Friday, January 30, 2015

Celebrate Great Outdoors Month with a hike or a campout

Wildflowers Snow MountainW

Colorful wildflowers greet hikers on the Summit Springs Trail, which leads to the peaks of Snow Mountain, at 7,000 feet elevation. Charlotte Orr/Courtesy photo

By Charlotte M. Orr

Each year, June is celebrated as Great Outdoors Month through a presidential proclamation. Great Outdoors Month highlights the numerous benefits of the diverse outdoor recreation and essential natural resources provided by our public lands and waters.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, Americans spend $646 billion on outdoor recreation every year. Our love for the great outdoors creates jobs, supports communities and generates tax revenue that helps the economy.

In his proclamation, President Obama states, “Our natural landscapes provide refuge for those seeking solitude. They attract tourism, create jobs and honor our history and cultural heritage. They are family campgrounds, arenas for recreation and backdrops for countless adventures. …

“This month, as we enjoy the natural splendor of our nation, let us stay true to a uniquely American idea — that each of us has an equal stake in the land around us, and an equal responsibility to protect it. Together, let us ensure our children and grandchildren will be able to look upon our lands with the same sense of wonder as all the generations that came before.”

Tuleyome, a Woodland-based nonprofit, celebrates the great outdoors year-round with its campaign to permanently protect 350,000 acres of federal public lands in the Berryessa Snow Mountain region, and with its award-winning program, Tuleyome Home Place Adventures.

Home Place Adventures encourage people of all ages to become more connected to and involved with the natural world, with the goal of educating and empowering the local community to care for and help protect the land and resources that we enjoy and on which we depend.

The program provides engaging outdoor experiences and service projects that encourage local youths to become leaders in conservation, sustainability and land stewardship. The program also offers free guided hikes and outings for the public. If you visit their “Tuleyome Trails” page online you will find a free database of trail maps and local recreation information. The program also has opportunities for volunteers to participate in habitat restoration, and trail-building and maintenance projects.

Starting this month, Tuleyome Home Place Adventures also will offer a free lecture series that focuses on nature and science. More information is available at

Ways to celebrate Great Outdoors Month:

Hit the trails. Try the Smittle Creek Trail at Lake Berryessa, which provides a fairly easy hike along Lake Berryessa’s shoreline from Smittle Creek Park to Coyote Knolls in Oak Shores Park. Summer is the perfect time to bring a swimsuit for a dip in a quiet cove, and dogs are allowed on leash.

Another great hiking option is Valley Vista Regional Park. The Valley Vista Trail, built by Tuleyome, starts from across the highway from Camp Haswell, and rises up to join the existing trail that leads from the base of the hill at the highway, up to a high point known as Rumsey Knob.

Rumsey Knob is a scenic overlook of the Capay Valley and Rumsey Canyon. It’s steep up to the spur ridge to the overlook, rising 1,700 feet in 2 miles. A nice hike is up to the first knoll (about 1.3 miles each way) with a picnic table for eating lunch and enjoying the view.

Portions of the trail can be steep, so bring good shoes and hiking poles. With the weather heating up, remember to set out early, wear a hat and sunscreen, bring snacks to stay energized, and pack lots of water.

* Go fish. Lake Berryessa is the perfect spot for fishing and boating. There are numerous boat ramps, and the lake is home to a variety of fish, including catfish, Chinook and kokanee salmon, brown and rainbow trout, smallmouth and largemouth bass, spotted bass and bluegill.

* Camp! Round up your friends and family and plan a campout. The Great American Backyard Campout is on June 28. Set up camp in your own back yard, or take a drive to your wild back yard in the public lands of the Berryessa Snow Mountain region.

— Charlotte M. Orr is Tuleyome Home Place Adventures program director.



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