Rockport State Park hosts guided hikes, Junior Ranger activities through the winter

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission invites the public to experience an ancient forest this winter at Rockport State Park, through guided hikes, educational programming and interpretive activities for all ages.

* The Deep Forest Experience will take place between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until Feb. 18, 2018 at Rockport State Park, 51905 State Route 20, Rockport.

* Guided hikes depart from the Discovery Center at 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Rockport State Park staff and volunteers will lead half-mile, 45-minute walks under a dense canopy of maple trees and old growth fir, cedar and hemlock.

Many of the Rockport trees are more than 400 years old and top out at 250 feet. They include the 500-year old Grandmother Cedar.

Photo by Morf Morford

Photo by Morf Morford

During the walks, interpretive staff and guest speakers will discuss the ecosystems that keep forests healthy, including salmon-bearing streams, bird and animal scat and mycorrhizal fungi. Participants are encouraged to dress for cold, wet, winter weather, including suitable footwear.

Visitors can also duck into the family-friendly Discovery Center, enjoy free refreshments and hot cocoa by the woodstove, explore interactive displays, watch nature videos, read books and make crafts.

Rockport will also offer Junior Ranger programs this winter, which combine age-appropriate opportunities for children to learn, play and protect natural spaces.

Junior Rangers are encouraged to complete the Junior Ranger activity booklet as well as attend a guided hike. Booklets are available at the Discovery Center, and activities are suitable for children age five and older.

Three Guest Speakers are also scheduled as part of the 2017-2018 Deep Forest Experience:

* Noon, Dec. 9: “Edible and Medicinal Plants,” with local expert Terri Wilde.

* 11 a.m., Feb. 10: “Lichens and Why They’re Important to the Forest,” with Dr. Katherine Glew, associate curator, University of Washington Herbarium, Burke Museum of Natural History.

* 11 a.m., Feb. 17: “Tree Ecology—Discussion and Walkabout” with Kevin Zobrist, author and forestry professor, Washington State University.

More speakers may be added to the Deep Forest Experience programming; their presentations will be listed on the State Parks online calendar at http://parks.state.wa.us/Calendar.aspx. For more information, contact Rockport State Park, (360) 854-8846 (mobile) or (360) 853-8461 (office).

The Deep Forest Experience programs are free. A $10 day-use pass or $30 annual Discover Pass is required for parking at Rockport State Park; passes can be purchased at the office or Discovery Center. For more information: www.discoverpass.wa.gov.

About Rockport State Park:  Rockport State Park is a 632-acre day-use park on the Skagit River in the North Cascades foothills. The park stands at the foot of 5,400-foot Sauk Mountain and provides an extraordinary example of old-growth forest. Rockport offers 5 miles of trails, including a 1-mile ADA-accessible trail. For more information, visit: http://parks.state.wa.us/574/Rockport

About Washington State Parks:  The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission manages more than 100 state parks and properties totaling approximately 120,000 acres. The Commission provides a variety of recreation opportunities for citizens and provides stewardship protection for a diverse array of natural, cultural and historic resources. State Parks’ statewide programs include long-distance trails, boating safety and winter recreation.

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Support state parks by purchasing your annual Discover Pass today, and enjoy a whole year of outdoor fun on Washington’s beautiful state-managed recreation lands. For more information, visit www.discoverpass.wa.gov

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