselah, Great Basin Bristlecone Pine

Methuselah is a 4,846 year-old bristlecone pine found in the White Mountains of Inyo National Forest. To put it into perspective, it germinated during the invention of writing by the Sumerians in Mesopotamia. Methuselah’s exact location is kept secret for fear of vandalism, but there’s a whole trail of ancient bristlecone pines in the White Mountains waiting for you. So, the title of the oldest known living non-clonal organism on Earth goes to Methuselah? Not just yet. In 2012, an older bristlecone pine of 5,064 years old was found in the area, and in the same fashion, its location is kept secret.

Ancient Bristlecone [Image: www.historylines.net]

Ancient Bristlecone [Image: www.historylines.net]

Pando, Quaking Aspen

Utah’s Fishlake National Forest is home to an ancient clonal colony of quaking aspen. This 105-acre colony is made up of genetically identical trees, called stems, connected by one root system, known as Pando. Pando is the heaviest and oldest living organism at approximately 80,000 years old and weighing six million kilograms! The aspens have smooth bark, mostly greenish-white to gray, and are marked by thick black horizontal scars and obvious black knots. If you see parallel vertical scars it means elk have stripped off the aspen bark using their front teeth.

Quaking Aspen in Utah [Image: [www.ravishly.com]

Quaking Aspen in Utah [Image: www.ravishly.com]

To find more rare and natural wonders, download our Pocket Ranger® mobile apps for a park near you.

The Best Halloween Scary Stories

Everybody loves a good, scary, blood-curdling Halloween story to tell around the campfire. We’ve already given you the low down on Halloween Haunted Hikes and told you where to trick or treat in state parks. Now, we’re dishing out scary tales to tell next time you’re camping out at night.

Every year, our Facebook pages or emails are flooded with urban myths and other scary stories in preparation for the upcoming holiday.Reddit asked users to post the scariest two-sentence, and, boy, were they scary. We gathered some of the best of these two-sentence scary stories users submitted.

Here are a few of our favorite scary stories!

Comparitively Sane

“You hear your mom calling you into the kitchen. As you are heading down the stairs, you hear a whisper from the closet saying, “Don’t go down there, honey, I heard it, too.”

scary stories

Image: www.dreamcatchersforabusedchildren.com

JustAnotherMuffledVo

“I begin tucking him into bed and he tells me, “Daddy, check for monsters under my bed.” I look underneath for his amusement and see him, another him, under the bed, staring back at me quivering and whispering, “Daddy, there’s somebody on my bed.”

scary stories

Image: www.rarapop.files.wordpress.com

Hangukbrian

“I always thought my cat had a staring problem – she always seemed fixated on my face. Until one day, when I realized that she was always looking just behind me.”

scary stories

Image: www.zastavki.com

Calamitosity

“She asked why I was breathing so heavily. I wasn’t.”

scary stories

Image: img2.wikia.nocookie.net

Ravn000

“It’s been watching me for hours now… Sometimes I catch glimpses of its reflection on the computer screen, but I dare not turn around…”

scary stories

Image: www.aaronwilliams.tv

namelessuser

“After so many years living alone in this large house I came to a startling revelation. In this time I had closed far more doors than I had opened.”

scary stories

Image: www.doubtfulnewscom.c.presscdn.com

madamimadamimadam

scary stories

Image: www.doubtfulnewscom.c.presscdn.com

“You get home, tired after a long day’s work and ready for a relaxing night alone. You reach for the light switch, but another hand is already there.”

Fall Hiking – The Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock

Contributed by Katie Levy, Adventure-Inspired

Autumn is my absolute favorite season. The weather is crisp, drinking hot apple cider multiple times a day is acceptable (and encouraged), and most of all, the trees, at least here on the east coast, are spectacularly beautiful. Even if you’re not a regular hiker, it’s the perfect time of year to get out and explore. Here in Pennsylvania, leaf-peeping opportunities abound. This past weekend, I made what’s become an annual autumn pilgrimage to a special section of the Appalachian Trail for some fall hiking. It’s a must-do hike if you’re a local or if you’re planning a visit to the area.

Getting There

Plugging 40.58213, -75.94299 into your GPS will get you within the general vicinity of the trailhead parking lot just next to the Hamburg water treatment plant. Follow Reservoir Road until you see a yellow gate. The parking lot will be on your left. If you’re based in Philadelphia, it’s about an hour and a half ride up to the trailhead.

The Hike

The Pinnacle/Pulpit hike is one of my favorites in Pennsylvania, and with good reason. Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle are among the most popular vistas on the Pennsylvania section of the Appalachian Trail, making them perfect spots for fall foliage viewing. Plus, all of the trails in between take hikers through dense woods full of color this time of year.

