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If the rain and stormy weather have you itching to get outside, help has arrived in the form of Land Trust of Napa County’s 2019 Spring-Summer Field Trip Guide.

Twice a year, the Land Trust creates a lineup of field trips and outings open to the public in an effort to promote their mission of preserving land in Napa.

With over 73,000 acres of land protected in their 43-year history – an area slightly larger than the Point Reyes National Seashore – the hike program gives the Napa community a chance to not only visit some of these beautiful protected areas, but also learn a little bit about the Land Trust along the way.

“We protect land in a variety of ways, sometimes with multiple funding sources and a handful of partners,” said Megan Lilla, the Land Trust’s assistant stewardship coordinator and hike program leader. “But what ties them all together is the key environmental functions they serve. Watersheds, oak woodlands and wildlife corridors are just a few examples of our priorities, and most of the time the places we protect fall under more than one category.”

This spring and summer, the Land Trust will offer a wide variety of excursions—some mainstays and others new—spanning across the county with an experienced crew of volunteers leading the trails. Examples include finding fungi on their Dunn-Wildlake Preserve, taking a paddle up the Napa River from Trancas Crossing Park or stargazing at their Wantrup Preserve.

Members-only hikes featuring unique experiences and specialized instructors are on the calendar as well this season, with hikes like post-fire botany on Mt. George or wildlife tracking at Dunn-Wildlake Preserve. Becoming a member is easy online at https://www.napalandtrust.org/get-involved/membership/, starting at $35 per year.

Details on the above-mentioned hikes are listed below, while sign-up forms and the full calendar can be found at https://www.napalandtrust.org/hikesactivities/hikes/. Once the boots get dusted off and you’re out there, be sure to tag the Land Trust @napalandtrust on social media and use the hashtag #gohikenapa.

March 10: Wildlake Mushroom Hike

Rating: Hard, 6 miles, 1,000-2,000 feet elevation gain

Have you ever wondered about the fascinating fungi found on the Dunn-Wildlake Preserve? On this outing, learn how to search out and identify the mushrooms found in our area. We will hike on the Hoffnagle Loop and its offshoots in search of the marvelous mushrooms of Wildlake. Pray for rain (in the weeks preceding the hike!). Bring: lunch, water, sun protection, a camera and any mushroom guidebooks you have.

April 27: Post-Fire Botany Hike on Mt. George

  • (members only)

Rating: Hard, 6 miles, 1,000-2,000 feet elevation gain

Hike from the base of Mt. George to the summit while observing spring blooms within areas burned by the 2017 Atlas Fire. Local botanist Jake Ruygt will share knowledge and plant identification as we hike. Bring: close-toed, sturdy hiking shoes; sun protection; plenty of drinking water and snacks; and hiking poles if desired.

April 28: Wildlife Tracking Workshop

  • (members only)

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Rating: Moderate, 2-3 miles, 1,000-2,000 feet elevation gain.

Explore the Dunn-Wildlake Preserve with expert tracker and ecologist Meghan Walla-Murphy. She will demonstrate the foundations and fundamentals of wildlife tracking while tying in concepts related to ecosystem health and reading patterns in the landscape. Kids 10 and older accompanied by an adult are welcome.

June 29: Stargazing at Wantrup

Rating: Easy, less than 1 mile, less than 1,000-foot elevation gain

Calling all astronomers! Bring your love of the night sky for this extraordinary experience from the dark, open expanse above the Wantrup Preserve in Pope Valley, peering into deep space and other night wonders. Telescopes, local astronomers and hot coals provided; you supply your favorite grilling food and enthusiasm for the heavens.

Aug. 4: Up the River with a Paddle

Rating: Easy, 2 miles

Explore the Napa River adjacent to the Trancas Crossing Park from Milliken Creek to beyond the upper reaches of the tidal influence. Be prepared to navigate around submerged rocks and snags and avoid branches over the water as we see just how far we can go. Participants must supply their own canoe or kayak.

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Jorgen Gulliksen works for Land Trust of Napa County.

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