If you’re planning a vacation out in nature this summer, check out the 19 newly designated National Recreation Trails that add 370 miles of new trails in 17 states.
Scholars in fields including wilderness therapy and environmental psychology have shown that time outdoors benefits human lives in many ways. It can have a therapeutic effect, relieve stress and restore attention, while showing us our connections with the natural world.
The new trails include:
Mt. Umunhum Trail
The Mt. Umunhum Trail offers 3.7 miles of moderate terrain to hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians as it passes through chaparral, pine and oak woodlands, over the headwaters of Guadalupe Creek, and climbs to one of the few publicly accessible peaks in the Bay Area. Views reveal the valley below, ridgelines, and nearby peaks. The trail emerges near the rocky summit where rare plants, lizards, birds, butterflies, and 360-degree vistas can be seen.
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park Trail System
In the city of Jacksonville’s Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, 20.85 miles of hiking and biking trails provide experiences for all skill levels: from easy hiking and biking on the 1.1-mile Service Road, to hiking the 6.0-mile Wellness Trail, to biking the difficult 3.9-mile off-road Z-Trail. The trail system provides access to the shoreline, the extensive dune system and maritime hammocks.
Fort Larned Historic Nature Trail
On the grounds of Fort Larned National Historic Site, this 1.1-mile loop trail highlights history and nature. Fort Larned is located on the historic Santa Fe Trail and on the Central Flyway, a major bird migration corridor. There are 15 stops along the trail corresponding to detailed information in the trail guide. A variety of habitats provide opportunities to view numerous species of birds.
Fort River Birding and Nature Trail
This 1.1-mile Fort River Birding and Nature Trail is located in Hadley at the Fort River Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. The trail is universally accessible and functions as an outdoor visitor center, connecting people to nature by immersing them in diverse habitats from grasslands, riparian areas and upland forests.
Iron Ore Heritage Trail
The Iron Ore Heritage Trail is a 47-mile, multi-use, year-round trail that connects the sites and stories of the Marquette Iron Range, a historical area where iron mines operated to serve the country during the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, World War I and World War II. The rail-trail connects Marquette to Republic in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
North Western State Trail
The 32 miles of the North Western State Trail connect the resort communities of Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Alanson, Pellston, and Mackinaw City in northern Michigan. Most of the universally accessible trail is located on the former Grand Rapids and Indiana line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It is open year-round to non-motorized users and to snowmobilers in winter.
Cannon Valley Trail
Paralleling the Cannon River, this 19.7-mile trail runs through diverse scenery on a former Chicago Great Western Railroad line connecting the cities of Cannon Falls, Welch and Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota. The trail is open in all seasons for bicycling, in-line skating, skateboarding, hiking, walking and cross-country skiing.
Wilson’s Creek Greenway
The 5-mile Wilson’s Creek Greenway is the newest extension of a growing urban trail network in Springfield. The trail connects neighborhoods, schools, businesses and shopping area. People of all ages and abilities can access the woods and pastureland of the Ozarks for active transportation, bicycling, walking, running, skating and wheelchair use.
River’s Edge Trail
The 53 miles of the River’s Edge Trail in Great Falls is designed for biking, jogging, inline skating, running and walking. Nineteen miles of fully accessible paved urban trails link many local parks and attractions along both sides of the scenic Missouri River. Connecting to the urban trails are more than 30 miles of natural trails on the South Shore and North Shore for mountain biking and hiking in the region.
Climax Canyon Nature Trail
This easy to navigate 3-mile, figure-8 loop trail overlooking downtown Raton is named after the now abandoned Climax Mine. Schools use the trail as a field trip location to teach students about ecology, biology, geology and natural science. The trail is historically significant and offers views of mountains, mesas and New Mexico’s high plains.
NEW MEXICO AND TEXAS
Guadalupe Ridge Trail
Starting in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, 100 miles of trail traverses the rocky peaks of the highest point in Texas (Guadalupe Peak), Chihuahuan Desert terrain, mixed coniferous forests, riparian woodlands and rocky canyons. The trail continues through the landscapes of the Lincoln National Forest. An optional loop includes Last Chance Canyon and the desert oasis of Sitting Bull Falls. The trail then crosses Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Bureau of Land Management property, with views of the rugged Guadalupe Ridge. The trail ends in White’s City, NM.