Fall hiking leads to a gorgeous mountain-view

The view from the Pulpit vista. Pretty spectacular, no? [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

There are a number of routes in the area, but the route I’ve always used is an 8.5 – 9 mile round trip loop with approximately 1,300 feet of elevation gain. From the parking lot, head beyond the yellow gate up a wide gravel road. The road bears right, and after crossing Furnace Creek on a bridge, continue along the white blazed Appalachian Trail (AT). The blazes can be hard to spot in some places; be sure to keep your eyes open for them.

A rocky climb to the summit

Can you spot the white blazes on the rocks? [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Hikers will pass a blue blazed trail on the right about two miles in, leading to Blue Rocks Campground. On a recent trip, I discovered newer, more obvious signs pointing to the campground and to Pulpit Rock, which is fantastic for folks who’ve never done the trail before.

A trail covered with leaves winds through the woods

These small, but clearly visible signs point hikers to the Pulpit and to the Blue Rocks Campground at the beginning of our route. [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

The AT climbs gradually at first, then steepens quickly, taking hikers up over large rocks to the Pulpit. It’s well worth the climb, especially in the fall. If you’re looking for a shorter hike, backtrack to return to your car. But if you’re in for the long haul, continue on along the AT. After the Pulpit vista, keep your eyes open for white blazes on the rocks; the trail is more obvious later on, but I’ve missed blazes on occasion because they’re difficult to see. From this point on, the trail is flat as it follows the ridgeline to the Pinnacle. When what I’ve affectionately dubbed the world’s largest cairn comes into view, head straight past it for the Pinnacle vista.

Given I prefer loop hikes to out-and-back hikes, I like to pick up the AT along the opposite side of the ridge to head down. After about two miles along an old road, you’ll come to a large open field. Look for a left turn on to a blue blazed trail; if you miss it, you’ll be following the AT to the end! The blue blazed trail follows a wide road all the way down to the Hamburg reservoir. Eventually, you’ll find yourself back at the Furnace Creek bridge at the start of the hike.

A scenic route winds through the fall foliage

When you’re heading down from the Pinnacle along the AT, don’t miss this left hand turn on to the blue trail, or you’ll be following the AT for a long time! [Image Credit: Katie Levy]

Things to Know Before You Go

Be sure to arrive early. This is a popular fall hiking spot and parking can be tough to come by on the weekends. On a recent trip, we arrived at 11am and my hiking partner found himself parking along Reservoir Road because the parking lot was full.

There are a number of branches of Reservoir Road and other gravel roads around the trailhead. If you’re going to follow my typical route, be sure to be sure to look out for the white blazed Appalachian Trail at the beginning. MidAtlanticHikes.com has a great set of maps available.

This hike is accessible in the winter as well, but I’d recommend YakTrax, Microspikes or crampons as well as trekking poles depending on the level of snow. In winter, the blazes painted on the rocks may be covered in snow; be sure to keep your eyes open for the trail.

Do you have a favorite fall foliage hike in your area? Have you been to Pulpit Rock or the Pinnacle? We’d love to hear from you!

Wenatchee National Forest and Windy Pass

Contributed by Michael Restivo of Mike off the Map

Hidden deep in the Wenatchee National Forest, past the devastation from an old forest fire, and inside a valley of jagged peaks, is one of the most scenic vistas in Northern Washington. The hiking here is mild, the panorama is breathtaking, and the trails are barely touched. Marmots scramble among the rocks, pristine alpine lakes dot the countryside, and massive granite walls rise next to the trail. Pitch a tent on the lakeshore; hike just a few miles above camp, and the reward is a vista over the Cascades, and a panorama of Mt. Stuart’s monumental north face. Camping in Wenatchee National Forest is as much a must-do as hiking through the Enchantments.

A pink flower blooms at Wenatchee State Forest

Image Credit: Michael Restivo

The trailhead starts just outside of Leavenworth, and swiftly rises through the bush, opening to a vast land of barren trees, ash-colored logs, and dry grass. Looking at the hillside, one can see how widespread the forest fire was. Dead branches rise far above the hills, broken, gray trunks are cut in half for the trail to run through, and the landscape is dusty, arid, and rocky. This portion doesn’t reflect the nature of the trail, but it serves as a reminder of the incredible re-growth that is taking place.

A marmot rests on a rock

Look for marmots as you hike. [Image Credit: Michael Restivo]

At the intersection of two lakes, the trail ascends through a series of rough switchbacks, quickly gaining elevation and entering a lush, northwestern pine forest, providing respite from the exposed hillside. In the background, the serrated Stuart Range rises above the hills. A glimpse of Mt. Stuart tantalizingly peeks out towards the north.

