Hitting the Trail

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

……….

Gettysburg National Military Park (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania)

This week we welcome Jessica, who is sharing an often over looked and more intimate view of Gettysburg National Military Park, where she hikes often with her family. 

DSCN5331

DSCN5918_DSC3190DSCN1193_DSC3548_DSC3665DSCN5890_DSC3091DSCN6042DSCN3472Round Tops Trail020

Some Things to Know About Gettysburg National Military Park

Location: Gettysburg National Military Park, site of the American Civil War Battle of Gettysburg

Habitat: 5,989 acres of mature and maturing woodlands, agricultural fields, pastures and meadows

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: According to the National Parks website, Gettysburg National Military Park boasts 187 bird, 34 mammal, 17 reptile and 15 amphibian species documented to date. And, floral inventories have recorded 553 species of vascular plants, of which 410 are native.

We have seen white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits, black snakes, red efts, five-lined skinks and numerous bird species. We have also experienced a pair of black vultures perched on Big Round Top as well as the breathtaking butterfly display during ‘honeysuckle season.’

Special Features: The NPS reports over 2,300 acres of the park’s landscape are planted in crops, pasture, or meadows providing the visitor with a glimpse of the local agrarian lifestyle. Over 1,600 acres of woodlots and forested habitat comprise several successional communities, from mature oak/hickory to early scrub-shrub. Wetlands dot the landscape roughly totaling 148 acres of palustrine wetland and over 26 miles of associated riparian habitat.
We consider the area around Little Round Top and Devil’s Den our stomping ground. The huge rock formations and granite outcroppings of Devil’s Den provide serious climbing fun while also providing us with an occasional skink-sighting. A quick hop, skip and a jump across Sickles Avenue and we can spot lots of frogs, turtles and occasionally a water snake in Plum Run. We enjoy exploring the grassy meadow across from Devil’s Den as well as the forest habitat leading from the bottom of Little Round Top all the way up Big Round Top Hill. In the woodland area we’ve found a Luna Moth at rest, the crazy cool Giant Leopard Moth, too. There are dozens of neat fungi species to see, including my favorite discovery, Astraeus hygrometricus, more commonly known as earthstars.

Best Time to Visit: Gettysburg National Military Park is a great destination for nature lovers year-round. Obviously the park can become a bit crowded during the summer (especially during the July 1st-3rd anniversary), but we’ve found the hiking trails are much less-traveled. Fireflies put on a spectacular show in June, while the fall foliage is breathtaking in October and November. During any season and in virtually any weather, the battlefield and surrounding landscape is not to be missed!

Thank you for sharing with us, Jessica!

{ 4 comments }

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

……….

Huishinish Point, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides (Scotland)

This week we welcome back Lisa, who took a beautiful trip with her family to a gorgeous area in Scotland. This wonderfully diverse region treated them to a variety of sea jellies, beetles, diving gannets, stunning views, and so much more. 

6 August 2014 301

6 August 2014 308

6 August 2014 314

6 August 2014 316

6 August 2014 318

6 August 2014 319

6 August 2014 332

6 August 2014 321

6 August 2014 344

6 August 2014 349

6 August 2014 3626 August 2014 356

Some interesting things to know:

Location: Huishinish Point, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Habitat: Beach, upland hills, hill loch and machair—one of the world’s rarest habitats, only to be found in the far northwest of Ireland and the northwestern Isles of Scotland. (Click here to learn more about the machair habitat.)

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: When we visited, blooms of several kinds of jellyfish decorated the sea waters. We found quite a few species of beetle in the machair, including a Scavenger Beetle. But our favourite was watching the gannets dive into the water at speeds of up to 70 mph as they fished in the waters between Huishinish and the island of Scarp.

Special Features: To access Huishinish, it’s a long and winding drive through some of Scotland’s most rugged and unspoilt countryside. En route, look out for the short, flat hike to the Eagle Observatory to spot some Golden Eagles, or just to take in the stunning scenery.
Once at Huishinish, keep an eye out for basking sharks, gannets, terns and other sea birds. Take a short circular hike around the point to the loch and find yourselves on a deserted beach, where the only footprints are made by sheep (please note that the path hugs a hillside and may be unsafe for very young or unsteady hikers). You’re likely to see broken down stone croft houses—a reminder of the Highland Clearances. And this year we were lucky enough to witness the local farmers shearing their sheep—using traditional hand shears.