Martin Van Buren Nature Trails
This 3.7-mile system of trails is on 70 acres of land across from the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site. The trails are ideal for hiking, walking, families, dog walkers, environmental education and youth activities. Features include meadow, stream, marsh, forest, farm, rolling hills and historic right of way.
Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail
Named for a local conservationist, the Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail is a 3.1-mile urban rail-trail on the east end of the city of Johnstown. The trail offers views of the Stonycreek River, bird-life and wildflower and Buttermilk Falls within an urban setting. As part of the local vision to make recreational trail use more accessible in the Johnstown area, the trail provides opportunities for wellness, enhanced recreational experiences and connections to other trail systems.
The Blackberry Trail is located entirely within Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This one-mile gravel trail connects with the Centennial Trail in the Black Elk Wilderness, a part of the Black Hills National Forest. Mainly used by equestrians as a spur trail to access Mount Rushmore, visitors can ride horses or hike the trail.
Bays Mountain Park Trail System
Rising above the city of Kingsport, Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium features roughly 40 miles of trails suitable for all levels of hiking and mountain biking expertise. From scenic, fun, single-track trails to old service roads leading to the ridgetop fire tower, 31 named trails provide an escape to the natural world.
Salado Creek Greenway
The Salado Creek Greenway is a 15-mile scenic multi-use trail along Salado Creek within the northern part of the city of San Antonio. The trail connects the natural environment with the people who live near it and provides recreation for the surrounding neighborhoods.
This trail on Bureau of Land Management land leads to Corona Arch’s 140 x 105-foot opening and the adjacent Bow Tie Arch. Approximately 14 driving miles from Moab, the 1.5-mile out-and-back trail provides visitors with views of the Colorado River and a large slickrock canyon.
Wright’s Mountain Trails
This 7.2-mile network of paths and old logging roads provides recreational access to the forest land and wildlife habitat of Wright’s Mountain, Bradford’s highest peak. At the summit, visitors can enjoy a view in all seasons of the Waits River Valley. The pedestrian trails were constructed and are maintained by volunteers.
Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail
The Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail is a 15.7-mile converted rails-to-trail located in King George County. The corridor offers a continuous gravel and stone dust surface for walkers, runners and bikers. The trail is an official part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.
The National Recreation Trails Program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, in conjunction with a number of federal and not-for-profit partners, including American Trails, which hosts the National Recreation Trails website.
Photo: Corona Arch Trail in Utah by John Fowler / CC
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the food journey from field to plate at 24 urban farms on the Cultivate Kansas City Urban Grown Farms & Garden Tour on Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10.
On this self-guided tour, visitors will be able to meet and talk to the farmers who grow food and raise animals on urban lots and unusual spaces throughout the metro area. The tour is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday and Noon – 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $15/person or $10/person in groups of four or more at Cultivate Kansas City.
New to the tour this year, Cultivate Kansas City is hosting a Farm Crawl at each of its own sites, including the Westport Commons Farm. Ticketholders are offered a food item from a local vendor and a beverage. A ticket that includes the farm tour and crawl is $30.
The crawl takes place on Saturday during the tour, with the following food vendors:
The Sundry and Restless Spirits Distilling, 2 – 4 p.m. at Westport Commons Farm, 300 E. 39th St., Kansas City, MO
Betty Raes Ice Cream and S.D. Strong Distilling, 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. at Juniper Gardens, 1800 Richmond Ave., Kansas City, KS
The two-day event, which occurs every other year, allows participants self-guided access to two dozen urban farms, gardens and homesteads across the Kansas City metro area.
Cultivate Kansas City will be highlighting plans for its new Westport Commons Farm, located at the old Westport Middle School that now houses Plexpod. The organization currently manages two other farm sites: The Food Forest, a self-sustaining quarter-acre plot, located in Merriam, KS; and Juniper Gardens Training Farm, which is used in partnership with Catholic Charities of Northeast KS for the New Roots for Refugees program.
The tour begins this week with these free, kick-off events:
Urban Grown Kick-Off with Tom Philpott
Wednesday, June 6: 6:30 p.m.
Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm Historic Site, 1200 E Kansas City Rd, Olathe, KS
The tour will kick off with a presentation by Tom Philpott, food and agriculture correspondent for Mother Jones Magazine, at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6 at Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm Historic Site, 1200 E Kansas City Rd, Olathe, KS. Registration is encouraged at Cultivate KC.