A mountainous landscape in the Wenatchee National Forest

Image Credit: Michael Restivo

The trail descends down to Upper Lake Caroline, set among tree-lined hills, forests, and a marsh, with some semi-developed campsites right on the lakeside. Wenatchee National Forest is a preserve for a wide variety of animals, such as elk, deer, bear, and one of Washington’s only packs of wolves. As our group slept, we awoke to a perfect howl piercing the night from the adjacent cliff. With proper precautions, wolves and other animals do not pose any threat to people.

Beautiful landscape with mountains, forest, and creek in Wenatchee National Forest

Image Credit: Michael Restivo

The Windy Pass switch starts just behind the campsite, ascending on a grassy hillside with the Stuart Range in full view, and continuing along a lush prairie where marmots whistle and scamper between the rocks. The splendor of the Windy Pass trail is early in the morning, when the sun is rising from behind the hills and the landscape shines in colorful late-summer and early fall hues.

A scenic vista from the summit of Windy Pass

Image Credit: Michael Restivo

Never rising above a moderate grade, the trail follows several hills, and climbs one last, steep uphill, before looking out onto the magnificent vista. Windy Pass looks out upon the North Cascades, with Glacier Peak and Baker rising on the horizon. Looking to the right, the snow-swept face of Mt. Stuart’s north side overshadows the terrain. As the second highest non-volcanic peak in the state, Stuart is a prized peak from a hikers and climber’s perspective. Its jagged architecture and steep lines are awe-inspiring.

The trail winds back through forest and fire zone, with the downhill making the return an easier and faster trip to the trailhead. For the post-hike celebration, head to Leavenworth, a nearby German-themed town for food and local beers.

A rocky summit in Wenatchee National Forest

Image Credit: Michael Restivo

When the crowds are through hiking the Enchantments, overtaking the Olympics, or invading the North Cascades, the Wenatchee National Forest is quiet, relatively untouched, and offers massive views with moderate trails. It’s an area that is quietly growing back from the ashes of the forest fire.

Hiking With Your Pets

Both you and your pets love the outdoors. So, why not hit the trail together? Trekking with animals helps you slow down, relax, and explore the outdoors in a whole new way. Here are a few companions that would happily hike to the summit with you.

Hiking with Dogs


You bring your dog for walks, so it’s an obvious next step to bring them hiking with you. Sure, your dog probably won’t care about the scenic vista at the summit, but he’ll be pysched to just spend some woodsy quality time with you. Looking to get out more pent-up puppy energy? Have your dog carry their own water and snacks in a dog pack. On those longer, tougher treks, invest in some dog booties; these reduce the potential for ripped foot pads.

Hiking with Goats

A small herd of Alpine goats make their way through the woods

A small herd of Alpine dairy goats tackle the trail [Image: willowwittranch.com]

Don’t limit your goat to the barnyard! Goats are intrepid hikers, specially suited to tackling rough terrain with gusto. The best part about hiking with goats? Other than the inevitable cute, King-of-the-Mountain moments, a goat will carry gear for you. A goat can carry 25-30% of its body weight; that translates to about 35-60 pounds of gear per goat! Consider hiking with wethers (castrated males) or, if you’re camping and would like fresh milk for your morning coffee, bring along a milking doe. Since goats are social animals, it’s best to bring more than one.

Hiking with Cats


So, you can’t expect a cat to carry things for you nor can you milk them. And not all cats are going to be cool with the idea of wearing a harness and heading out into the woods. However, there are cats (especially breeds like Bengals, Pixie-bobs, and Savannahs) that are just thirsting for the mountains and other wild places in the world. How to start hiking with your cat? First, get your cat used to walking on a leash. Do this by heading out into the backyard a few times, and just milling around together. Once comfortable with its harness, you can journey out onto the trails. Wear a sturdy framed backpack, so when your cat is tired, you can shoulder your best friend and hike on.

Hiking with Llamas

A girl walks a llama in the woods

Image: blog.timesunion.com

For hundreds of years, people of the Andes mountain range have been hiking with llamas. Llamas are surefooted, agile creatures, well-suited for rocky terrain. They are adept at browsing for food while hiking, and cause no more impact in the high country than deer. Llamas are also great guardians. On farms, they are used to protect goats and sheep, but when hiking, they guard their human friends against bears, coyotes and panthers. Planning a backpacking trip? Consider taking along a llama or two. Your back will thank you! Just like goats, llamas make great pack animals. Llamas can comfortably carry up to 25% of their body weight, so an average of 75 pounds of equipment per llama. With a llama, you can say goodbye to the days of carrying heavy stuff, like camping stove and tent!

