[Contributed by Mike Brindle, Wilderness Road State Park]
ELYDALE – June kicks off an active summer of programs and events at Wilderness Road State Park, with hikes, nature activities and historical interpretation among those being offered. Whether you’re a history buff, love nature, or are simply looking for fun and entertainment, Wilderness Road State Park has something for everyone. The following information represents just the first half of the park’s busy June program schedule.
Life at Martin’s Station – Throughout the month of June, Historic Martin’s Station will bring the 18th century Virginia frontier to life with daily interpretation and demonstrations. Join the men and women of Martin’s Station as they demonstrate blacksmithing, gunsmithing, hide-tanning, 18th century gardening, open hearth cooking and other activities you may have witnessed while traveling the Wilderness Road in 1775. The fort is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Monday.
Friday, June 2: Tales for Tots – Interpretation through stories can be some of the best memories children experience in parks. Listen closely as our ranger leads children on a nature adventure through story. A journey awaits from the first words read through the final chapter. Participants are encouraged stick around after the tales for some fun crafts. The program begins at 10 a.m.; The American Bison – One of this country’s most iconic symbols is the American Bison. But did you know that these magnificent beasts once roamed Powell’s Valley, on the very land Wilderness Road State Park sits on? In this exciting, all new program, guests will learn about the natural characteristics of bison, as well as the important role they played in our nation’s history. Follow our ranger on a short hike to the park’s bison viewing area to meet and observe North America’s largest land mammal. Program begins at 2 p.m.
Saturday, June 3: National Trails Day – In observance of National Trails Day, customize your own hiking stick. We provide the sticks, you provide the creativity. Afterwards, you can try it out on a short ranger-led nature hike. The program runs from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday, June 4: Backyard Birdwatching – Enjoy a ranger-led hike in search of the area’s most recognizable backyard birds. Listen for their calls, note their distinctive color and markings and see if you can guess the bird’s identity. A checklist will be provided so participants can see how many native birds they encounter along the way. The program begins at 2 p.m.
Friday, June 9: Guided Bird Hike – Tag along with our interpreter for a fun and educational walk in search of a variety of birds. Listen to their calls, look for distinctive colors and markings and discover what birds call the park home, and which ones are simply here for a short visit during migration. Use a checklist to mark off the birds you encounter along the way.. Program begins at 10 a.m.; Whose Clues – A grass tunnel. Fragments of nuts. Stripped bark. A worn path through the brush. What do they tell us? Let’s go on an investigative, ranger-led field trip to find the clues left behind in the wild and who left them. The program begins at 2 p.m.
Saturday, June 10: Wildflower Hike with Harold Jerrell – Grab your camera and notepad for this unforgettable stroll through nature with one of the region’s foremost authorities on wildflower photography. Tag along as we explore the park in search of native blooms. Learn how to not only identify native wildflowers, but also take the “perfect shot” of summer’s blossoms. Be prepared to take your wildflower knowledge and photography skills to the next level. The program begins at 10 a.m.; Get Started on Geocaching – Are you interested in geocaching but don’t know how to get started? Or do you just want an adventure in the woods? Well this is the program for you. Enjoy this ranger led activity as we utilize GPS units to find hidden caches throughout the park while learning about our native wildlife. Great fun for families. The fun begins at 2 p.m.
June 10 and 11: Health to the Company – The Practice of Medicine in Colonial Virginia – Men, women and children living on the fringes of Virginia’s frontier faced danger on a daily basis. The risk of being wounded was great and the slightest cut or burn could easily lead to death. The knowledge of medical treatment was invaluable but often scarce. Captain Martin’s company surgeon has arrived at the station to evaluate the men and share his knowledge of health and healing. Program presentations are Saturday at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Sunday, June 11: Incredible Edibles, Foraging for Food – This is an exciting ranger-led hike, in search of edible plants. Throughout time, many of our native plants have been used for eating and medicinal purposes. Discover which plants are surprisingly tasty and nutritious and which ones to avoid. The fun begins at 2 p.m.
Saturday, June 17: Virginia State Parks History and Culture – War and Warriors – War and Warriors: Weapons of the Shawnee Nation – The presence of war was an ever growing factor in the early years of westward migration. Join the men and women at Martin’s Station for a better understanding of the weapons, skills, and techniques used by Native Warriors in their struggle against settlers moving into Kentucky. Listen as historical interpreters explain each weapon, it’s use as well as how it was made. You can see and touch a bit of history as these weapons are put on display. This unique program begins at 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 18: Sunday Cinema: Wings of Life – Grab your popcorn for a big screen presentation of Wings of Life. Enjoy stunning high-definition footage of some of the most important winged creatures on earth: the pollinators. This educational documentary is a wonderful teaching tool to aid young naturalists in learning about bees, bats and bugs. Appropriate for all ages. Run time is 1 hour, fifteen minutes. The fun begins at 2 p.m. in the Visitor Center theatre.
In addition to these programs, the park offers an ADA handicap accessible playground, a nature playscape, picnic shelters, hiking trails and more. The new nature center is open on weekends and includes interactive and educational activities. See and touch the hides and skulls of several of the area’s native wildlife and more. The park’s visitor center houses guest information, a gift shop, frontier museum and a state-of-the-art theatre that showcases the film, Wilderness Road: Spirit of a Nation.
For more information, please contact the park office at 276-445-3065 or visit the park’s official website at www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/wilderness-road.shtml. You can also visit the Friends of Wilderness Road State Park official website: www.friendsofwildernessroad.org or Martin’s Station’s website at www.historicmartinsstation.com.
For more information on all of Virginia’s award-winning state parks call toll-free 1-800-933-PARK (7275) or visit www.virginiastateparks.gov. The award-winning Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.