CSA Chef Pop-Up
Thursday, June 7: 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden parking lot, 4800 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO
Watch two local chefs in a cook-off using ingredients from the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription box offered by Powell Gardens and featuring executive chef Bryan Sparks of The Jacobson, and executive chef Bryant Wigger of Tavernonna in the Hotel Phillips. The event includes cooking demos, tastings and an on-site tour of the orchards and community garden.
Urban Grown Bike Tour
Saturday, June 9
Family Bicycles, 7337 Broadway, Kansas City, MO
Hop on your bike and tour a selection of farm tour sites on a group ride organized by Family Bicycles. The morning tour includes nearby sites and will last approximately three hours. Contact Theresa Van Ackeren at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-728-3834 for details.
A national effort to fight climate change and high food bills is being organized by Green America to urge Americans to plant “Climate Victory Gardens” to reduce carbon emissions while growing safe, healthy and less expensive food.
Green America announced its new Climate Victory Gardens campaign to encourage Americans to follow the World War II lead of their grandparents by planting an edible garden in their backyard or community garden. Climate Victory Gardens include practices like no-till, cover crops, perennials and composting that help to create healthy soils. The effort is aimed at mitigating carbon emissions and storing carbon in the soil while growing safe and healthy foods.
During the first and second World Wars, Americas rallied to feed their communities at home and support troops overseas by planting “Victory Gardens.” By 1944, nearly 20-million victory gardens produced eight-million tons of food, equaling about 40 percent of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the U.S. at the time.
How realistic is it to assume 40-million Climate Victory Gardens can be started? According to the National Gardening Association, 35 percent of all households in America, or 42-million households, are growing food at home or in a community garden. In addition to new Victory Gardens, many of the of these existing gardens could adopt climate-sensitive practices.
“Americans want to take actions that have a direct impact on climate change,” said Todd Larsen, Green America’s executive co-director of consumer and corporate engagement. “They are also increasingly concerned about the chemicals on store-bought produce. Climate Victory Gardens gives us all a way to reduce our impact on the planet, while ensuring the food we feed our families is safe and nutritious.”
Industrial agriculture is one of the most carbon and water-intensive industries, and the massive chemicals used in industrial farms damages the soil, pollutes local communities, and put the consumers’ health at risk. Climate Victory Gardens is a campaign of Green America Re(store) It! Program that advocates for a regenerative agricultural system in the U.S. that protects soils and sequesters carbon, while eliminating toxic chemicals.
“Agriculture is currently a major contributor to climate change,” said Jes Walton, food campaigns specialist at Green America. “Climate Victory Gardens are a way for all Americans to change that, turning food into a practice that feeds the earth and reduces greenhouse gasses. The gardens are also a great way for all Americans to better understand where our food comes from and the importance of preserving healthy soils for generations to come.”
If you’d like to test drive up to nine different electric vehicles (EV) in one place and learn about new rebates, the KCP&L Clean Charge Network is offering a unique opportunity on Saturday, June 9 in Kansas City.
According to the Clean Charge Network, plug-in EVs can cost two-thirds less than gas-powered vehicles to operate. They have no tailpipe emissions, which accounts overall for 26 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Over the past few years, EV manufacturers have reduced “range anxiety” by increasing the distance that each EV will go on a charge. In Kansas City, KCP&L has installed more than 1,000 EV charging stations, which is the more than any other city in the United States.
Additionally, KCP&L customers and employees can qualify for a $3,000 discount on the 2018 Nissan Leaf through June 30, and all EV buyers are eligible for up to a $7,500 federal tax credit.
The KCP&L Electric Car Guest Drive event will include representatives from each EV manufacturer to answer questions and provide test drives of these EVs:
Ford Focus Energi
Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model S
Tesla Model X
The event will be held from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 9 at Penn Valley Park. To be able to test drive the EVs, register in advance at KCP&L Electric Car Guest Drive.
Traverse through Brookside, Sunset Hills and Central Hyde Park for garden inspiration at seven gardens on the Wornall/Majors House Museums Garden Tour on Saturday, June 2.
The biennial tour will feature native and edible plants, chickens, butterfly and pollinator gardens and a new urban Flower Farm and Design Studio at five private gardens, plus the medicinal and aromatic herb garden at the Wornall House Museum and an opportunity to meet the head horticulturist at the Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden.
