Around The Parks: Maritime Heritage Trail At Biscayne, Hiking For Health At Voyageurs, Early Season Hiking At Grand Teton

From exploring sunken wrecks in Biscayne National Park to improving your health on the hiking trails of Voyageurs National Park, there's a lot going on in the National Park System this summer.

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Join a watery tour of the Maritime Heritage Trail at Biscayne National Park this month/South Florida National Parks Trust

Snorkeling Trail At Biscayne National Park

One of the more unique outings in the parks is the Maritime Heritage Trail at Biscayne, where you explore historic wrecks on the ocean bottom while snorkeling. You can celebrate the start of summer on June 21 with this experience by joining the South Florida National Parks Trust on a guided tour of this trail.

The outing is free for SFNPT members but space is limited. To reserve, email info@southfloridaparks.org or call them at 305-665-4769. Not a member? No worries! Memberships begin at $50 and you can join online on the group's website. Pictured below: the sunken schooner Mandalay, one of six shipwrecks that make up the Maritime Heritage Trail in Biscayne National Park.

Hiking For Your Health At Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park staff is encouraging people of all ages to get out and get moving for their health. In 2013, park staff embarked upon a year-long project – Hike to Health – that will be available this July. The hallmark of the program is the Hike to Health Trails Passport. The park offers 19 designated trails that range in length from one-quarter mile to 28 miles and which vary in difficulty levels from easy to strenuous. The route will not be the same until you have walked, skied, or snowshoed all 19 trails and even then visitors will never see the same thing twice.

Life abounds within the park and is waiting for you to come and experience nature, the past, and present. From microscope fungi to large ungulates such as moose, to the howl of the timber wolf, the park offers more than 240 neotropical bird species each spring that migrate through or live in the park boundaries. Sights and sounds vary with each trek into the park and there is plenty for all ages.

When hiking a park trail, visitors should will bring along their Trails Passport, a pencil or crayon. Somewhere along the trail, attached to a post, hikers will find a rubbing plate with a design etched into it. These plates are approximately three inches square and made of a hard plastic. Those who are more tech savvy can also pick up a list of GPS points for the plates from a visitor center.

Once the participating hikers find a trail’s plate, they simply hold the corresponding page in their Trails Passport booklet against the plate and carefully rub over the paper with your pencil or crayon. With the etchings in the plate, a design will appear on the page. Upon completing five, 10, and all of the trail rubbings, participants will present their Trails Passport booklet at a park visitor center to receive a stamp and recognition. But, of course, the real reward will be the sense of accomplishment and improved health.

Sponsorship for Hike to Health is provided by the Active Trails Program, which in its fifth successful year promotes healthy living by getting people outside and active on trails. The sponsors of the Active Trails Program deserve special thanks for facilitating this program. Funding is provided by Coca-Cola™ and is managed by the National Park Foundation.

Early Season Hikes At Grand Teton National Park

Early June often is referred to as "mud season" in the Rockies, as melting snowbanks and drifts generally leave mucky trails in the national parks. But at Grand Teton National Park, there are some great early season hikes to enjoy, the Grand Teton National Park Foundation points out.

With the fabulous weather in past weeks, several of the low elevation trails in the park are now free of snow and offer views of the mountains and of the first wildflowers of the season. Here, courtesy of the Foundation, are two classic Grand Teton hikes to help you kick off the summer and build your hiking legs for more strenuous hikes later in the summer. Two great options for hiking this month are Taggart Lake and Phelps Lake Overlook.

Taggart Lake

Taggart Lake is 4 miles round trip. The trail follows a mountain stream and loops up and over a glacial moraine that helps form the lake. Along the trail you will see evidence of the Beaver Creek fire of 1985 and the Lodgepole Pine that have flourished since the burn. To access the trail, park at the Taggart Lake trailhead just north of Moose park entrance.

Phelps Lake Overlook

Phelps Lake Overlook is 1.8 miles round trip and offers scenic vistas of the lake and Death Canyon. The trail steadily climbs to the overlook along a massive lateral moraine filled with aspen stands and conifer forests. Along the way the trail crosses a few small creeks and meadows that offer opportunity for great wildlife and bird watching. To get to the trail use the Death Canyon/White Grass Meadow road. A car with four-wheel drive can be helpful when accessing the trailhead.

Both of these trails are fantastic spots to view your first wildflowers of the season, the Foundation notes. These early bloomers are common not only in the park but also throughout the valley. Keep your eyes peeled as some of them are small and easy to miss!