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Monday, August 15, 2016


Ranger led hikes exercise both body and brain

It's common knowledge that there are many benefits associated with hiking. The exercise is good for your body and the rhythmic pounding of boots on earth and the sweat-fueled endorphin bliss afford a respite from the hassles of everyday life. Hiking just might be  the sweetest, most satisfying form of self-healing known to human kind. But the perks don't end with the physical gains. There are brain-fortifying learning opportunities right along the beaten path---if you know where to look for them.
A geologist describes Go John diorite
Abundant mental stimulation is within easy reach at Maricopa County Regional Parks. With close to town sites located near lakes, streams, mountains and sprawling valleys, the park system is sort of a microcosm of desert life. Although solo hiking within the parks provides a good workout with a side of grand scenery, it just skims the surface in terms of understanding the surrounding environment. To gain insight into the fascinating world through which park trails wander; participate in a ranger led hike or activity. Many of the system's twelve parks and recreation areas host events year-round including early morning and moonlight hikes to beat the summer heat.
Learn about ancient rock art

The menu of events range from kid-pleasing, silly fun (“Bug Theater", anyone?) to explorations of ancient cultural sites that enrich the nature experience for hikers of all ages. If you want to learn about edible desert plants, identify which creepy crawlies are poisonous, demystify complex geological specimens or are looking to meet new friends on a fitness hike, there's sure to be an upcoming event to suit your needs.
These hills hold many secrets...

Some ranger-led treks like "Hohokam Houses" which is offered regularly at Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area in Cave Creek, venture into sensitive archeological areas that are normally off limits. To the unenlightened visitor, ancient cultural sites might look like random rock piles, but under the tutelage of a ranger, back stories culled from the rubble tickle the imagination. You'll learn about clues unearthed by excavations that hint at the community structures, survival strategies and life ways of long-gone inhabitants while gaining an appreciation for the preservation of heritage sites. And, oh yeah, there is one more hiking benefit specific to park programs---freebies. As an added incentive to get moving during the summer months, some events culminate with a drawing for a family 4-pack (4 tickets) to Wet 'n' Wild Water Park. Check the parks website for details.

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