The garden tour kicks off with a patron’s party at 7 pm. on Friday, June 1 that includes a cocktail reception, hors d’ oeuvres and a sneak preview of the gardens. Tickets are $100 and include re-entry to the gardens on June 2. The full garden tour is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, June 2. Tickets are $20 members / $25 in advance / $30 the day of the tour. Tickets can be purchased online at Wornall/Majors House Museums Garden Tour, by calling 816-444-1858, or at local Hen House grocery stores.
Tour gardens include:
Dana Posten: 4941 Westwood Road, Kansas City, MO
The Dana Posten’s Garden in Sunset Hills is more than a reflection of the owner’s love of cut flowers. She recently opened POSY, a new urban Flower Farm and Design Studio. Visitors will learn from a professional the best garden practices for growing cut flowers and stroll paths bordered by peonies, gomphrena, verbena, flowering tobacco, magnolia, winterberry, cotton and lavender.
David Lucken & Paul Mesner: 3611 Holmes St. & 3615 Holmes St., Kansas City, MO
Two adjacent properties come together to form the gardens of David Lucken and renown puppeteer Paul Mesner in this Central Hyde Park garden. While the front yards maintain separate identities as sun gardens, the back yards flow together to create an edible paradise. Chickens, fruit trees, berry bushes, vegetables and herbs offer a functional and aesthetic space for these urban farmers.
Jill DeWitt & Charles Wurrey: 525 E. 54th St., Kansas City, MO
The front yard of Jill DeWitt and Charles Wurrey is a spectacular garden of native plants curated to encourage pollinators and birds. An oasis for biodiversity and Missouri’s natural heritage, native trees, shrubs and wildflowers adorn this Crestwood home to form a landscape that is sustainable and water-wise.
Cynthia & Bill Schmidt: 5400 Cherry St., Kansas City, MO
Situated on a sunny, corner lot, the garden and Cynthia and Bill Schmidt is a perennial oasis. Sugar maples, redbud, cherry and river birch are the hallmarks of this mature urban ecosystem that also features blueberries, viburnum, lilacs, perennial wildflowers and groundcover. The landscape attracts swallowtails, hummingbirds, songbirds and monarchs. In the backyard, three raised beds feature vegetables and herbs.
Ann Skinner-Einbender & Ron Einbender: 5414 Cherry St., Kansas City, MO
Form, function and color come together in this English-inspired Cherry Street garden. Influenced by memories of her father’s garden in England, Ann Skinner-Einbender and Ron Einbender, with the help of Aaron Browning, crafted their backyard into a “working garden” where flower and vegetable plots are combined for beauty and practicality in one space. A shaded area intertwined with footpaths provides a peaceful setting to observe the birds and butterflies who enjoy native milkweed and surrounding plants.
The Wornall House Garden: 6115 Wornall Road, Kansas City, MO
The Master Gardeners of Greater Kansas City have been instrumental in designing The Wornall House Garden in the spirit of John and Eliza Wornall, the 1858 settlors of the property. Plants utilized for medicinal, household and aromatic dishes cover the entire garden, creating an area that is reflective of 19th century, pioneer life and presents ideas on sustainable gardening practices that still apply today.
Kauffman Gardens: 4800 Rockhill Road, Kansas City, MO
The Ewing and Muriel Kauffman Memorial Garden draws inspiration from the couple’s journey through life. Duane Hoover, the lead horticulturist, will share the gardening practices behind the display.
The Wornall/Majors House Museums is a nonprofit that preserves the John Wornall House and the Alexander Majors House. Both homes are on the National Register of Historic Places and are two of the few remaining antebellum-era landmarks in the Kansas City metro. The John Wornall House, 6115 Wornall Road, is in the Brookside neighborhood and The Alexander Majors House is located at 8201 State Line Road, both in Kansas City, MO.
Nearly 70 percent of conventionally grown produce is contaminated with pesticides, but some foods are dangerously worse than others, especially for children. Find the top “Dirty Dozen” ranked by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in its annual Dirty Dozen Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.
