Christmas bird count: Volunteers are needed for the Everett-Marysville Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 30. Join a team of 10 counters in the field or sit in the warmth of your home and count birds at feeders. The North County circle is 15 miles in diameter and includes all of Marysville, the Tulalip Reservation, Everett north of 32nd Street, Smokey Point, Hat Island, the southern tip of Camano Island, and parts of Arlington and Lake Stevens. Email area leader Scott Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out if your address is in the circle, or if you want to join others in the field. No birding experience necessary.
Winter walk: The walk is 9:50 a.m. to noon Jan. 6, Camano Island State Park, 2269 Lowell Point Road, Camano Island. Meet at the picnic shelter near the boat ramp. The walk includes two elevation gains of about 50 feet, with the rest of the walk fairly level. The trail is 2.6 miles with views of Saratoga Passage and Elger Bay, including a walk through a fern grotto and ravine. The pace is moderate. Walks take place rain or shine but are canceled if there is snow or extremely high winds. Wear clothing appropriate for weather conditions, sturdy shoes or boots. Discover Pass required. More at www.camanowildlifehabitat.org.
Winter photography outings: Photography enthusiasts from expert to novice are invited to go on group trips to shoot winter-inspired photos at Snoqualmie Pass. Commonwealth Creek offers many unique photographic interests: ice falls, cool vapors and the swirling dark waters of mid-winter. Participants should bring a well-stocked backpack with their own film or digital cameras and a lunch. This trip usually lasts four to five hours. Scheduled outings are 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Jan. 6, 14, 20 and 28; Feb. 3, 11, 17 and 25; March 3, 4, 17 and 18. Suggested donation of $25. Call 425-434-6111.
Kids in the snow: A 90-minute outing that jump starts participants on their way to earn a Junior Snow Ranger badge at Snoqualmie Pass. Identify tracks, learn about exploring nature in winter, and climb into an igloo (snowpack permitting). Discover which animals live nearby that turn white in winter, sleep the winter away, burrow and live entirely under the snow and those that can freeze themselves nearly solid right through until the spring melt. Kid-sized snowshoes are available. Outings are 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays, Jan. 20 through March 24. Suggested donation of $15 for adults and $10 for youth 16 and under. Call 425-434-6111.
Winterfest: Cama Beach State Park has activities throughout December such as guided hikes, starlight low tide beach walks, music and zombies at the park, 1880 SW Camano Drive, Camano Island. Activities take place at various times on Dec. 30 and 31. A Discover Pass is required for day-use visits to the park. More at www.camabeachfoundation.org/winterfest.html.
Wallace Falls State Park: First day hike on Jan. 1, which is a free day at Washington States Parks (no Discover Pass required). Two hike options: a 1.5-mile stroll on the Small Falls Interpretive Trail with a focus on forest ecology and a 4-mile moderately difficult hike on the Woody Trail to Middle Falls with a focus on park features and history. Meet at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 1 for the Interpretive Trail hike and at 10 a.m. for the Middle Falls hike. Both hikes start at the parking area trailhead. More at http://adventureawaits.com.
SNOWSHOE WITH A RANGER
Snoqualmie Pass: Short hike, 1-mile loop that winds through old-growth forest. See normally hidden lichens, fungus, winter birds and mammals. Discover what critters made those mysterious tracks and what exactly all those tiny black insects flipping around on the snow are. Hikes are 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Jan. 6 through March 25. Suggested donation of $15 for adults, $10 for youth 16 and under for short hike. Call 425-434-6111.
Snoqualmie Pass: Extended hike is about 5 miles. Trek into the heart of Commonwealth Basin, a landscape rich with snowshoe routes and interesting winter life. Marten, ground squirrel, bobcat and wolverine all travel through the area, sometimes leaving evidence on the fresh snow. Hikes are 9 a.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Jan. 5 through March 25. Suggested donation of $25 per person for the half-day hikes. Call 425-434-6111.
Stevens Pass Mountain Resort: Learn about the winter environment, plants, wildlife, local history and snow safety on this 90-120 minute guided nature discovery tour along the Pacific Crest Trail. Meet at the Forest Service Guard Station by Parking Lot A. An optional Stevens Pass history presentation will be given at 10:30 a.m. Sessions are 11 a.m. on Saturdays, Jan. 6 through March 24, and 11 a.m. Sundays, Jan. 7 through March 25. Suggested donation is $15 for adults and $10 for youth 16 and under. Call 360-677-2414.
Darrington Ranger District: A hike for those who have never used snowshoes before or anyone interested in learning about the ecology and history of this low-elevation winter wonderland. It follows the route of the former Everett and Monte Cristo railway as it winds its way up the South Fork Stillaguamish River. There are stops along the way for discussions on who and what lives in the valley during the winter and how they manage to do it, from Golden-crowned Kinglets to beavers to humans. The turnaround point is the site of the former Big 4 Inn where participants will have lunch at the picnic shelter and possibly get a glimpse of the 4,000-foot vertical face of Big Four Mountain. Hikes start at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 27 and 28, Jan. 27 and 28 and Feb. 3. Call 360-436-1155.
Mt. Baker Ranger District: Snowshoe near the Hannegan Pass Road, Heather Meadows or other location depending on snow levels and weather. The interpretive snowshoe walks last two to three hours. Reservations are required and snowshoes are provided. A $15 donation is suggested. Snowshoe and winter safety basics while gaining knowledge about winter ecology, recreation opportunities and the cultural history of the North Fork Nooksack drainage. Hikes are at 10 a.m. Jan. 28, Feb. 4, Feb. 11 and March 4. A $15 donation is suggested. Call 360-599-9572.
Calendar: The Washington State Parks 2018 wall calendar is available for $18.99. Photographs include a panoramic view of Daroga State Park, Gardner Cave at Crawford State Park, Skagit Island Marine State Park in the San Juan Islands, a fairytale scene of a cabin in the woods at Kitsap Memorial State Park, an underwater photo of an opalescent nudibranch at Saltwater State Park and a holiday scene at Deception Pass State Park. To purchase, visit myprint.wa.gov and enter “calendar” in the search area. A link to the calendar order also is available on the State Parks website at www.parks.state.wa.us/wallcalendar. To submit a photo to be considered for inclusion in the 2019 State Parks calendar, go to http://wspf.org.
Free park-ing: The first Washington State Parks free day of 2018 is Jan. 1. Others are: Jan. 15, Martin Luther King Jr. Day; March 19, State Park’s 105th birthday; April 14, Spring day; April 22, Earth Day; June 2, National Trails Day; June 9, National Get Outdoors Day; June 10, Fishing Day; Aug. 25, National Park Service 102st Birthday; Sept. 29, National Public Lands Day; Nov. 11, Veterans Day; and Nov. 23, Autumn day. There are 12 free days in 2018. More at www.discoverpass.wa.gov.
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