Best time to visit: If you expect the weather to be changeable, you’ll never be disappointed in Scotland. Bring waterproofs and sun hats, midge spray and sun cream. Anytime is a good time to visit the Outer Hebrides, but to enjoy the wildflowers in the machair and good clear views, go in early to mid-summer.

 

Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your amazing trip with us!

{ 4 comments }

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

……….

Carter Notch Hut (White Mountains, New Hampshire)

Tucked in among the tree lined passes and hidden lakes of the White Mountains, the Appalachian Mountain Club maintains a group of huts, available for overnight stays by hikers who walk the backcountry trail leading to them. The Carter Notch Hut sits at the end of a 3.8 mile hike in, a beautiful trail covered in large rocks that make it easier for kids to walk than some of the other neighboring hikes. The huts make for a great solution for families wanting to introduce their kids to backpacking without the added work of bringing along a tent or cooking all three meals each day.

carter notch 4

carter notch 6

carter notch 5

 

carter notch 3

carter notch 7

carter notch 2

carter notch 1

Some Interesting Things to Know about Carter Notch Hut

Location: The White Mountains of New Hampshire, along a section of the Appalachian Trail.

Habitat: The trail to the hut, as well as the area around Carter Notch, is characterized by densely forested streams and rocky trails that lead up the various peaks of the White Mountains. The nearest to the Carter Notch hut is Wildcat A, about a mile or so from the hut itself.

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: This area is teeming with the good stuff! From bears to bugs, there is some of everything worth looking for. Chipmunks, various beetles, and toads were the most common creatures on seen on our recent weekend trip. Also worth noting is the pond just at the end of the trail that brings hikers to the hut; it is full of spatterdock, a type of yellow waterlily that is incredibly interesting and beautiful.

Special Features: One of the greatest things about hiking anywhere on the Appalachian Trail is watching the through hikers (people starting the trail in Georgia and hiking all the way to Maine) come by. Interesting and inspirational, seeing such dedicated lovers of the outdoors is great exposure for kids, and the camaraderie that develops among hikers doing any portion of the A.T. is pretty great too.

Best Time to Visit: The hut is actually open year round, but the winter months don’t offer the perks of the summer season. During the summer months, the hut is full service, and the “croo” there makes both breakfast and dinner for the campers each day. The hut offers bunk beds for snoozing in after your day of hiking as well.

Website: http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/huts/

{ 0 comments }

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

……….

Cleveland Beach Provincial Park (Nova Scotia, Canada)

Occasionally you come across a place that you enjoy so much that you return again and again, and it never seems to get old. Cleveland Beach is such a place; with it’s freshwater lake filled with tadpoles, small fish, ducks, and various insects and it’s sandy beach leading to tide pools, a forested hiking trail, and a rocky point covered with sea shells there always seems to be something new to see.

IMG_4523-1

IMG_0029-1

Cleveland Beach 3-1

IMG_0142-1

IMG_9996-1

IMG_4663-1

IMG_0069-1

IMG_4780-1

Some Interesting Things to Know

Location:Cleveland Beach Provincial Park (Nova Scotia, Canada)

Habitat: This beach has a freshwater lake, brackish marshland, both sandy and rock beaches, tide pools, and a forested point.

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: There are a wide variety of bird species that frequent the area including: gulls, cormorant, black and Mallard ducks, blue heron, kingfisher, and swallows to name a few. In the tide pools hermit crabs, small green crabs, mussels, periwinkles snails and small fish have been found. The plentiful wildflowers that line the trail start to bloom in late spring and cycle through the seasons until they give their seeds up in the fall. Favorite flowers include Queen Annes Lace, wild daisies, beach peas and wild roses.

Special Features: The variety of habitats makes for exciting wildlife viewing and exploration. When little ones grow weary of one experience, they can easily move on to find amazingly different spots to explore, all in one place.

Best Time to Visit: This location has something to offer in every season. While summer offers the classic beach experience of splashing in the waves and building sand castles, it still has much to offer for rock hunting and wildlife viewing in the other seasons. In the fall the sand is pulled away from the main beach area by the shift in weather, thus making for a rocky beach most of fall, winter, and spring.

{ 2 comments }

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

……….