Here is the 2018 Dirty Dozen list:
Sweet bell peppers
EWG found the most contaminated sample of strawberries had 22 different pesticides. Ninety-eight percent of conventionally grown spinach samples contained almost twice as much pesticide residue by weight compared to any other crop. The pesticide residues had high concentrations of a neurotoxic pesticide banned in Europe for use on food crops. It’s part of a class of pesticides that recent studies link to behavioral disorders in young children.
The EWG analysis of tests by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that nearly 70 percent of samples of 48 types of conventional produce were contaminated with residues of one or more pesticides. USDA researchers found a total of 230 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on the thousands of produce samples they analyzed. The pesticide residues remained on fruits and vegetables even after they were washed, and in some cases, peeled.
“It is vitally important that everyone eats plenty of produce, but it is also wise to avoid dietary exposure to toxic pesticides, from conception through childhood,” said Sonya Lunder, EWG senior analyst. “With EWG’s guide, consumers can fill their fridges and fruit bowls with plenty of healthy conventional and organic produce that isn’t contaminated with multiple pesticide residues.”
Lunder said it’s especially important to reduce young children’s exposures to pesticides. The pesticide industry and chemical agriculture maintain that pesticides on produce are nothing to worry about, but doctors and scientists strongly disagree.
“Even low levels of pesticide exposure can be harmful to infants, babies and young children, so when possible, parents and caregivers should take steps to lower children’s exposures to pesticides while still feeding them diets rich in healthy fruits and vegetables,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.
Landrigan, dean of Global Health and Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mt. Sinai, was the principal author of a landmark 1993 National Academy of Sciences study, Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. The study led to enactment of the 1996 Food Quality Protection Act that set safety standards for pesticides on foods.
By contrast, EWG’s Clean Fifteen™ list of produce least likely to contain pesticide residues, or lower residues, include:
Frozen sweet peas
Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest, with less than one percent of samples showing any detectable pesticides. More than 80 percent of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbages had no pesticide residues. No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen tested positive for more than four pesticides.
Load up the kids and head to a two-day, water festival with StoneLion Puppet Theatre and its giant puppet show, food trucks, music, art and games at Theis Park on Brush Creek.
The Illuminated Waters Festival created by StoneLion Puppet Theatre will include a play each night featuring illuminated puppets that are on and off the actual waters of Brush Creek. After the show, there will be a family friendly, glow party with glowing art, glow performers, music and interactive games alongside the illuminated puppets.
This unique, free, festival will be held Memorial Day weekend from 6 – 10 p.m. on Friday, May 25 and Saturday, May 26 at the Theis Park Amphitheater, Oak and 47th streets, Kansas City, MO. The Illuminated Waters puppet show will start at 8 p.m. each night.
StoneLion’s goal is to bring awareness to environmental issues in the Kansas City region and provide realistic opportunities for change and involvement through the art of puppetry to promote clean water and a clean planet. For more information, visit StoneLion Puppets.
Join Kansas City’s effort to improve air quality this summer by competing in the Green Commute Challenge to reduce emissions. Ride a bus, streetcar, bike, carpool, or walk/telecommute to work.
This friendly competition helps improve air quality during the time of year that traditionally produces the highest ozone levels. Air quality is most vulnerable during the summer months when heat, sunlight and emissions combine in the atmosphere to create ozone. The Green Commute Challenge encourages work places to form an employee team and find alternatives to driving for their daily work commutes. Individuals can also register.
The 11th annual Green Commute Challenge will be held from June 1 to August 31. Participating commuters will be able to access an online tool to track activities that reduce driving miles and show the reduced emissions and money saved.
“We hear from participants each year that the Green Commute Challenge is a great motivator for exploring commute options,” said Amanda Graor, air quality program manager for the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC). “Changing your commuting habits may seem difficult, but we offer lots of tools and resources that we hope make it easier to consider alternative transportation.”
To get started, register a company team or individual at RideshareKC.
Find unique, local, handmade, vintage and repurposed art and crafts at the Strawberry Swing Indie Craft Fair this weekend at the Alexander Majors Barn in Kansas City.
The fair was founded in 2011 and today is touted as one of the top 35 indie craft fairs in the world. The weekend event will host more than 100 vendors, plus food trucks, live music, a photo booth and kids’ crafts. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20 at 8201 State Line Road, Kansas City, MO.
The first 100 customers each day who donate $10 to the fair’s non-profit partner, Troost Market Collective, will receive a swag bag of items vendors have donated, like earrings, lip gloss, prints, etc.