Hiking with Pet Pigs

A pot-belly pig with a backpack on hikes in Malibu

Romeo, the pot-bellied pig enjoys jaunts in Malibu Creek State Park, CA [Image: Jessica Feldman]

While your pet pig probably won’t be tackling the AT or the PCT, leashed pet pigs would be happy to amble down a woodsy path or two with you. Adult pot-bellied pigs and micro-pigs are often sedentary and are not particularly agile, but they still need exercise. Make sure to choose reasonable trails that both of you can appreciate. If your pig is especially spunky, consider buying a larger dog pack and saddling him with water and snacks to enjoy together at the summit.

Hiking with Parrots


Why leave your parrot home when you both could be climbing to new heights in the great outdoors? Admittedly, taking a bird hiking is a bit of an endeavor, but this doesn’t mean that it won’t be awesome. Unless your feathered friends are insanely well-trained, keep your parrots wing-clipped and on a leash so you won’t lose them. If you’re not comfortable with having your bird on your shoulder, get yourself a portable bird carrier. Some models are styled like backpacks, and are perfect for hiking. You can also add a perch or two to your backpack frame.

Hiking with Donkeys

A woman hikes alongside her pack donkey

Image: www.enlightened-traveller.co.uk

Donkeys make ideal hiking companions. Donkeys are friendly, child-safe, sure-footed, and adept at carrying heavy loads. Guiding a donkey along a trail has been compared to walking a dog; it is that easy to do! Donkey trekking is popular in Europe, but can be enjoyed just as much here in the States. A donkey can comfortably carry 88 pounds, and is a great buddy to have for longer excursions. If you and your family are hiking, donkeys are perfect for carrying younger, tuckered-out kids, so that way everyone makes it to the summit and back again.

Before hitting the trails with your furry friends, be sure to check the rules and regulations at your state parks by using your state’s Pocket Ranger® app. 

Suggested Gear List:

  • Binoculars
  • Backpack
  • Camera

Check out our Pocket Ranger® Gear Store for these items and much more

Do you take your pets on hiking trips with you? We’d love to hear about your hiking adventures!

Your State’s Insect

Do you know your state’s insect? While exploring your state park, try spotting one of these insects. Once you find them, snap a photo and post it to our social media sites!

Your State’s Insect

Connecticut

Connecticut's State's insect; Green praying mantis on a green leaf

Image: animals.nationalgeographic.com

This state’s insect is the praying mantis. It’s a green or brown insect that eats aphids, flies, grasshoppers, caterpillars and moths. The praying mantis is beneficial to farmers, and it’s a symbol of stillness and patience.

Florida

A zebra longwing butterfly on a purple flower

Image: www.floridastateparks.org

The beautiful zebra longwing butterfly belongs to the state of Florida. It has long black wings with thin stripes. It makes a creaking noise when it’s alarmed. They feed on nectar and pollen, and their life span is about six months.

Kansas

Honeybees in a hive

Image: www.sciencenutshell.com

It’s the honeybee! Some of us might fear this insect, but bee pollination is crucial to plant and human survival. Honeybees live in hives of up to 80,000 individuals. Young worker bees are called house bees; they construct the hive and maintain the comb. Older workers are field bees where they gather nectar and search for pollen, water and plants.

New York

Nine-dotted red and black ladybug on a green leaf

Image: www.healthbarnusa.com

If you live in New York, your state’s insect is the amazing, nine-dotted ladybug. Ladybugs help gardeners and farmers by eating tiny insect pests that damage plants. They also eat harmful insects, such as scales, leafhoppers and mites. The nine-dotted ladybug continues to persist, but they have become very rare.

Pennsylvania

Firefly beetle lighting up on a green leaf

Image: www.thefeaturedcreature.com

The firefly beetle is Pennsylvania’s state insect. The firefly produces its light through a chemical reaction using special photic organs with very little heat given off as wasted energy. Both sexes use the flash patterns to attract members of the opposite sex.

Washington

Darner Dragonfly on a green leaf

Image: sites.google.com

The insect that belongs to this state is the green darner dragonfly. It is usually seen in the early spring through fall and it has a large body with silvery wings, compound eyes, a green thorax and a blue stripe down its back. Adult darner dragonflies catch and eat insects on the wing and they have powerful jaws that tear and chew up their prey.

Want to spot one of these creatures? Download your state’s Pocket Ranger® app to find a park nearest you. And don’t forget about your state’s mammal!

Suggested Gear List:

  • Binoculars
  • Backpacks
  • Camera
  • Insect Repellent

Check out our Pocket Ranger® Gear store for these items and much more!