Outdoors

Forest Service adding free activities at national forest

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest stretches more than 140 miles from Mount Rainier to the Canadian border and is packed with recreational opportunities. This summer, the U.S. Forest Service is adding some free activities amid the more than 1.7 million acres of national forest.

Here’s a closer look, from south to north:

CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN

Rangers are leading hikes from the summit of Crystal Mountain Thursdays-Mondays at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. The hikes last an hour and include looks at flora and (perhaps) fauna while the rangers discuss the area’s geology and history. The hikes start near the top of the Crystal Mountain Gondola. While the tour is complimentary, gondola rides are not. Gondola rides are $12-$22. For more information, call the Enumclaw ranger station at 360-825-6585 or the Silver Creek Visitor Center at 360-663-2284.

BIG 4 PICNIC AREA

Rangers are leading Saturday and Sunday interpretive walks at 11 a.m. through Sept. 7. They will explain the formation of the Big 4 Ice Caves while pointing out the details of the surrounding ecosystem along the way. The trail is federal Americans with Disabilities Act accessible. Reservations are not required. For more information, contact the Verlot Public Service Center at 360-691-7791. Smokey Bear is scheduled to make an appearance at the center at noon July 18.

HEATHER MEADOWS VISITOR CENTER

The visitor center, at Milepost 56 on state Route 542 at Mount Baker, will host a number of free programs over the summer, all of which are ADA accessible. For more information on the events, call 360-599-2714. Here’s a look at some of the programs:

Meet a Ranger: On Fridays-Sundays through Sept. 13, rangers will offer presentations about local history at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Graham Messe: A geologist, Messe will discuss Northwest glacier monitoring programs at 1 p.m. July 25.

Michael Impero: The author of several books, Impero will give a presentation on the Mount Baker Lodge at noon Aug. 1.

Bears: Western Wildlife Outreach will lead a program about black and grizzly bears at 1 p.m. Aug. 2.

Janet Oakley: On Aug. 8 at 1 p.m., Oakley will give a presentation about early female hiking clubs and their impact on public lands.

Smokey Bear: The forest mascot and a ranger will lead a forest fire presentation at 1 p.m. Aug. 15-16.

Elmer Roomsa: A Forest Service volunteer, Roomsa will discuss local black bear and cougar populations at 11:30 a.m. Aug. 22 and at noon Aug. 23.

Family Weekend: The meadows will be the location of several family-oriented activities including hikes and a Smokey Bear appearance Aug. 22-23.

Tammy Cooper-Woodrich: A Nooksack tribal elder, Cooper-Woodrich is scheduled to tell stories of animals, plant and the area at 1 p.m. Aug. 29.

NOOKSACK RIVER

An interpretive walking program called “Noisy Waters” is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturdays on the Horseshoe Bend Trail near the entrance to the Douglas Fir Campground. For more information, contact the Glacier Public Service Center at 360-599-2714.

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