Victoria Park (Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada)

We recently went camping and attended the Nova Scotia Bluegrass Festival in Bible Hill, Nova Scotia. While the intent of the trip was to listen to a whole lot of great bluegrass music (which we did), we also wanted to explore some nature while we were there. One place we had heard a lot of amazing things about, and really wanted to see, was just minutes from where we were camped. One evening the kids and I took off to Victoria Park to see just what all the fuss was about and we were not disappointed. We traveled through town, parked next to the play structures and band stand, walked across a wide expanse of manicured grass to the forest – then found ourselves entering a magical land as we wondered the wooded paths, stairways, and trails. This is a spot we will return to again and again.

photo 4

photo 5

photo 2

photo 1

photo 3

photo 1-2

Some Interesting Things to Know

Location: Victoria Park, in the heart of Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada

Habitat: 400 acres of mixed woodland forest and gorge with riparian zones

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: We spotted many squirrels and birds during our visit. (One local birder has submitted a list of almost 50 birds they have identified in the park.) There were many wildflowers blooming along the waterways, and the first mushrooms were starting to pop up along the wooded trails. We even spotted some indian pipe growing on a slope – it is always exciting to see this unique plant.

Special Features: This park features two wonderful waterfalls accessible by well maintained trails. You can also find many beautiful wooden walkways, wells, a covered bridge extending over the gorge, and the amazing 175- step Jacob’s Ladder, which takes you right up a steep slope to enjoy stunning views. There are also neat geologic features in the gorge and along the trails.

Best Time to Visit: We have only been in summer, but I imagine the falls would be stunning in spring when the snow starts to melt and in fall with the mix forest changing and giving a beautiful display of fall colors.

{ 2 comments }

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

……….

Rhossili Beach and South Gower Coast (Wales)

This week we are welcoming Lisa, who is sharing wonderful spot in Wales. Not only did Lisa and her family have the chance to take in some amazing views, but they also had some great close encounters with wonderful nature finds!

4 July 2014 006

4 July 2014 008 4 July 2014 015

4 July 2014 024 4 July 2014 026 4 July 2014 035

4 July 2014 089

4 July 2014 043

Some interesting things to know:
Location: Rhossili Beach and South Gower Coast, Gower Peninsula, near Swansea, Wales
Habitat: Beach and lowland heath
Favorite Plant and Animal Life: We were delighted to find Six-Spot Burnet Moths and their pupal cases, crab moults, sea urchin tests and cuttle fish bones. Gulls and gannets circle overhead. The downs are home to the rare black bog ant, yellow whitlow grass and one of my favorite endangered birds, the chough.
Special Features: Although you might want to head straight for the unspoilt 3 mile beach, it’s work delaying the beach in favour of a hike. After a short but stiff climb, walk along the Rhossili Downs, the highest point on the Gower Peninsula rewards hikers with views of Welsh mountain ponies, the Devon coastline, Lundy Island and West Wales. Towards the end of the hike, experience a bit of World War II history by taking in the remains of a hill-side radar station. Once at the beach, at low tide you might see the remains of the Helvetia, shipwrecked in 1887. You can take a walk toward the tidal island of Worm’s Head and see if you can spot the local colony of grey seals and finish off with a locally-made scoop of ice cream in one of the small local shops.
Best time to visit: Rhossili can be very busy in the summer with busloads of tourists disembarking in the large car park. Escape the crowds by walking along the downs, visiting early in the morning or later in the evening or bringing your kite for a springtime or autumn adventure on the beach.

Thank you for sharing your amazing time along the shore, Lisa!

{ 1 comment }

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

……….

Bisti Wilderness (New Mexico)

Today we are traveling to New Mexico to visit the Bisti Wilderness, one part of the larger Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness. It is a stunning landscape that while barren on the surface, is filled with fascinating geology and hardy wildlife.

Bisti 3 view

Bisti 12 F Looking

Bisti 15 red

Bisti 20 marker

Bisti 26 view

Bisti 29 rocks

Bisti 40 Layers

Bisti 44 Green

Some Interesting Things to Know

Location: Bisti Wilderness is south of Farmington, New Mexico

Habitat: Badlands that were once part of a wetland delta near an ancient sea.

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: Ants and a few birds flying overhead were the only forms of wildlife we saw on our visit, but cotton tail rabbit, coyote and prairie dogs live there, along with a variety of birds, reptiles and insects.

Special Features: The rock formations are clearly the most visible feature and provide a wonderful look at the geologic layers that make up the history of the region. Upon closer inspection one can find fossils, petrified wood, and a variety of other rocks.

Best Time to Visit: Spring, early summer, and fall are the best times to visit. The high heat of summer would not make a pleasant visit, and the road can become impassible in the winter.

Happy Canada Day to our Canadian friends! 

Click here for a peek at some beautiful parts of Canada we have shared here on the blog.

{ 0 comments }

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

……….

Cat Creek (Alberta, Canada)

This week we welcome back Krista, who is sharing a stunning spot, Cat Creek in Alberta, Canada, where there were many amazing wildflowers, vistas, and wild creatures to observe.

470

173

224 230

213

233 268

427 453

Location: Cat Creek, Highwood area of Kananaskis country, Alberta, Canada

Habitat: montane meadow, subalpine forest, and subalpine wetland and canyon

Favorite plant and animal life: In mid-July, wildflowers in the Canadian Rockies are at their blooming peak and I was lucky enough to see more wildflowers than I could photograph. I did photograph my favourites: western wood lily, mountain harebells, Indian paintbrush, mountain avens, and wild lupine. Whenever I visit this part of the country, I never fail to spot an abundance of wild animals: big horn sheep, mountain goats, elk, and a few black bears.

Special features: Cat Creek Trail is a 3.5 km interpretive trail that winds through mountain meadows, subalpine forest, and along cat creek to a gap in a walled basin giving rise to a beautiful little waterfall. There are also amazing views of the mountains peaks of the Great Divide.

Best time of year to visit: Definitely mid summer with the glorious display of wildflowers and abundant wild animals to spot.

Thank you for sharing, Krista!

{ 0 comments }

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

……….

Hemlock Ravine Park (Nova Scotia, Canada)

Today we are traveling to Hemlock Ravine Park in Nova Scotia. Trekking in this amazing urban park is like stepping off the highway into a magical forest. While the city is only moments away it is easy to feel as if one could get lost in this park, knowing full well that if you walked just a short distance in any one direction you would bump into dwellings or a road. It is a treasure not to be missed when visiting Halifax.

Ravine Stream-1

Lady Slipper-1

OJ Fungi-1

Mushroom-1

Berries soon to be-1

Roots on the path-1

White Beauty in the Sun-1

Up the Tree-1

Some Things to Know

Location: Hemlock Ravine Park is located in Halifax, Nova Scotia. (More information can be found here, and a map of the trail system here.)

Habitat: Woodland with streams and ponds.

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: A wide variety of wildflowers, berries, and fungi can be found along the trail starting in late spring through the fall. Many bird species can be found in the park, including ducks in the heart shaped pond at the entrance to the park, and the occasional squirrel can be heard chattering from the treetops.

Special Features: The park was once part of the country estate for the Duke of Kent. While the trail system is surrounded by development now, once on the well maintained trails it feels as if you are miles away from civilization. At the entrance of the park is a lovely heart shaped pond with a trail that leads around then off into the forest.

Best Time of Year to Visit: Late spring through early winter are the best times to visit. While the trails are still accessible during the winter, they are not maintained and can be very icy at times.

{ 1 comment }

Hitting the Trail is a weekly feature here at Mud Puddles to Meteors. In each post we will share trails, parks, beaches, and museums from around the country (and sometimes even beyond). If you would like to join in and share a special nature location please send us an email at kidsandnature@gmail.com with the details listed at the bottom of the post and links to the photos. We would love to share your nature adventure!

……….

Riverside Nature Center (Farmington, New Mexico)

The Riverside Nature Center provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about the wildlife of the high desert and the riparian zone that surrounds the center. The staff are helpful and knowledgable, leading nature walks and always taking the time to talk with visitors about what they have been spotting in the area, along with answering the many questions the kids had about what they had seen out on our walks around the grounds and along the nearby river.

nature walk 13 deer center 2-1

Nature Center 1-1

Canada Geese 1-1

goslings 2-1

Grasshopper 1-1

Hum nest 1-1

Bee Box-1

Some Things to Know

Location: Riverside Nature Center in Farmington, New Mexico

Habitat: Riparian and high desert woodlands.

Favorite Plant and Animal Life: Wildlife ranging from mule deer to skunk, waterfowl to song birds, frequent the nature center grounds. The towering cottonwood trees and russian olive trees are favorites in the area surrounding the nature center. There are also dragonflies to be seen darting around the large pond.

Special Features: The center holds classes for both children and adults, along with regularly scheduled nature walks and lunches in the viewing room. There is a book shop featuring local guides and a wide range of nature inspired books. Exhibits in the center include both permeant displays and seasonal exhibitions of local nature art, photography, and informational displays.

Best Time of Year to Visit: The center is open year-round and offers a great viewing area with large windows to watch wildlife in the comfort of the indoors. (A welcome escape from the high heat of summer and the biting cold of winter.)

{ 0 comments }